Rain Tax 3.5

Based on the Lenoir City council meeting Monday, folks in the city need not expect any help from Mayor Tony Aikens when it comes to the proposed rain tax. Aikens is all in and in full support of the new tax.

Several people showed up at the 1:00 meeting to voice opposition to the tax. Some who spoke were local ministers representing their churches explaining what a hardship the new rain tax would be on their churches. Even Lenoir City Director Of Schools, Jenny Barker asked the council not to impose the tax on the school system. Unfortunately, all concerns fell on deaf ears. The council ultimately voted unanimously for the second time to implement the tax. Councilman Eddie Simpson stated that he would be glad to make the motion which was seconded by councilwoman, Jennifer Wampler. The balance of the council then voted yes on the tax.

The most frustrating aspect of this issue is that the mayor and council continue to claim that the rain tax is mandated by some other agency of the state or federal government. This is absolutely false. The only conclusion can be that they either don't know that the tax is not mandated by any other government agencies, which would be disturbing. Or, they know the truth and just refuse to admit it which would be even more disturbing. Either way, the outcome for the residents, property owners, churches, schools and businesses is the same, they're going to get slapped with big fat tax increase. 

It really doesn't matter how many times the mayor, the city manager, the stormwater manager or the council says the rain tax is mandated, that still doesn't make it true. If it's just a matter of needing more money, why not just say that and stop hiding behind the "mandated" story.

Below is the relevant part of state law that ALLOWS cities to pass the rain tax. Note the word AUTHORIZED. Cities are AUTHORIZED, not mandated, not required but AUTHORIZED. That means that they are allowed to pass the tax if they want to but they certainly don't have to. Also note the fees shall be reasonable. That word is totally subjective. What it means is that the cities can charge about what ever they want. It could go up any time.

Tennessee Code Annotated  68-221-1107.  Facilities user's fee.

  (a) All municipalities constructing, operating, or maintaining storm water or flood control facilities are
authorized to establish a graduated storm water user's fee which may be assessed and collected from each user of the storm water facilities provided by the municipality. These fees shall be reasonable in amount and used exclusively by the municipality for purposes set forth in this part. Such a graduated storm water user's fee shall be based on actual or estimated use of the storm water and/or flood control facilities of the municipality, and each user or user class shall only be required to pay its proportionate share of the construction, administration, operation and maintenance including replacement costs of such facilities based on the user's actual or estimated proportionate contribution to the total storm water runoff from all users or user classes. To ensure a proportionate distribution of all costs to each user or user class, the user's contribution shall be based on factors such as the amount of impervious area utilized by the user, the water quality of user's storm water runoff or the volume or rate of storm water runoff. Persons whose storm water runoff is not discharged into or through the storm water or flood control facilities, or both, of the municipality; and owners and/or operators of agricultural land, in the municipality, upon which the owner and/or operator conducts activities that enable the owner and/or operator to satisfy the requirements of a qualified farmer or nurseryman shall be exempted from payment of the graduated storm water user fee authorized by this section. The fee structure shall provide adjustments for users who construct facilities to retain and control the quantity of storm water runoff. Prior to establishing or amending such user's fees, the municipality shall advertise its intent to do so by notice published in a newspaper of general circulation in such municipality at least thirty (30) days in advance of the meeting of the governing body which shall consider such adoption or amendment.

Note the exemption portion of the law. Given that a large portion of the residents who live in the city have no city storm water or flood control facilities, they should be exempt from the rain tax.

Below is a link to the state regulations pertaining to storm water. Feel free to find the part that says the tax is required. It's not there. But this document does list all the requirements the city must comply with under state regulations. You decide if you think these requirements justify the rain tax.


Mayor Aikens and other city officials have stated that the city has been "absorbing" the costs of storm water management for years and they can't afford it anymore without the rain tax. Next week, we'll take a very close look at the city's finances to learn if storm water costs are burdening the city.

Below are links to the proposed Lenoir City Storm Water Utilities Fund (budget), the FAQ for the Lenoir City Storm Water Utility Fee and the Lenoir City Storm Water Utility Ordinance.

Lenoir City Storm Water Utility Ordinance

Lenoir City Storm Water Utilities Fund (budget)

FAQ for the Lenoir City Storm Water Utility Fee

City Hall Web Site For Contact Information