Erie City Council met on Thursday night to hear more on Mayor Joe Schember’s ideas for reforming the city’s storm water system.

We attended their study session where council members were given the details from an outside specialist as to how the city should proceed with repairs.

None of this is set in stone yet, but the goal of the meeting on Thursday night was to find a fair approach to restoring our storm water systems.

Mayor Schember said that now is the time to address the issue with a proposed storm water fee.

The mayor said that incidents like last summer’s sinkhole near 5th and Wayne Avenue that cost the city one and a half million dollars to fix, is a prime example of why a storm water fee is needed and how action now could save the city in the long haul.

“Our underground sewer system is out of sight, out of mind. Nobody thinks about it, but a lot of it is 100-years-old or older, and it’s in very bad shape. We’ll have enough money so that we can look at things and make sure they’re okay before they collapse which will be a lot less expensive and cost citizens a lot less,” said Joe Schember, (D), Mayor of Erie.

The City of Erie manages over 500 miles of pipe which if placed end to end would reach from here to Knoxville, Tennessee.

The way the city would fund this is by requesting a fee from Erie property owners that is derived into three categories for residential buildings.

Non-residential buildings follow a different scale and are required to pay more per year than residential locations.

However, if property owners take steps on their own to assist drainage on their own property, they’re eligible for credit.

One of the individuals responsible for creating the policy shared with us what it takes for property owners to get credit.

“It is a way to recognize if somebody is actively managing storm water on their property in a way that benefits the public system. So it’s a way to reduce your fee in exchange for going above and beyond and actually doing something to treat that water, even from a volume standpoint or water quality stand point,” said David Bulova, Senior Planner for Wood Environmental.

This is not something new as many cities and areas around the state and around the country have implemented similar systems.

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If the policy is adopted, the City of Erie will have applications available for those who qualify for credit.