MONCKS CORNER -- Berkeley County's proposed stormwater fee moved one step away from final approval Monday after a heated exchanged over whether it's really a slush fund for other pet projects.
Council's public works committee endorsed the annual fee on rural residents. It's up for final approval before full council later this month.
The fee would be $36 a year for houses, $18 for mobile homes and apartments, $72 for nonprofits and $108 for businesses and industries. The charge would show up on tax bills mailed out in October to those who live outside towns and cities.
Councilman Dennis Fish questioned whether the county needs that much money for the program, especially since some money has already been set aside in the budget for it.
"I just think we have more than enough money to implement it for this first year," Fish said. "It's a slush fund. I don't think we need it."
The charge drew a heated reaction from Supervisor Dan Davis.
"You cannot take that money and use it for other purposes," Davis said. "Let's don't play politics."
The fees would bring in $1.4 million a year, county officials estimate. The program would sample hundreds of creeks, streams, rivers, lakes and other water bodies around the county and correct any pollution problems to meet federal requirements.
Hanahan and Goose Creek are required to start their own stormwater programs or join the county's. Daniel Island residents pay the city of Charleston's fees. The smaller towns are exempt.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.