ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Adams County residents took their complaints about a new water fee to the county commissioners on Monday.
The neighbors in unincorporated Adams County are organized and their entire argument is outlined on a website.
More than 200 people showed up to the county commissioners meeting. It was standing room only and the crowd even over flowed into the hallway.
The homeowners are upset that the county passed a new storm water utility fee that adds hundreds of dollars to their property tax. The residents on Monday presented the petition they’re continuing to work on. It calls for the repeal of the fee.
“As of last night we have 20,615 signatures, and I probably got another 400 this morning,” Adams County resident Mike Gilmore said.
“We’re ensuring safe drinking water for our community,” said Todd Leopold, Deputy County Administrator.
Storm water utility fees are not that uncommon. There are 33 jurisdictions in the Denver metro area that charge a storm water utility fee, but most of those residents have curbs, gutters and storm water drains. In unincorporated Adams County residents have ditches and culverts that they maintain themselves, so they wanted to know why they got charged.
“We’re just flabbergasted. We have no infrastructure whatsoever compared to a municipality,” resident Steve Cheresnick said.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that the Adams County wants to charge us for water that is absorbed on our own property,” resident Dean Rumfola said.
Leopold says the county commissioners passed the storm water utility fee last September to pay for a backlog of maintenance issues. He says the fee went into effect in January to handle the needs of the growing community.
“The money is going to primarily be used for both monitoring regulatory aspects of our storm water system, in addition to major capital infrastructure projects,” Leopold said.
The county calls it a fee, but residents say it amounts to a tax, and they say it’s illegal under the TABOR amendment. The feel they should be able to put the issue up for a vote.
Late Monday the county commission proposed a new citizen group that brings residents into the process.
Residents are threatening a lawsuit if the county commission doesn’t repeal the storm water utility fee.