PG board wants stormwater fee to be more fair
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Dec 2, 2013, 15:04
PRINCE GEORGE — The Board of Supervisors rejected a proposed stormwater runoff fee last week, saying they want it to be more fair to landowners before they would approve it.
The board unanimously voted to amend a proposed ordinance to implement a stormwater utility fee and re-advertise it as a more equitable payment depending on individual properties rather than a flat fee for all landowners at a board meeting on Nov. 26.
In an effort to create some equity between residential and commercial properties, the new proposal would require that residential properties pay no more than $50 per year, and that commercial properties pay a maximum annual fee of $300, with the option to permanently waive the payments if measures are taken by the property owners to personally reduce storm water runoff. These are not definite numbers, but rather suggestions that can be lowered following another public hearing and discussion by the board.
Originally, the ordinance would have required all parcels, regardless of residential or commercial, to pay an annual fee of $50.
State mandates require all Virginia jurisdictions to maintain their stormwater drainage systems up to a set of standards, however the state does not provide any funding to do this, therefore the purpose of the annual fee is to provide direct funding to help maintain and renovate Prince George County’s stormwater infrastructure.
Julie Walton, the director of community development and code compliance for Prince George, said that the fee revenue would go toward maintaining existing stormwater systems in addition to building new and improved facilities to address runoff reduction.
“It is ... a fee that allows the county to provide services of your choice. We could help pay for the program. ... It can do mitigation work on existing areas that have storm water flooding problems. It can do capital projects to relieve some of the stresses on our existing neighborhoods that have no storm water or very deteriorated storm water infrastructure. It can be a fund to use for those issues as well as enforce the new program,” Walton said.
The Board of Supervisors will have to decide whether to impose a flat fee for both residential and commercial properties, or to base differing fees on the size of a property or to include factors such as a property’s impervious surfaces which increase storm water runoff.
Board member Henry Parker said he would like to see a very simple fee put in place, suggesting a flat $25 annual fee for residential properties and $200 per year for commercial properties.
“I’d like to see nothing at all, but we have to do what we have to do ... [and this] way you don’t discourage anyone from coming here for economic development, and that’s the least penalty that I think we can do [for] our citizens,” Parker said.
Walton said that cutting the residential fee down to $25 would cut the overall revenue earned from the utility fee in half.
The new proposal will go before a public hearing at the second board meeting in January, after which the board members can either lower the advertised fees or make other changes to the ordinance before voting on any implementation.