Hillsborough County commissioners table stormwater fee increase

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Hillsborough County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to hold off on deciding whether to approve stormwater assessment fee increases in the upcoming budget.

Commissioners are trying to determine how to fund an overhaul to the stormwater system and alleviate drainage and flooding issues in the county.

County Administrator Mike Merrill came up with a plan to raise stormwater service fees based on the square footage of the house. The homeowner of a small house would be charged about $50, a medium-sized house would be assessed a $92 fee and a large home would come in at approximately $141.

Merrill said this would be the first stormwater service fee hike in 25 years. But homeowners are concerned their current rates could more than double in many cases.

"If we have a choice between paying our taxes or assessments and losing our home, there's something wrong with that picture," said Nancy Keysler. "It is real that there are people out there that are senior citizens who can't work anymore, who have health problems, they can't even pay what they have to pay at this time and then increase it."

"This means I can either choose to pay my taxes and therefore not lose my property or I can eat a little less. Think about that," Doris Cooper told commissioners during the public comment portion of the meeting.

For more than an hour, commissioners listened to a flood of complaints and ultimately decided to hold off on a decision until at least September 5. A final decision will have to be made by October because any fee increase will be included in the upcoming budget.