RICHMOND COUNTY, GA (WFXG) - Imagine paying for a service that isn't benefiting you directly. That's what some people living in the rural areas of Richmond County are feeling about the stormwater fee. They took their concerns to the Commission.
"Why should we be paying for something when we don't even have a voice? Nobody's hearing us, nobody's hearing nothing we're saying, everybody is worried about what's happening inside the city," says Woodrow Fryar, who lives off Highway 25.
Fed up of paying a bill for a service that he can't even use, Fryar decided to travel from his home on Highway 25 to voice his concerns to Richmond County Commissioners.
"If you pay for an ambulance and none ever comes to your district, is that fair?" he asks.
People living in rural areas such as Fryar don't get water from the city but still get charged a stormwater fee. For the past two years, residents and businesses have had to pay it and Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle says it's not fair to the customers living in those rural parts.
"I consider it kicking a can down the road. I know that my colleagues want to speak and have more discussions on it. The only thing I fear is that it will fall by the wayside," says Commissioner Guilfoyle.
In 2016, the City says it collected more than $10 million dollars because of the fee, in 2017 more than $13 million. All of which goes towards fixing infrastructure, clearing ditches, drains and much more.
"This program is not to benefit your property, it is to benefit you. It benefits your property in case there's an outage, flood, or anything like that," says Commissioner Sammie Sias.
On Tuesday, the full commission voted not to exempt customers like Fryar from paying the fee but will have a workshop in a couple of weeks to address more concerns. A small win in Commissioner's Guilfoyle's eyes. "I believe that if I can get a reduced rate, that might be the answer. I was trying to go to the exempt especially people living on Highway 1, 56, 88, and 25," he says.
And people like Fryar will make sure to bring all of his concerns to that workshop. "If you're going to be fair, just don't talk fair put your money where your mouth is. Let me see some pipes being ran right there by the county line on 56th, Briar Creek, 25, start bringing some water toward us," he says.
Since adopting the stormwater fee, the city's level of service score rose from a D- to a B+.