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Proposed Stormwater Fee Changes

The City of Charlotte and the Town of Pineville approved changes to the minor system component of the stormwater fee and the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners adopted the changes on June 16. The new rates are effective July 1, 2015.        ​

The stormwater fee is made up of three components:  (1) a minor system fee set by each municipality to address drainage improvements and water quality needs of unnamed tributaries, channels, pipes, catch basins and culverts; (2) a major system fee set by the County to address drainage improvements and water quality needs of named creeks and the regulated floodplain; and (3) a billing processing fee.

The revenue generated from the minor system component of the stormwater fee charged within the City and Towns is returned to the City and Towns to fund their minor system storm water management programs. 

Meeting Information

May 11​          Charlotte City Council Meeting - Public Hearing on Stormwater Rates and Stormwater Ordinance
                     Note: Council wrap up for May 11

May 19          Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners
                     Public Hearings – Storm Water Fees - City of Charlotte and Town of Pineville

June 8           Charlotte City Council Meeting, Budget adoption

​ Note: Charlotte City Council approved proposed stormwater fee rates (minor system only). Council will  consider proposed changes to the Stormwater Ordinance at a later date. ​​

City Budget Updates

June 16        ​Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, Adoption of new stormwater rates


Town of Pineville

The Town of Pineville has not proposed altering their minor system component of the stormwater fee since the inception of the Countywide Storm Water Utility in January 1994. The current fee structure is no longer meeting the growing demands of the Town, and the Town's responsibility to address the needs of our minor system. 

For FY16, the Town is considering altering their minor system component of the Storm Water fee to generate approximately $24,000 in additional revenue.  The Town has put off, or been unable to complete, certain storm water projects. The new revenues will assist with completing these projects. This revenue will be used to install new infrastructure (inlets, pipes, etc.) and/or repair aging infrastructure within the Town.  Also, the Town is considering changing the residential rate structure to four rates for four tiers similar to Mecklenburg County's and the Town of Davidson's current residential rate structure to more equitably distribute storm water fees to property owners.

The table below explains the proposed four-rate structure:

​​Town of Pineville – Proposed Rates (M​inor System Only) ​ ​ ​

Median (sq. ft.)FY2015  2 RatesFY2016 4 Rates
Detached Single-Family Residential Impervious Area​ ​ ​ ​

Tier I

< 2,000 sq. ft.

(168 accounts – 15%)



1,640

$1.42

(8.7/100 penny)

$1.41

(8.6/100 penny)

Tier II

2,000 to <3,000 sq. ft.

(680 accounts – 61%)



2,372

$2.12

(8.9/100 penny)

$2.04

(8.6/100 penny)

Tier III

3,000 to <5,000 sq. ft.

(217 accounts – 20%)

 


3,386

$2.12

(6.3/100 penny)

$2.91

(8.6/100 penny)

Tier IV

5,000 sq. ft. & up

(44 accounts – 4%)



6,182

$2.12

(3.4/100 penny)

$5.32

(8.6/100 penny)

All Other Impervious A​rea ​ ​ ​

Per Impervious Acre (43,560 sq. ft. per acre) ​

$35.34

(8.1/100 penny)

$37.46

(8.6/100 penny)

 

City of Charlotte

  • The Storm Water Services program is based on the premise that all rate payers are charged in accordance with their impervious surface and its impact on storm water runoff and water quality.
  • The City currently charges two rates for single-family, detached residential properties.
  • The two-rate structure has not allowed for Storm Water Services to recover costs with managing runoff from residential properties with the largest amounts of impervious surface.
  • Requests for service continue to outpace existing resources. The backlog of work waiting to be done is growing along with wait times for property owners.
    • There are more than 7,000 outstanding requests for service. About 1,000 property owners with high and medium priority requests are waiting 3 to 6 years for service.  The proposed rate adjustment provides funding to increase the number of requests evaluated each year from approximately 230 to 285 (average cost per request is $70,000).
    • There are very limited resources available for the remaining 6,000 low priority requests for service.  The proposed rate adjustment will provide funding to stop qualifying new, low priority requests for service and conduct an evaluation of the existing low priority requests to benchmark costs and provide a more accurate funding projection for future years.
    • An estimated 64 flood control projects to address large-scale neighborhood drainage are waiting for funding (average cost per project is around $8,000,000).  The proposed rate adjustment provides funding to increase the average number of projects started each year from two to three.      
  • Mecklenburg County changed to four rates in FY2010. A change to a four-tier billing structure is recommended in order to apply a more consistent billing rate across all residential properties. 
  • The table below explains the proposed four-rate structure:
    • Two rates are added to the fee structure for detached single-family residential impervious area, with median square footage of impervious surface used as a criterion in setting rates in each tier.
    • All tiers and other impervious areas will use the same per-square-foot criteria.
    • The revision will hold rates the same for about 108,000 (61%) of the total 179,000 residential accounts.
    • Rates will increase for approximately 39% of residential accounts.
    • The rate revision is expected to increase revenue by $7.8 million, and will be effective July 2015.
​​City of Charlotte – Proposed Rates (Minor System ​Only) ​ ​ ​

Median (sq. ft.)FY2015  2 RatesFY2016 4 Rates
Detached Single-Family Residential Impervious ​Area ​ ​ ​

Tier I

< 2,000 sq. ft.

(35,631 accounts – 20.0%)



1,673

$5.52

(33/100 penny)

$5.52

(33/100 penny)

Tier II

2,000 to <3,000 sq. ft.

(72,362 accounts – 40.5%)



2,467

$8.13

(33/100 penny)

$8.13

(33/100 penny)

Tier III

3,000 to <5,000 sq. ft.

(52,335 accounts – 29.3%)



3,648

$8.13

(22/100 penny)

$12.04

(33/100 penny)

Tier IV

5,000 sq. ft. & up

(18,195 accounts – 10.2%)



6,034

$8.13

(13/100 penny)

$19.91

(33/100 penny)

​​All Other Impervious Area​ ​ ​ ​

​Per Impervious Acre (43,560 sq. ft. per acre) ​

$135.56

(31/100 penny)

$143.73

(33/100 penny)

 

Stormwater Ordinance Amendment

  • The City ordinance exempts certain categories of property from paying a stormwater fee.
  • Although state roads have been exempt from paying a fee since the program began, the City's public street rights-of-way were not exempt.
  • Early in the program, the City's general fund paid a contribution to the program in lieu of paying a fee specifically based on City street impervious area.
  • The general fund contribution rose proportionately with the percentage of annual fee increases, but did not rise to reflect increases in impervious area.
  • In FY 2007, City Council capped future contributions from the City's general fund to the stormwater enterprise fund at the FY2006 level (approximately $5.7 million).
  • It is important to note that the City's general fund often invests in stormwater system improvements through neighborhood improvement projects, transportation improvement projects, and transit projects.
  • It is uncommon for large NC cities such as Raleigh, Durham, and Winston Salem to pay a stormwater fee based on impervious surface for public street rights-of-way. The surrounding Mecklenburg towns do not pay such a stormwater fee.
  • This amendment would allow an exemption for public rights-of-way within the City.
  • This will result in the ordinance being consistent with the current practice of how it collects stormwater fees.

Background

  • Under North Carolina law for public enterprises, cities are authorized to set and collect fees to fund storm drainage maintenance and replacement, and to comply with Federal Clean Water Act requirements.
  • The City and Mecklenburg County together established a combined stormwater utility in January 1993 and began assessing fees to most public and private property.
  • The current two-rate structure was established when the utility began and has not been revised.

Amended stormwater ordinance

Sec. 18-39. - Stormwater service charges.

(a) Pursuant to an interlocal agreement entitled "Agreement for Operation of a Single Storm Water System within Mecklenburg County," which became effective January 1, 1994, the city manager shall request the county to set and revise, from time to time, the service rate charge in accordance with the "Storm Water Rate Methodology," dated May 13, 1996, a copy of which is on file in the office of the city clerk, or any subsequent methodology agreed to and adopted by both governing bodies. Upon the expiration or termination of such interlocal agreement, the city council shall establish the service rate charge and base rate charge.

(b) Payment will be applied to a customer's bill in the following order:

(1) Civil penalties assessed pursuant to this chapter;

(2) Delinquent fees for water and/or sewer;

(3) Stormwater; and

(4) Water and/or sewer.

(Code 1985, § 18-4)

Sec. 18-40. - Exemptions and credits applicable to service charges.

(a) Except as provided in this section, no public or private property shall be exempt from stormwater service charges or receive a credit or offset against such service charges. No exemption or reduction in stormwater service charges shall be granted based on the age, tax or economic status, race, or religion of the customer, or other condition unrelated to the cost of providing stormwater services and facilities.

(b) The following exemptions from stormwater service charges shall be allowed:

(1) Undeveloped land.

(2) Public road rights-of-way which have been conveyed to and accepted for maintenance by the city and the state and are available for use in common by the general public for motor vehicle transportation, but this exemption shall not apply to any other uses of developed land for public purposes, such as, but not limited to, public street rights-of-way conveyed to and accepted for maintenance by the city, offices, airports, maintenance yards, water and wastewater treatment plants and water reservoirs, parking lots or garages, parks, recreation facilities, libraries, schools, colleges, universities, social service centers, public housing, hospitals, convalescent centers, and other developed land used for public purposes. This exemption also shall not apply to internal site roadways within such public facilities; to private roads or drives; or to internal roads, drives, and parking areas in privately owned properties.

(3) Railroad tracks, but this exemption shall not apply to railroad stations, maintenance buildings, or other developed land used for railroad purposes.