Citrus County taxpayers will soon receive greetings in the mail from county officials, though the news may not be welcoming.
The county plans to initiate a stormwater fee on homes and businesses to pay for projects to prevent untreated runoff from flowing directly into rivers, lakes, canals and groundwater.
County commissioners on Tuesday approved sending out the notices, which will have the specific proposed fee for each property. The fee is based on the square footage of buildings and non-impervious surfaces, such as concrete driveways or parking lots.
The average rate for a single-family home is $58.84 a year. The incorporated areas of Crystal River and Inverness are not included in the program.
Though it’s called a fee, two residents who spoke during the meeting said it should be referred to by another term.
“This is a tax on everybody in Citrus County except Inverness and Crystal River,” said Janet Barek, president of the Citrus Springs Civic Association.
Citrus Springs resident Edwin Roberts added: “A few pennies add up to people. This kind of stuff has to stop.”
Board members voted down a proposal by Commissioner Ruthie Schlabach to remove all exemptions except for government property. Under her plan, churches, private schools and nonprofits would pay the stormwater fee.
Commissioners were reluctant to do that based on the fact that exemptions for nonprofits and churches exist for the $54-a-year fire rescue fee that property owners pay. Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. suggested the board pass the fee with the exemptions, then consider lifting exemptions for both fire and stormwater fees next year.
The stormwater municipal services benefit unit (MSBU) public hearing is at 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, at the county courthouse.