Floyd County farmers push back on stormwater fees

FLOYD COUNTY, Ind. — Floyd County farmers are fighting back against stormwater assessments. Some are calling the way the county handles the fees unfair and discriminatory to farmers.

“We feel it’s been unfair to agriculture,” said Dennis Konkle, a farmer within county lines who is leading the charge for change. 

The current way stormwater fees are assessed has been in place for years. County commissioners say an advisory committee spent a year deciding on the current process, but farmers say it’s penalizing them. 

“It needs corrected,” said Konkle. “It’s gone on too long. All agriculture wants to do is to be treated equally.”

The way fees are decided now comes down to the type of land. If it’s considered residential then a $39 fee is charged. If the land is considered agricultural, then it depends on how many square feet of impervious surfaces are on the property. Owners are charged $39 dollars for every 3,700 square feet of the surface. That includes things like blacktop driveways or roofs. 

“If this farming operation were sitting in a subdivision, I would pay $39, said Konkle, “but because I’m out here on a farm and have multiple buildings, I am measured. So my stormwater fees here are $157.”

That’s money that he feels is unfair to charge of the ones whose job it is to care for the land. 

“We as farmers are Floyd Counties greatest conservationists,” said Konkle.

County commissioner John Schellenberger doesn’t disagree.

“I am pro-farmer. I was born and raised on a farm,” he said. 

His home is currently considered agricultural even though he says he’s not an active farmer. That’s where his concern stems, from the large properties that are considered agriculture but aren’t farms. 

“For someone who owns 10 or 15 acres, and they’re not an active farmer, and they’ve got a lot of impervious surface, and they’re only paying $39 dollars that’s where I have to go the other way on it,” he said. 

County commissioners will tackle the issue in their meeting Tuesday night.

Schellenberger says he just wants to be fair and would like to find a compromise. 

Meanwhile, every decision by commissioners is impacting farmers like Konkle directly. Konkle says stormwater fees are a factor when deciding what type of structure to build for storing equipment or crops.

He says he’ll attend every meeting until he feels the issue has been resolved. 

“I’m not gonna quit. I’m persistent,” he said. “It’s time to act. Lets act. Let’s get something done. Let’s get something to help the farmers in Floyd County.”

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