Berkeley County taxpayers could see a new line item on their tax bills as the county moves forward with a new utility needed for environmental protection.

During Monday's regular meeting of Berkeley County Council, members gave second reading to an ordinance that would create a stormwater utility.

Since implementing the federally mandated stormwater program, Berkeley County has absorbed the hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs per year used toward education, investigations and more, according to Engineering Director Frank Carson. In 2012, the county spent $240,000. The next year, the county spent $380,000. But now the costs are expected to nearly quadruple as the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water Act mandates a program expansions.

With an estimated $1.4 million in increased costs, the county has moved forward with forming a utility to charge taxpayers, according to Carson. Carson said it likely would be a $48 fee added to homeowners' tax bills next year. Apartment owners and mobile home owners would pay $24.

"We don't have to have a utility, but we have to have a program . but a utility is a means of funding the program," Carson said. "The costs are going to increase pretty dramatically."

The last time a utility was proposed for the program was 2011. At the time, the annual fee was proposed at $36 but later lowered to $12. Following a vote to defeat the measure, council decided to continue to pay for stormwater fees from the general fund.