Newberry approves stormwater assessment study 

Newberry City Hall
Newberry City Hall.
Photo by Suzette Cook

The Newberry City Commission approved a $30,000 study to look into a funding mechanism for a possible stormwater collection adjustment. The city already has an engineering study running to look into the best way to set up a new citywide stormwater collection system, but the second study would help determine how to distribute stormwater assessment costs fairly. 

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe told the commission on Monday that currently, everyone in Newberry splits the cost of stormwater basin upkeep through the general fund. Marlowe also added that the Alachua County ordinance has rigid requirements that put a burden on businesses to use large portions of their land. 

The engineering and funding studies would help determine the best ways to divide up a stormwater system and how much would be paid by whom. Marlowe said the system would mainly benefit downtown businesses, so the majority of the cost would likely be on their shoulders, but he said it would still be a step up from meeting county requirements on their own. 

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“We’re all paying for it right now, and I do appreciate the stormwater, because I drive through Newberry and it’s not flooded,” Marlowe said in the meeting. “But I’m also not a business downtown who is redirecting a lot of stormwater. So I do think that there should be a different price for me being able to drive through town, and for the business who’s redirecting the stormwater and creating the flooding that we have to mitigate.” 

Once the studies come back, the commission will have the choice of proceeding with a city-wide stormwater assessment or leaving the system as it is. The commission will also have discretion to make participation in the stormwater system mandatory. If the system is not mandatory, city manager Mike New said those who opt out would likely pay a lower assessment and provide their own stormwater systems. 

The commission voted 4-1 to proceed with the assessment study, with Commissioner Tim Marden in dissent, saying he could see some benefits but was not convinced enough to add the second study yet. The initial engineering study, already underway and included in the 2024 budget, cost $60,000. 

The commission also approved updated solid waste rates to meet the cost of a new contract with WastePro, approved in November 2023. The new rates’ step increases will begin in March for non-residents, and in October for residents. 

The residential rate will rise from $18/month to $24/month for a twice-weekly pickup, which is still the lowest rate in the area. Rates will increase again to $29/month in April 2025, then to $33/month in October 2025, and to $35/month in April 2026. From there, an increase will be based on the consumer price index (CPI). 

The city will charge a 15% mark-up. Previously, Newberry applied an 18% rate markup to cover city solid waste services and overhead costs, but has reduced the markup to provide rate relief for customers. 

“I mean, trash is expensive,” Commissioner Rick Coleman said in the meeting. 

The resolution passed unanimously. 

During the same meeting, the commission approved a resolution to form a Newberry Historical Association, whose members will be appointed by the mayor, and which will bring the commission suggestions on how to preserve town history. 

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The residents of Newberry should brace themselves for lots of new fees and taxes. All that growth, all those new homes and new stores will require more and more funds to maintain. You’ll also need more deputies, more firefighters, more medics, more teachers and of course the standard of living will decrease. Keep up the growth – and – pay the price.