Storm water fees questioned

WARREN – Councilman Dan Sferra is looking into how money collected from property owners in their storm water fees have been used in recent years.

Sferra, chairman of the council’s sewers and water pollution control committee, in August sent a letter to Mayor Doug Franklin asking him to appoint three people to serve on the city’s storm water board. Sferra will ask two others to serve on the committee to represent the council.

“We plan to make the appointments during the first week in October,” Sferra, D-at large, said. “We have approached several people about serving on the board.”

The councilman admitted that it was only recently that he realized he was chairman of council’s storm water committee.

“Due to the recent flooding, I believe the board must be assembled as soon as possible,” Sferra noted in the Aug. 19 letter. “I am not aware of the board meeting or even being assembled in several years.”

Sferra is especially interested in how the storm water fees collected as part of water bills are being used to improve the city’s storm water infrastructure.

The original storm water tax was established when Sferra was mayor. City council later established a committee to monitor expenditures of the tax money.

The storm water board is supposed to hold regular meetings at which the director of the city’s water pollution control is to update members about the operation, maintenance and repair of existing storm water systems as well as plans for future expansions. It also review rates on an annual basis.

Sferra also sent an Aug. 19 letter to auditor David Griffing asking for reports outlining all revenues and expenditures from the storm water utility fund and major storm water system capital improvement project fund.

“I would be appreciated if the report would include the specific projects directly relating to storm water improvements or activities with detailed expenditures for the individual projects covering 2011 through 2013,” Sferra wrote.

Griffing said he is in the process of researching the information that Sferra is seeking and will get the information to him as soon as possible

“The administration has been cooperative,” Sferra said. “The mayor has said he will nominate three people to serve.”