Stormwater runoff is water that drains off houses, rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, roads and other surfaces that do not allow rainfall to soak into the ground when it rains. This stormwater runoff then flows into the City drainage system and, eventually, into our streams and creeks including the Flint River.
How is stormwater runoff a problem?
All developed properties in a community that have manmade surfaces and structures contribute stormwater runoff to the City drainage system and, in some cases, to flooding problems. In addition to potential flooding problems, the stormwater runoff washes chemicals, trash and other pollution into the drainage system and our local creeks. Old and damaged pipe systems have created a need for the City to develop and implement a more comprehensive stormwater management program to address drainage system maintenance issues as well as other high priority projects.
How does the City intend to deal with these problems?
The City stormwater management program will undertake various activities including the cleaning of ditches; replacement of aging pipes and structures; and the construction of new pipe systems to improve flow.
How does the City plan to address its multiple drainage needs and priorities?
The Mayor and City Council considered the implementation of a Stormwater Utility and stormwater user fee charge to address the City’s drainage needs discussed above. All the user fee revenues will be dedicated solely to funding stormwater management and drainage system activities. The Stormwater Utility would service all residences, businesses, institutions and government facilities because all developed properties generate stormwater runoff.
What is Stormwater Utility?
A Stormwater Utility is an entity whose purpose is to provide services related to stormwater management. Each user (customer) is charged a fee for the service provided.
What is a Stormwater User Fee?
A Stormwater User Fee is a charge for stormwater management services provided by the City to all residential and non-residential properties in the City. The user fee revenue collected can only be utilized for the provision of stormwater management services.
How do you set a user fee charge for an individual property?
The user fee charge is based on the amount of impervious surfaces on a parcel. Impervious surface means those areas which prevent the natural absorption of rainfall and stormwater runoff. Common impervious surfaces include rooftops, buildings or structures, sidewalks, walkways, patio areas, roads and streets, driveways, parking lots, storage areas and other surfaces such as compacted soil and gravel. The square footage of impervious surface on a property has a direct correlation to the amount of stormwater runoff that flows off that property
How would my user fee bill be calculated?
The user fee is based on a billing unit or Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) that is based on impervious surface. One billing unit (or ERU) will be equal to $4.00 per month. A stormwater user fee billing unit (or 1 ERU) is the average amount of impervious area on a typical single family property in Americus. Under the current proposal all single family residential properties will be charged a flat rate of $4.00 per month (or $48 per year) for stormwater services. All non-residential properties would be charged a custom amount that is based on the total square footage area of impervious surface on their property. For example, if a shopping center had roughly 20 times the amount of impervious surface as a typical residential property then the shopping center would be charged a monthly stormwater user fee charge that is 20 times larger than the residential charge.
What if my property has a detention pond?
Customers and properties that operate and maintain a stormwater detention pond might be eligible for a credit (or reduction) against the monthly stormwater user fee charge. Customers should contact the City at (229) 924-7111 regarding the available credit application procedures. Stormwater Utility Credit Manual
How does this user fee amount compare to other Georgia communities?
The typical user fee rate per ERU for the existing utilities in Georgia is approximately $3.75 per month.
Why did the City considering a stormwater user fee charge to fund stormwater management services?
Based on a detailed assessment of the City’s current Public Works operation, the City Council has concluded that additional resources are needed to address various drainage system and stormwater management needs in the City. The City Council believes that institution of a stormwater user fee charge, as opposed to a property tax increase, is the most fair, equitable and stable way to fund the future stormwater program. The user fee would not be based on the assessed “value” of a property like a tax; rather it is based on the amount of stormwater runoff that the property generates from its impervious surface. Each customer’s stormwater runoff amount results in the City having to provide an adequate drainage system to deal with the water. In general, stormwater services will be provided to customers by the City -- similar to water, sewer, and sanitation services. An additional benefit of a Stormwater Utility is that all stormwater user fee revenues must be spent on stormwater and drainage related issues whereas tax revenues are not subject to such restrictions. In contrast, property tax revenues can be spent on any City budget item.
In the past, how have stormwater services been funded?
In the past, drainage system operation and repair activities have been funded by the annual City budget which is made up of various tax revenue sources. This process has proved to be inadequate and unstable from year to year due to the nature of competing priorities within the City’s annual budgeting process and reduced sales tax revenues. The Stormwater Utility was established to fund a more comprehensive stormwater program without drawing additional funding away from other City priorities such as Public Safety.
Isn't this just another tax?
A stormwater user fee charge is not a tax. Although the stormwater user fee is an additional cost to customers, it is not a tax because it bears little or no relation to the taxable value of a property. If a property is developed and generates stormwater runoff, the customer will be charged a stormwater user fee charge based on the amount of runoff discharged from the property and the stormwater services provided by the City to handle that runoff amount through the City drainage system.
Would churches and other tax-exempt properties be required to pay the stormwater user fee?
Yes, all developed properties within the City limits that have impervious areas will be charged a stormwater user fee regardless of ownership or property tax status. All impervious surfaces (e.g. parking lots and rooftops) contribute stormwater runoff, and therefore, all customers would share the implementation cost of the City’s stormwater management program.
Is there any way to reduce the Stormwater Fee that is being charged?
Both residential and non-residential customers may be able to apply for credits to reduce their stormwater user fee charge by following the procedures that are outlined in the Stormwater Utility Credit Manual. The credits will be based on those methods used to directly reduce the impact of stormwater runoff on the City’s drainage system.
What will be the frequency of billing and the billing mechanism?
The stormwater user fee charge will be billed on your existing City of Americus monthly public utility bill. If you do not receive a monthly utility bill from the City, a new account will be set up for you and a stormwater services bill will be delivered to you.
Who do I call if I have additional questions?
Contact the City of Americus Public Works Department with any questions at (229) 924-7111.
How do I learn more about Americus's stormwater utility?
Please visit the City of Americus Stormwater Unitility Management website.