MONCKS CORNER -- Berkeley County Council killed a proposed stormwater fee Monday night, even after Supervisor Dan Davis suggested cutting it by two-thirds.
"At the next meeting of council, I hope you have a resolution for DHEC," Davis said after the 6-2 vote. "Now we will probably face an enforcement action."
Davis had argued that the county needed to collect fees to comply with stricter federal clean-water regulations or face a fine from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Critics had argued that the county could meet federal regulations without charging residents any more money.
They also argued that it wasn't fair to pay for the program with fees that applied only to residents who live outside towns and cities.
The original ordinance called for a $36 fee for homeowners, $12 for mobile homes and apartments, $72 for nonprofits and $108 for businesses and industries. They would have seen the new charge on tax bills next month.
Linda Riney of Cross argued that the county could meet federal requirements without any new fees.
"Why do you need to take more money?" she said during the time for public com- ments. "You deal in millions of dollars. ... We deal in light bills."
Davis got council to amend the ordinance to cut the fees by two-thirds, which would have meant $12 for homeowners.
He said the county could get by on less money for the first year, then find a better way to pay for the program next year.
"Obviously it is a controversial issue," he said. "The program is basically inequitable, the way it is funded."
When it came time for the vote, only Jack Schurlknight and Bob Call supported it.
"What really burns me is the federal government sends down these unfunded mandates," Councilman Caldwell Pinckney said before voting against the ordinance.
Charleston and Dorchester counties have been charging stormwater fees for years. Charleston County charges homeowners $36 a year.
Dorchester County charges $31.97 for a 2,000-square-foot home on a half-acre lot.
Many of the bigger local cities and towns have their own stormwater fees.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.