A fix for the stormwater fee?

The 2010 rate for the city's stormwater run-off fee for non-residential property that the City Council adopted on first reading Tuesday -- $6.15 per basis unit -- would probably meet the anecdotal definition of a fair compromise: neither side is happy.

It's too low to meet city hall's list of projected needs to revamp and significantly improve the city's stormwater run-off program and earn compliance with Clean Water Act standards. And it's more than 20 percent above the $5 maximum that City Council's blue ribbon study committee recommended last month as a solution to controversy over the fee.

Still, the reduced rate, if adopted on a final reading, would amount to significant relief from the current base rate of $9.60, which resulted in new stormwater run-off bills that reach into the tens of thousands of dollars for a number of area businesses and non-profit institutions.