Charlotte may raise stormwater fee after resident complains

The city of Charlotte may increase its monthly stormwater fees to ensure that an equally sized townhome and single-family home have the same bill.

The proposal comes after a Highland Creek resident pointed out to the city what an advisory committee now says is an “inequity.”

Thomas Lemley is upset that his duplex was billed more than a nearby home with the same amount of impervious surface, such as a swimming pool apron, patio, driveway and house foundation.

“It’s not that much money, but it seems unfair,” said Lemley, a snowbird who is now in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Charlotte property owners pay a monthly stormwater fee that’s part of their water bill.

The city measures the amount of impervious surface on someone’s property.

Single-family homes are placed in one of four tiers.

Someone with less than 2,000 square feet of impervious surface is charged $5.52 a month by the city, in addition to a small county fee. For most people, that works out to about 33 cents for every 100 square feet of impervious surface.

The next tier is for homes with between 2,000 and 3,000 square-feet of impervious surface. They are charged $8.13 a month. That works out to about 33 cents for every 100 square feet of concrete.

For homes with more impervious areas, the monthly bill remains $8.13. But the charge for a number of large homes can drop to 13 cents for every 100 square feet.

Lemley’s duplex is placed in a category that includes commercial property. For most townhomes or duplexes, that works out to 31 cents for every 100 square feet of concrete.

A duplex or a townhome that has 3,000 square feet of impervious surface would pay $9.33 a month. A similar-sized single-family home would pay only $8.13 a month.

After Lemley appealed his bill, the county’s Storm Water Advisory Committee reviewed the rate structure.

The committee said the current fee structure “gives a price cut to detached single-family residential properties.” It added that townhomes, duplexes and commercial properties “subsidize” single-family homes.

“This inequity must be addressed,” wrote Jamey Baysinger, chair of the committee.

Jennifer Smith, the stormwater manager, said staff will present City Council this spring with possible changes in the rate structure.

Council members had considered making all five rates equal five years ago, but rejected it. Some were concerned about approving an increase in fees to residents.