2018-2019 Stormwater Utility Fee Review

Overview


Athens-Clarke County Stormwater is currently working with Stantec Consulting to conduct a comprehensive review of the Stormwater Utility Fee. This review consists of two phases. The first phase, which wrapped up in December 2018, looked at the existing level and extent of stormwater services, as well as a funding strategy for fixing failing stormwater pipes. Over the past two years, the Stormwater Utility Fee has been used to for emergency stormwater pipe repairs. Annual fee revenue is insufficient to continue to address failing pipes, and therefore, a fee increase is being considered.

The second phase, which will take place from January to March 2019, will examine the current rate structure and credit system. Credits allow stormwater customers to reduce their fees through practices that reduce stormwater runoff and/or reduce the cost burden to ACC for implementation of the Stormwater Management Program. This improves the fairness of our fee system.

Keep an eye out for an informational letter about the Stormwater Management Program and the current Fee review in your January water bill.

Public Input


ACC Stormwater is hosting regional open house meetings to provide information about the Stormwater Utility Fee, the current review, and to gather feedback from customers about the fee structure and credits. All open house meetings will start at 6:30 p.m. and end at 8:00 p.m. We hope to meet you at one of the following locations:

  • ACC Library - Thursday, January 24
  • J. J. Harris Elementary School - Tuesday, January 29
  • Barnett Shoals Elementary School - Wednesday, February 6
  • Timothy Road Elementary School - Monday, February 11
  • Winterville Depot - Thursday, February 21
We will also be hosting an online comment form for out-of-state customers or those who cannot make it to in-person meetings. A link to the form will be posted here soon.

If you would like a member of the Stormwater Team to come speak with your neighborhood, business, or civic group about stormwater issues or the Utility Fee, please email stormwater@accgov.com. 

Resources


History


1. On February 4, 2003, Mayor and Commission (M&C) approved the ACCGOV Stormwater Management Program (SMP) for compliance with the NPDES Phase II Stormwater Permit. The SMP specified the level and scope of service and identified tasks that ACCGOV would undertake over a five‐year period to comply with regulations identified in the Phase II Permit.

2. On April 1, 2003, M&C authorized the Manager’s Office to create a citizen/staff Stormwater  Advisory Committee (SAC) to assist with the implementation of the SMP. The SAC’s charge  was to review the current funding structure for the SMP and to make recommendations as to  how the SMP would be funded in the future.

3. Between June and August 2003, the SAC worked with staff to review the types of activities the  SMP would include, the level of resources necessary to conduct these activities, and the  funding options available to the community to fund these activities.

4. On November 4, 2003, M&C designated the following sources as the primary methods of funding for the SMP: a. Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax  b. Additional Development Fees, and  Page 2 c. Stormwater Enterprise Fund (Stormwater Utility).

5. On January 6, 2004, M&C awarded a contract to Earth Tech, Inc. to assist staff and the SAC  with developing recommendations for a rate structure for a stormwater utility.

6. On December 7, 2004, M&C adopted the stormwater utility ordinance (Chapter 5‐5) describing  proposed rate structure, fees, service areas, and credit policies.

7. On July 1, 2005, the Stormwater Utility Fee was implemented. M&C reduced the millage rate  by 0.6 mills (from 13.40 to 12.80) to reflect the shift of $1.7 million from the General Fund to  the new Stormwater Enterprise Fund via the newly imposed fee.

8. On March 4, 2013, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld ACCGOV’s Stormwater Utility Fee against a challenge by a ratepayer. The Georgia Supreme Court reaffirmed that the utility fee is not a tax and upheld ACCGOV’s ability to use a lawsuit filed in a local court to collect  unpaid fees.

9. On March 14, 2017, Transportation and Public Works (T&PW) staff presented an overview  of the SMP at a scheduled M&C work session. T&PW staff recommended proceeding with a  consultant to assess the stormwater utility’s equity and effectiveness to make recommendations on adjustments to the rate and credit structure.

10. On December 5, 2017, M&C awarded the contract for a stormwater funding review to Stantec Consulting Services and Ecological Planning Group.

11. In August and September 2018, T&PW advertised an online survey to gather public input on  the scope of services provided by the SMP. The survey had 351 responses, as summarized in  Attachment #2.

12. On August 16, 2018, Stantec and T&PW hosted two public meetings to discuss Phase I of  the Stormwater Funding Review: Stormwater Costs and Funding Strategy. Approximately 20  ratepayers showed up. Generally, input was with regards to particular stormwater drainage  concerns. All completed surveys were added to the summary, as shown in Attachment #2.

13. On September 11, 2018, T&PW staff presented at a scheduled M&C work session the preliminary findings for Phase I of the Stormwater Funding Review: Stormwater Costs and  Funding Strategy. M&C requested a second work session to provide additional opportunity  to consider alternatives.

14. On November 13, 2018, T&PW staff presented at a scheduled M&C work session additional  information for Phase I of the Stormwater Funding Review: Stormwater Costs and Funding  Strategy. 

15. On December 4, 2018, M&C voted to accept the funding strategy recommendations as listed in Facts & Issues #9 and #10 in the corresponding agenda item.

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