State

Yea or nay for Empire storm drains?

People in central Empire should find out today whether they will pay $78 per year for new storm drains and more street sweeping.

Stanislaus County supervisors will host a public hearing this morning, then count ballots from owners of 80 lots indicating whether they support the higher tax. The plan will die if more than half object.

Commercial properties would pay $273 per acre.

The $3 million project, to be under construction by July, would include new streets, curbs and gutters in an area between Highway 132 and Second Street and east of the Santa Fe railroad tracks. The 45-acre area was chosen because it's close to Empire Elementary School, a park and a community swimming pool.

The neighborhood would not suffer from standing rainwater and street sweepers would visit every other week instead of just four times per year, according to a county public works report.

The plan envisions similar improvements in two larger, additional phases with a combined 333 parcels throughout the rest of Empire, requiring two or three years more of construction.

Startup costs for the first phase, to be known as County Service Area 27-Empire, could come to $17,000, including $12,800 in administrative costs.

The $3 million first phase would be covered by a $1.9 million block grant and $1.1 million in county redevelopment money. Higher taxes in the proposed district would pay for $8,500 of annual maintenance, including $5,500 for street sweeping.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at gstapley@modbee.com or 578-2390.

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