Needy senior citizens in Sandy can expect some relief from a recently implemented monthly storm water fee.
Right now, Sandy homeowners pay an average of $3 a month to help pay for a $56 million, 30-year project to develop and fund an improved storm water drainage system.Businesses, churches and schools pay on an "equivalent residential unit" scale. (If a store, say, has property stretching over 30 would-be home lots, the monthly fee would be $90).
On Tuesday, Sandy's City Council unanimously voted to cut the current $3 fee in half for residents over 65 who sign a card saying the fee is a hardship. Needy seniors will now be charged $1.50, beginning with the next billing period.
Senior citizens attending Tuesday's meeting said any fee places a burden on many Sandy residents.
"We have a lot of people here living on fixed incomes," said Orren Atkinson, adding there shouldn't be any sort of storm water fee for struggling senior residents.
Walt Bullard, representing one of Sandy's senior civic centers, added "Even $3 a month for someone living strictly on Social Security can be difficult."
Seniors wanting relief on the storm water fee will have to sign a card at city offices declaring a hardship. The city will not inquire about the applicant's income, said Sandy financial director Art Hunter.
Sandy's monthly storm water fee was prompted by a city-commissioned study that estimated the city would need to spend about $56 million over the next three decades to complete 112 projects. In most cases, the city will be laying underground pipe to divert storm water.
City leaders later decided the monthly storm water fee would be cheaper than a property tax or water rate hike.