By Mary Thurwachter

Lantana continues to inch toward instituting a non-property tax assessment to cover stormwater utility costs.

In January, the Town Council adopted a resolution making the county property appraiser and tax collector aware of the plan. And, at its Feb. 26 meeting, it awarded a $121,510 contract to Chen Moore and Associates to develop a stormwater utility fee — an assessment charged to property owners to pay the costs of stormwater programs.

Town Manager Brian Raducci said the idea to have the assessment came up during the town’s visioning session a year ago.

When bids were solicited for the engineering work, only Chen Moore and Associates, a company that specializes in the service, responded. “They do quite a bit of this work in Palm Beach County and Broward, as well,” he said.

“They will be tasked with looking at what costs the town incurs in providing stormwater services and come up with a recommended fee that is necessary so that the town could have a special assessment,” Raducci said.

Brent Whitfield of Chen Moore and Associates of West Palm Beach said his firm would be looking at hundreds of homes to see what the average square footage of pavement per home is and set that as the basis for how the rate will be applied.

Council member Kem Mason asked Whitfield to explain why the assessment is needed now.

“I think everyone has seen we’ve got king tides and we’ve got rainfall patterns that are more extreme than we’ve seen in the past,” Whitfield said.

“You saw what happened in Fort Lauderdale when they had a once-in-a-thousand-year event that shut the airport down. We’re seeing a lot more extreme weather. There is likely going to be more infrastructure needs because of weather patterns and the kind of things we’ve all been seeing with flooding recently.”

Money for this agreement will be provided from American Rescue Plan Act funds or other reserves.

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