Stormwater utilities and fees are not a new concept– many areas across the Country have had utilities and fees since the early 1990s – and, with the increase emphasis of stormwater quality, spear headed by the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, and other mandates, municipalities throughout the Commonwealth need to find alternate sources of revenue to support a local or regional stormwater program.
It’s time to start planning early – 2014 will be here before we know it. Communities, including the City of Roanoke, see the writing on the walls and are starting the dialogue on how to fund stormwater management requirements and mandates to be handed down as part of the new Virginia Stormwater Management Regulations and/or MS4 permits. There are many options on the table – a stormwater utility fee, appropriation of the general funds and potential tax increases, and cooperative regionalization of stormwater management. Regardless of the funding mechanism, one thing is for sure –localities will need to find a way to pay for management, inspection, and development of stormwater facilities to meet more stringent regulations both from state and federal governments.
One option to fund a stormwater program is through ‘user’ fees. Similar to wastewater and water usage fees, stormwater fees are typically based on the physical factors of a property, including the zoning classification, the total area, and amount of green space, buildings, parking, and sidewalks within the total area. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a stormwater utility fee is an acceptable method to generate funding for a local stormwater management program. The development and implementation of the fee structure is subject to Code of Virginia Section 15.2-2114 Regulation of Stormwater, otherwise known as the Stormwater Utility Law, enacted in 2001. Funds generated through a Stormwater Utility are earmarked as special revenue to be used for stormwater purposes and cannot be diverted to the General Fund.
Read more about how the City of Roanoke is planning to address its stormwater management future at Roanoke.com