Stormwater Utility Fee

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The City of Hendersonville is responsible for the water quality of natural streams within its jurisdiction mandated by the State and EPA.  All storm drains, ditches, pipes, and conveyances carry stormwater to our streams and lake.  This system is referred to as the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4).  On February 13, 2018, the Hendersonville Board of Mayor and Alderman voted unanimously to approve Ordinance 2017-42, implementing a Stormwater Management Program in the City of Hendersonville. By establishing a dedicated funding source through stormwater fees, the City can ensure that the revenue required to manage and maintain this important system is available. A stormwater utility program will enable the City to take a more proactive approach to stormwater management. The City will be able to provide an increased level of system maintenance and repair that is necessary to support the aging infrastructure in Hendersonville.  In addition, the utility fees will enable the City to construct necessary capital improvement projects to reduce the risk to public health and safety from flooding.  Finally, the fees will support the development of a comprehensive stormwater management and water quality improvement plan, as mandated by Federal and State governments.

To review the state law authorizing stormwater utility fees please read Tennessee Code Annotated Title 68- Health, Safety, and Evironmental Protection, Chapter 221- Water and Sewerage, Part 11-Stormwater Management (TCA 68-221-1101).

You can find the Stormwater Utility Ordinance here.

 Q. What is stormwater runoff?

A. Stormwater runoff is the water that flows off roofs, driveways, parking lots, streets and other hard surfaces during rain storms.  Stormwater runoff is also the rain that flows off grass surfaces and wooded areas that is not absorbed into the soil.  The runoff that is not absorbed into the ground pours into ditches, culverts, catch basins and storm sewers.  It does not receive any treatment before entering the streams and lakes. 

Q. What is stormwater pollution?

A. Water from rain or melting snow either seeps into the ground or “runs off” to lower areas, making its way into streams, lakes, and other water bodies.  On its way, runoff water can pick up and carry many substances that pollute water.  Examples of common pollutants include fertilizers, pesticides, pet wastes, sediments, oils, salts, trace metals, grass clippings, leaves and litter.  Stormwater polluted runoff can be generated anywhere people use or alter the land, such as farms, yards, roofs, driveways, construction sites, and roadways.

Q. Why is stormwater runoff a problem?

A. As precipitation falls on undeveloped areas, it is primarily absorbed into the ground or slowly runs off into streams, rivers or other water bodies.  However, development resulting in rooftops and paved areas prevent water from being absorbed and create a faster rate of runoff.  This development often causes localized flooding or water quality issues.

Q. Why do we need to manage our stormwater runoff?

A. Stormwater runoff needs to be managed just as any other natural resource.  First, it is needed to minimize damages that may occur when stormwater runoff exceeds the capacity of the pipes and open channels used to carry stormwater to our rivers and streams.  Second, it is also needed to maintain the quality of our natural watercourses as drinking water supplies and for recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, water skiing, etc.

Q. What Is the City currently doing about these problems?

A. Historically, the City has performed maintenance of the stormwater collection system, which includes cleaning, repair and replacement of the City’s stormwater infrastructure. When funding has been available in the past, the City has implemented a small number of flooding and drainage improvement projects.  Also, the Federal Government has mandated that all cities the size of Hendersonville implement a series of programs and services to improve water quality.  These mandates include programs to regulate development, inform/educate the public, and the identification of potential pollution sources throughout the City.

Q. Who owns the stormwater system?

A. Currently, in most cases, the owner of record is the responsible party to accept, to maintain, to add and to discharge stormwater flows.  These systems routinely cross City maintained property that is generally located within public street rights-of-way.

 Q. What is the City’s responsibility for stormwater?

A. The City operates and maintains drainage facilities that are located within the public right-of-way or public easements.  The City is also responsible for the water quality of natural streams within its jurisdiction as designated by both the State and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The City does not maintain facilities that are located on private property or that fall under the jurisdiction of other local governments.

Q. How does the City currently pay for its stormwater services?

A. Stormwater services are primarily funded from revenue derived from property taxes collected by the City, which are held in the City’s General Fund.  As such, stormwater must compete for these funds with other City services such as parks, roads, fire, police, etc.  Most stormwater related work is performed by the Public Works Department.

Although the city has done a good job managing the existing program on a limited budget, the backlog of stormwater projects to address significant flooding issues in the City has grown and the new, federally mandated water quality programs that must be implemented have strained existing resources.  Due to the high demand on the General Fund over the past several years, the City is not currently able to set aside enough funds to adequately address all the City’s stormwater needs.

Q. Why has City of Hendersonville chosen to implement a separate fee for stormwater management?

A. By establishing a dedicated funding source through stormwater fees, the City can ensure that the revenue required to manage and maintain this important system is available. A stormwater utility program will enable the City to take a more proactive approach to stormwater management. The City will be able to provide an increased level of system maintenance and repair that is necessary to support the aging infrastructure in Hendersonville.  In addition, the utility fees will enable the City to construct necessary capital improvement projects to reduce the risk to public health and safety from flooding.  Finally, the fees will support the development of a comprehensive stormwater management and water quality improvement plan, as mandated by Federal and State governments.

Q. How did the City of Hendersonville develop its stormwater utility program?

A. In January of 2017, the City hired an independent consulting firm to perform a review of the City’s current stormwater management program and to identify long-term funding needs to address city-wide flooding concerns and regulatory requirements.  A rate model was developed to evaluate potential rate structures and levels to fund the City’s program.  On February 13, 2018, the Hendersonville Board of Mayor and Alderman (BOMA) held a final vote to implement the stormwater management program.

Q.  What is the basis for the fee that is charged?

A. The stormwater utility fee is based on the square footage of impervious surface area on your lot.  The vast majority of utilities across the country have found this to be the most equitable way to charge and collect revenues for this program.  A stormwater utility fee is similar to a water or sewer fee.  In essence, customers pay a fee related to the amount of runoff generated from their site, which is directly related to the amount of impervious surface on the site.

Q.  What is impervious surface area?

A. Impervious surface area means a surface which is compacted or covered with material that is resistant to infiltration by water.  In terms of the ordinance, it means the number of square feet of horizontal surface covered by buildings, and other impervious surfaces.  Common examples include roofs, driveways, parking areas, sidewalks, patios, decks, tennis courts, concrete or asphalt streets, crushed stone, compacted gravel surfaces, or any other surface which impedes the natural infiltration of surface water.

Q. Why do I have to pay a stormwater fee?

A. The City is responsible for providing and maintaining infrastructure for drainage and flood control as well as compliance with new Federal and State regulations on water quality.  This includes installation and maintenance of storm drains, inlets, and ditches as well as ensuring State programs such as erosion and sediment control are provided on construction sites.  These services are done to protect personal and public property as well as provide for a healthy environment.  Funding is not provided by Federal or State government for these services.

Q. When will the stormwater fee take effect?

A. The stormwater charge will appear on the Hendersonville Property Tax bill starting in October 2018, as per the ordinance passed by BOMA in February 2018.

Q. Why is there a stormwater fee instead of a tax?

A. A property's value does not affect runoff, so property taxes are not the most equitable way to pay for stormwater services.  For example, a high-rise building and a shopping mall may have similar value and pay similar property taxes.  However, the shopping mall produces more runoff because of the amount of parking and rooftops.  The fee system ensures the shopping center pays a higher stormwater fee than the high rise.

Q. Are tax-exempt properties also exempt from the stormwater fee?

A. No, because it is a fee – not a tax.  Taxes are based on the value of the property. The stormwater fee is assessed based on the amount of impervious surface on the property (i.e. hard surfaces such as roofs, driveways and parking lots), which is directly related to the amount of runoff the property produces.  The runoff generated by these impervious surfaces contributes to pollution and flooding problems and, therefore, all property owners should pay their share of the costs.

Q. What is an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU)?

A. An ERU is the average square footage of the impervious surface area (measured in square feet) for a single family residential property determined pursuant to the City’s proposed ordinance.  That amount is 3,930 square feet. The ERU was determined by averaging the square footage of a detached single family residential properties in the municipality. 

Q. How will single-family residential properties be billed?

A. All single-family homes will be charged a rate of $6.00 each month, are classified as one ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit= 3,930 square feet).  The municipality’s governing body found that the intensity of development of most parcels of real property in the municipality classified as single family residential or similar and that it would be excessively and unnecessarily expensive to determine precisely the square footage of the improvements on each such parcel.  Therefore, all single family residential properties in the city shall be charged a flat stormwater management fee, equal the base rate, regardless of the size of the parcel or the improvements. 

Q. How are Other Developed Property fees determined and billed?

A. All non-residential properties will be billed at a rate based on their measured impervious area.  To determine the monthly fee, divide the total impervious area of your property by 3,930 square feet (or one Equivalent Residential Unit) to obtain the number of ERUs and multiply by the base single family residential rate of $6.00 per month per ERU.  Impervious areas were determined by analyzing aerial photographs to identify the amount of impervious surface on each property.  For the majority of properties, the City’s fee will be billed on the Hendersonville Property Tax bill.  However, in some circumstances, alternative billing methods may be used.

 

Description

User Fee

Single Family Residential

$6.00/month

Other Developed Property

(Total Impervious Area in square feet/3,930 square feet) x $6.00= Monthly Other Developed Property Fee. Multiply monthly fee by 12 = Annual Other Developed Property User Fee

Q. What will the money collected by the Stormwater Utility be used to pay for?

A. The revenues generated by this fee will be used to fund all stormwater-related services, which include enforcement of the City’s stormwater ordinances, planning for future impacts, stormwater infrastructure maintenance and repairs, construction of necessary capital improvement projects and associated property acquisitions.  The fee will also pay for annual compliance requirements of the City’s NPDES MS4 permit, which is a program mandated by the State and Federal government for all communities similar in size to Hendersonville.

Q. Do other cities have a stormwater fee?

A. At least 25 cities/counties in Tennessee (and over 2,000 nationwide) currently have a stormwater fee.  Many local governments in Middle Tennessee, including Gallatin, Goodlettsville, White House, Portland, Lebanon, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Springfield, Spring Hill, Nashville, LaVergne and Franklin, have already implemented similar fee programs.

Q. What are the goals of the City of Hendersonville’s stormwater program?

A. The stormwater program focuses on reducing the potential for the loss of life or property due to flooding and improving and protecting the quality of our lakes, rivers and streams.

Q. What are some examples of drainage problems?

A. Drainage problems may include roadway or structural flooding, clogged or failing underground pipes and culverts, stream bank erosion and stormwater pollution affecting a stream.

Q. Why do I have to pay when I do not have any drainage problems?

A. Everyone in the City benefits from the Stormwater Management Program.  When stormwater runs off your property, the City must have a program and funding to manage the increase in runoff and pollutants.  Direct benefits may include providing safe passage on roadways during storms, protecting your property from upstream runoff, protecting property downstream from your runoff, complying with Federal and State mandates, educating our children about pollution, and improving water quality.

Q. I have a drainage problem in my yard. Who do I call to get help with this problem?

A. You can call the City of Hendersonville Public Works at (615) 822-1016.  We will investigate your concern and advise you of what action can be taken.

Q. Where can I get more information regarding the stormwater utility fee?

A. Any questions regarding the Hendersonville Stormwater Utility should be directed to the City’s Stormwater Management Program at (615) 822-1016.