Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
CHINA GROVE ó Town officials have taken the first step toward an eventual “tax on rain.”
After months of work, the town has received its stormwater permit from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Water Quality. The permit allows the town to discharge storm water. It became effective June 1 and expires May 31, 2012.
The town will now set out to implement a stormwater protection plan that will eventually mean a new monthly charge for residents.
Town Manager Eric Davis stressed that the plan is mandated by the state and in effect makes stormwater another utility for the town to handle.
The statewide intent of the program is to lessen debris and illicit discharges into the state’s waterways.
Stormwater now becomes the third utility under the supervision of Utilities Director Kent Mishak.
Discussion of the stormwater program came about three hours before a storm sped across town and dumped thousands of gallons of rain, filling streets and drains.
Davis said the program’s first two years will be primarily an education effort, with the town enlisting residents to help keep drains clean.
The town will mail out notices and use other methods to get out the word to residents.
Likely projects will include adopt-a-stream programs aimed at getting litter out of the streams.
Davis said most municipalities are adding a fee by the third year. He noted that it has been frequently described as a tax on rain.
“That’s kind of what it is,” he said.
Full implementation will require street and drain cleaning.
In other matters, the board heard information or acted as follows:
– Unanimously approved a resolution in support of the Clean Water Act of 2007, which calls for a statewide bond vote to make $1 billion available across the state.
Davis noted that many of the sewer and water projects carried out in China Grove were made possible with a 1998 bond issue that made millions of dollars available for low-interest loans.
– Delayed action on a recommendation to spend $15,000 on new playground equipment.
Initially, the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission had planned to use much of the money for a small skateboard park. Problems arose finding a suitable place and the commission opted instead to use the money to add equipment at various town parks.
Bringle asked that the list of equipment, totaling almost $14,000, be reviewed by the commission.
He also pointed out that the town can save $300 apiece on picnic tables by getting them from the N.C. Department of Correction.
– Agreed to cancel the July 3 meeting due to the July Fourth holiday.
The board has two additional meetings set this month: a budget session next Tuesday at 6 p.m. and a second public hearing and adoption of the 2007-2008 budget on June 19, also at 6 p.m.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or