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Oldham County Schools contests $30K in storm water fees

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By Janell Oliver

Officials from Oldham County Schools are awaiting an attorney general's opinion on the constitutionality of paying storm water management fees from school funds.

If constitutionality is upheld, Oldham County Schools will be ordered to pay in excess of $30,000 in fees for the 2010 fiscal year.

School board attorney Anne Coorssen requested an attorney general's opinion in Novemeber.

Coorssen references ordinances established to create a Storm Water Management District and the structure for calculating service fees.

The charge is based on the amount of impervious surface present on properties which relates to the amount of storm water run-off management by the district.

An assistant attorney general has enlisted legal analysis from county attorney John Carter.

Carter submitted his brief to Judge-Executive David Voegele.

In his cover letter,  Carter writes: "As you will read, it appears that the Oldham County Schools are subject to the ordinance and have to pay the fee."

While the state constitution prohibits assessments on school property to fund public improvements, the state's court of appeals has held that municipal fees reasonably and rationally related to the value of direct services provided to a school are not barred by the constitution.

Carter said because the Oldham County Board of Education is a direct beneficiary of the municipal storm water services in Oldham County, the charges are proper if those charges reasonably and rationally relate to the value of direct services provided.

Carter writes, "...without that system, the school board's system would experience temporary flooding during and following significant rain events. That flooding would degrade the property's usefulness for housing school activities and damage buildings and equipment the the School Board constructs or installs to use in providing education."

A response from Attorney General Jack Conway's office is expected soon.