Is the storm water fee system unfair?

25 thoughts on “Is the storm water fee system unfair?”

  1. Who certified the accuracy of all the numbers used for calculations? Is there an independent agency that has sanctioned the methodology used to generate bills?

    1. The methodology is one not used by more than 80% of communities, it is very complex and hard to understand, and like most formulas that are hard to understand, favors the rich and hammers the small homeowner. It definitely is slanted in favor of large commercial users with big parking lots.

    2. I’m curious whether most of these communities are also primarily urban (developed) and do not contain the amount of mitigating natural land we have. I just have a hard time accepting that X square feet of impervious surface in Northampton generates the same volumes of stormwater and has the same effects on flooding as the same (or even less) square feet of impervious surface in a place like Philadelphia, for example.

      Like all the other decisions I’ve witnessed in this city related to money, it’s all about propping up a bloated payroll and passing on the costs to people who are least able to afford it. How much longer can this house of cards remain standing?

    3. Today I got some new information, enough to make me take a second look at the formula and how fair/unfair it is. So bear with me. This really is rocket science.

  2. What you are hearing about the unhappiness us correct Kirby! My house is below grade level of the road I live on. All of the city’s water runs down my driveway out through the back of my property and into a small stream on after crossing the neighbors property. NONE of the water from the roofs of my house or garage nor my driveway encroach onto city property but yet I am paying into this system. I will give you a call about it.

  3. I got the best deal of all – not only do I have my own septic and well and do not rely on the city for anything, in the event of a flood, the dikes will close and my home will be sacrificed. I am now being taxed on a system that I don’t use which could ultimately be my own demise! Thanks NOHO!

  4. As long as it is only “the usual suspects,” to quote a senior city planner, who are the only ones complaining, and as long as the rest of the either apathetic, the easily manipulated phony “liberal” Yes crowd, or the insider Richie Riches continue to protect people like Narkewicz and Spector, then absolutely nothing is going to change.

    I believe there is a political calculus in Northampton to sacrifice the restive middle-class homeowners in the outer neighborhoods. The ranch house dwellers with long driveways that can be mined for money. The “progressive” geniuses in Northampton essentially hatched a version of a poll tax, Margaret Thatcher-style.

    They ignore our concerns because we’re the only ones who challenge them. We hold their feet to the fire. We don’t “fit” the model of the “vibrant, thriving, inclusive” city they want to depict and we don’t go giddy when they self aggrandize.. We get in the way of their grand ambitions for God know’s what. Lenox West, anyone? These people act like they’re princes of some nepotistic monarchy, and not just a pokey place that can’t find the money to match its outsize opinions of itself .

    We’re headed into the great unknown in Northampton, where being a working class homeowner with a modest lifestyle is being threatened like it has never been before by our so-called representatives. We’re witnessing the growing economic inequality crisis in our backyards in stark detail. Everyone should be really frightened, and God help us — because those jokers in City Hall won’t.

    1. To anonymous at 7:55PM, the comment about usual suspects came from a former member of the stormwater task force. Email Kirby.

    2. June 20, 2013 City Council meeting, at 4:20:00 The senior city planner begins a zoning presentation. During this she represents that along with the “usual suspects” (read: Ward 3), dozens of citizens attending previous zoning meetings. This is how dismissive, self-important people talk.

    3. That senior planner is a master of gobbledygook and obfuscation as well. Try following what the heck she’s talking about during her presentations. The documents they create out of that office are impenetrable as well — zoning maps without legends or streets, enormous files that are impossible to download. So I’m not surprised she would use such an insulting term for concerned homeowners just trying to get a handle on what these planners are up to.

  5. apropo of everything that is happening, maybe we need to talk about a slate of candidates for council for the next election. A lone ranger or two gets shot and down isolated very easily.

    1. Good luck finding someone that is willing to stick their neck out. City Hall is a joke – run by an elite group of individuals in this rotten city.

    2. I’d be completely behind backing a slate of candidates. I have hardly any money but I’d dig in my pockets to make a contribution. It’s time for the Murphy’s Spectors, Goggins and their ilk to beat it. And I want to see the other people in the city pay much more attention to the needs of working families. ENOUGH. I’m done getting screwed over by these people.

    3. Good people who actually care have run and have been ripped apart by the “usual suspects”. The personal attacks are not worth it! Trust me!

  6. The stormwater fee wouldn’t be nearly as controversial if homeowners were confident that the game isn’t rigged and that the city and its leaders are making the same sacrifices a very large majority of us have been making in our households and careers in this absolutely dreadful economy. But they haven’t, and that is burning many of us up. When you perceive people making decisions for you as being insulated from the effects they have on you, you have every right to be pissed off.

    There are terrible optics when city workers and officials and their most avid supporters are making handsome salaries and annual raises and not suffering any of the wage freezes, layoffs, and general malaise and insecurity many of us are. How can I expect them to care about forking over an extra $100 a year in fees when they don’t even have to fret at all about whether they will still have a job next month or whether their hours are going to be cut again?

    Honestly, where are the sacrifices this city is making on anything? Not once have I ever heard our always impassive Spock-like mayor or any councilor for that matter put into words and show some empathy through policy decisions the anguish so many of us are going through. There’s a tremendous disconnect between the worry in my household when I watch the council meetings and their matter of factness and light-hearted bonhomie. Do they not get this? Are they really that dumb? Worse — do they really not care as much as they seem not to?

    It’s really quite remarkable how tone deaf they are when it comes to sticking up for middle class values. You know, real people who have been the backbone of this community for generations. Where’s the expression of progressive values they champion so much? In contrast, the sympathies come pouring out only for those on the margins. Do I have to live in a shelter or sleep on a bench before someone in City Hall pays some attention? I’d say, give me some time because I might be in that predicament if you folks keep doing what you’ve been doing.

    All I’m asking for is some leveling of the playing field. I don’t want anything extra. I just think we need more economic fairness in this city. If you raise a fee on me, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that a much wealthier person pays a fee at the same percentage rate I am. So that means it should be proportionately higher in dollar terms. Just doing this would build a little trust and help us from being convinced there’s a shell game being played at City Hall, with us always being the patsy.

  7. Appeal, appeal, appeal. Every single homeowner should! When my bill comes, I aint paying it until after I get an explanation as to how it was calculated, whats the formula used, and why my neighbor with the same size house and bigger paved area is paying LESS than me

    1. I’m planning on doing the same thing. But don’t ignore the economic fairness argument. I want them to explain why someone living in a small ranch house up in the hills has to pay double what a millionaire in a mansion on Elm Street pays. If they want to put a lien on my house, fine. Let them try suing my estate for their blood money.

  8. The CDM report, (800k was the cost of that door stop) recommended a fee. That fee, recommended by a TITAN in the engineering field, had commercial industrial and non profits paying 55% of the total revenue. Many, many towns do it the way that was professionally recommended. The Chamber of Commerce formula, with the City paying a bill (Westfield, Chicopee, Reading do NOT send themselves a storm water bill, btw), has this sector paying 24% of the fee. Oh, and guess who will weasel out the best incentives and credits, raising everyone else’s bill? Feeling duped yet? I don’t mind paying a bill, but WOW did the CoC put on a puppet show.

    1. Ugh, I really didn’t want to read that. The more I learn about this fee, the madder I get. The mayor and council could have pushed back against the Chamber, but they didn’t. Ultimately, the fault for this latest form of thievery lies with them. These are the bozos we put in charge.

      From Adams to Spector,
      Why did we elect ya?

      Try getting that money out of me. Ain’t gonna happen.

  9. Is it legal for a nongovernmental agency to have any influence over an elected governmental agency? I do not belong to the Chamber of Commerce and they are as useful as teats on a bull to me.

    1. Why didn’t the stormwater task force yell about this? Why did they so meekly go along with the fee as it was passed? There’s a lot of blame to go around, and I’m really pissed off with them too. I know a couple of them spoke up about not agreeing with the final recommendations, but they did it in an overly polite, indirect way I’ve become accustomed to in Northampton. Everyone here is so goddamn wormy and wimpy. Speak up! Get angry when you need to!

      I had no idea, based on what objections they leveled, that they essentially caved and let the Chamber write this ordinance for them. Where are the other members of this task force hiding?

      It’s only now, when our bills are about to be sent, that we’re hearing about the outrage that has been perpetrated. I’m aghast at the way things are done in Northampton. We have some nerve bragging about how wonderful everything is in this place. Putin’s Russia could learn a thing or two about criminal backroom dealing and sleaze from us.

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