Charleston will put another $2.4 million toward drainage solutions next year.
City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to add the extra revenue to the stormwater fund, which is a separate pot of money for drainage-related expenses, bringing next year's spending capacity to $11.3 million.
The drainage budget has increased by about the same amount for the past two years.
It'll be paid for with a stormwater fee increase, which is collected on water and sewer bills. The monthly fee, currently $8, will rise to $10.
As a part of the spending plan, the city is creating its first Stormwater Department, which will take over all the drainage and flood-related functions currently handled in the Public Service Department.
The director, whose salary is budgeted for $125,000, will be hired early next year, according to Mayor John Tecklenburg.
The stormwater budget also includes funding for nine other positions, including project managers, inspectors, an administrative assistant, technicians, and construction workers.
The city will also hire an outside engineering firm for $500,000 to lead large projects that the city doesn't have the staff to dedicate to.
"We’re building our ability to tackle what we view as our number one priority," Tecklenburg said. "We’re going to have new leadership there and have more boots on the ground."
Money will also be spent on studies to help the city strategically address drainage issues and plan large-scale projects.
For instance, the city expects to spend about $100,000 to bring the Dutch Dialogues to town. The formal planning session with a team of resilience experts from The Netherlands has conducted the program in other coastal cities such as New Orleans and Norfolk, Va. to help them prepare for rising seas, heavier rains and more powerful hurricanes.
A delegation from Charleston including Tecklenburg visited the Netherlands earlier this year to see first-hand how the small European country has essentially outsmarted its centuries-long flooding problems.
The Medical University of South Carolina, the Charleston Water System and the Historic Charleston Foundation have pledged their support to help fund the Dialogues program, Tecklenburg said.
In another effort, the city will commission a vulnerability study to help set the priorities for large drainage projects.
While City Council recently learned that the next phase of the Spring-Fishburne Drainage Project will cost $31 million more than expected, Tecklenburg said that will not affect the city's plans for drainage fund next year.