Yes. The majority of cities in our region with a population greater than 10,000 residents charge a Stormwater Utility Fee.
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Stormwater (runoff) is rainwater that does not soak into the ground. It flows over roofs, pavement, bare soil and lawns into storm drains. A stormwater system manages the flow of stormwater during storm events to help prevent flooding. Runoff can pick up pollutants, sediment, and debris that are harmful to plants, animals, and humans. These pollutants can affect the river, streams, and waterways of this region.
Like electricity, water and sanitary sewer service, stormwater runoff can be managed as a utility. Customers are charged a fee based on the stormwater runoff impact that their properties generate. Runoff impact is based on the amount of impervious surface on a parcel. The utility is supported by fees that every property owner within the City are billed for and is added to your monthly utility bill.
An impervious surface is a hard surface that does not allow rain to absorb into the ground. Impervious surfaces increase stormwater runoff. Some examples are roofs, sheds, parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks.
Lawns, gardens, flowerbeds, woods, retention basins. Almost every natural area is not considered an impervious surface.
Unless gravel is specifically designed to be pervious, gravel is an impervious surface. Gravel is compacted and acts in that same way as concrete or asphalt.
There are a number of factors that have led the City of Seguin to implement a stormwater utility including regulatory obligations, residential growth (current and anticipated) and growing infrastructure and maintenance needs. The City has identified capital projects and significant maintenance items related to stormwater (drainage) that are not currently funded through the general fund. These capital projects are designed to address existing localized flooding issues, street ponding and provide the capacity necessary for future development and redevelopment. The improvements will also upgrade the City street network.
Also, Federal and State regulations on stormwater management will be required due to the growth in this region and the impending population surge in Seguin. Regulations are becoming more restrictive and the City must comply with those regulations as well. The Stormwater Utility Rate will help meet these challenges. Supported by equitable fees, the Stormwater Utility Rate provides a dedicated funding source to reduce localized flooding, replace and add additional storm sewer pipes, reduce creeks, stream/riverbank erosion, and meet regulatory requirements to reduce stormwater pollution.
No, the Stormwater Utility Rate is a utility like your electric/gas, water/sewer utility. Stormwater Utility Rates are for services provided and are common in cities throughout Texas. They are used to fund all or part of public programs such as water, sewer and stormwater. Utility fees are based on the amount used. Taxes, generally speaking, do not have a direct relationship between the source of revenue and the purpose to which it is applied.
The Stormwater Utility Rate is based on an Equivalent Residential Unit. The City made this determination by taking a sampling of residential properties, the impervious area on each one measured and a typical impervious area calculated was 2,500 square feet.
Residential customers will pay a fee of $3 per month x 12 months = $36 per year.
Non-residential includes multi-family properties, offices, institutions, manufacturing/industrial facilities and churches. Hard surface area will be divided by the standard Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) of 2,500 square feet to determine the number of billing units on the property. The number of billing units then will be multiplied by the standard ERU rate of $3.
For example, the fee for a commercial property with a total hard surface area of 30,000 square feet will be $57.50 monthly, calculated as follows:
30,000 square feet ÷ 2,500 square feet/ERU = 12 billing units
12 billing units x $3 per month/ERU = $36 per month x 12 months = $432 per year.
The Stormwater Utility Rate is applicable to developed properties within the Seguin city limits and included on the monthly water, sewer, and trash/recycling bill. If the owner of a property normally pays for utility services on a property, the stormwater rate is sent to the owner for payment. If an occupant or tenant of the property is responsible for payment of utilities, the City considers the occupant or tenant to be responsible for payment of the stormwater rate. However, the owner of non-residential properties will be expected to pay the stormwater rate if the property has been vacated by a tenant.
Seguin’s utility billing system currently bills all utility service fees to customers of the City including water, sewer, and trash/recycling collection services. The stormwater rate is added to the utility bill as a separate, monthly charge. The funds collected from the fee will be accounted for in a Stormwater Utility Fund that is separate from other City revenues.
There are many items in the City’s drainage system other than storm drains such as roadside ditches, waterways, and curbs & gutters on the street. If you live within the City of Seguin, you would be required to pay the Stormwater Utility Rate to support the entire stormwater drainage system.
Most home gardens that collect stormwater runoff do so by capturing runoff from the roof of a structure (building, garage, etc.) However, runoff is still issued from the property via paved areas where the rainfall is not captured. Residents who collect stormwater for gardening would still be required to pay a Stormwater Utility Rate. However, the City may consider a fee reduction for property owners or occupants who operate and maintain a Best Management Practice (BMP) or Low Impact Development (LID) feature that reduces pollution, helps control stormwater runoff or both. The BMP/LID structure would be required to comply with the San Antonio River Basin LID Technical Design Guidance Manual (2019).
Multi-tenant residential properties are billed the same as the single family residential fee if the apartment unit is individually metered. If the apartment complex is master metered, then the customer of record for the master meter would be billed a Stormwater Utility Rate for the entire property. Individuals or businesses that rent a property will receive billing for the Stormwater Utility Rate if the water and/or sewer meter is in the renter’s name. Property owners are obligated to pay Stormwater Utility Rates It will be up to the individual property owner and the renter to decide how to handle the assessed fee.
Yes, stormwater utility bills will be sent to the owner of each apartment complex, townhouse and duplex. A single bill could be established for an apartment complex if the homeowner’s association requests (in writing) for a single bill. In this case, the fee and bill would be based upon the total impervious area for the entire complex (all dwelling units, private streets, common areas). Generally, an association then distributes this cost to property owners in the development.
Funds generated through the Stormwater Utility Rate go towards stormwater project management, drainage studies (including and not limited to) floodplain analysis, watershed analysis, capital project planning/development and drainage project implementation. The funds also go to maintenance operations which may include the purchase of equipment for maintenance, repair, construction of channels, inlets, pipe systems, regulatory compliance and more. The fee also helps compensate City Staff who would handle database management, bill inquiries and disputes.
Although the City has done a good job providing stormwater services on a very limited budget, the backlog of stormwater projects has grown and additional maintenance activities are required. Local, state, and federal laws also require that municipalities address the environmental impacts of stormwater pollution but do not provide the funds to do it. Stormwater runoff and ponding is the number one reason for the deterioration of roads and the creation of potholes. The City is investing a lot of money for the rehabilitation of roads but without improvements to the drainage system, the quality of roads will suffer.
The City will assess the areas experiencing problems, determine what solutions are best for the areas and then a benefit analysis will be conducted to determine priority. The areas with the most residents who will benefit from the project will be moved up to the top of the priority list.
Property and/or business owners are being charged a utility fee for the cost of discharging stormwater into the public stormwater system which the City is obligated under law to maintain. With a stormwater rate, users are charged a fee for runoff discharged from their property to the City’s stormwater management system, not by the amount of rain falling onto your property. Property owners control the level of development on their properties, which directly impacts the run-off characteristics of the parcel of land.
The City of Seguin will have an appeals process for any property owner who feels that the impervious surface calculation the City has captured for their property is not accurate. More information on the appeals process will be available as the Stormwater Utility Rate development process continues.