South Charlotte

Storm water fee could be going up

If you live in Matthews, your storm water fee could be going up – just how much depends on the amount of impervious area (hard surface) you have on your property.

Impervious surfaces do not absorb rainfall and the more impervious service your property contains, the greater the amount of storm water that flows from your property into culverts and streams putting a greater demand the drainage system.

Storm water fees are used to maintain the drainage system currently in place and to resolve drainage problems that may occur.

The fees are collected by the county and a portion is passed along to the various municipalities. In most municipalities the fee appears on your monthly water bill. In Davidson, and in areas of the county that aren’t served by public water and sewer, residents are billed every six months.

Matthews commissioners recently passed a four-tiered fee system that will go into effect July 1, pending comments from a public hearing scheduled for May 23 and approval by Mecklenburg County Commission.

Until now, Matthews has relied on a two-tiered fee structure. If your property contained less than 2,000 square feet of impervious surface, you were charged $1.42 a month for the town portion of the storm water fee. Properties with impervious surface of 2,000 or more square feet were charged a $2.12 town fee. (The remainder of the storm water fee paid each month goes to the county and includes an 85 cents billing processing fee with the rest going to county storm water projects.)

The two-tiered system is still in effect for Mint Hill, Cornelius and Huntersville although Huntersville commissioners are considering migrating to a four -tiered system as well. Other municipalities in the county are already using a four-tiered plan to assess fees.

Matthews public works director C.J. O’Neill says the town’s storm water fee and fee structure have remained the same since 1992 when the fee was first instituted. He says the increase is necessary so the town can keep pace with its storm water responsibilities.

“Our infrastructure is aging which is leading to more repairs needed for our system. With the Post Construction Control Ordinance, we are required to take over maintenance of residential storm water quality facilities. The maintenance of these facilities will be one of the largest sources of recurring cost to the program. Altogether, we are estimating the Storm water budget to be about $800k this year, which is about $200k more than the funds that the program is receiving through storm water fees,” said O’Neill.

He estimates the new rate structure should bring about $200,000 into the town, enough to cover needs for the foreseeable future. He says it will also mean that those properties that cause more storm water run off will shoulder a greater share of the fees.

“A four-tiered structure might be considered fairer than our current structure. The impact that a property has on our storm system is directly proportional to its amount of impervious surface. In our old structure, a residential property with 6,000 SF of impervious surface is billed the same amount as one with 2,000 square feet. Under the four-tier structure, the property with the larger area would pay approximately twice what the property with the much lower amount of impervious area does,” said O’Neill.

Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: m.johnston@carolina.rr.com.

Learn more

Visit www.charmeck.org and choose “Departments” then “Storm water services”

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