As part of their monthly utility bills, residents and businesses in The Colony pay a Stormwater Utility Fee, which in turn pays for maintenance projects and improvements to the city’s vitally important stormwater drainage system.
For example, many residents may be familiar with the repairs currently underway to the stream bank along Taylor Street behind the Aquatic Park.
In recent years, development in the city has increased rapidly, adding a significant amount of new buildings and impervious surfaces that have subsequently increased flows to existing stormwater infrastructure. This also includes water that flows through from other communities. More flow means more wear and tear on the drainage system and more erosion along streams that funnel stormwater runoff into the lake.
The city’s current Stormwater Utility Fee Ordinance was established in 2004 and sets a monthly fee of $2.50 for single-family customers (which is among the lowest rates in the region) and $2.50 per equivalent residential unit (ERU) for multifamily/non-residential customers. However, in the 14 years since, not only has development increased but the costs of construction have increased significantly as well, in addition to normal inflation.
In order to ensure the city can maintain and improve the stormwater system as needed, The Colony City Council approved an ordinance amendment in August that will raise the Stormwater Utility Fee. Understanding the impact this can have on a home or business budget, the rate increase is being phased-in. For single-family customers, the monthly rate will go up by 50-cents each year for the next three years starting Oct. 1, 2018. Multifamily/non-residential customers will experience a monthly increase of $1/ERU the first year then $0.75/ERU the following two years.
To put it in perspective, the previous fee schedule would generate a little under $600,000 in funding for stormwater projects in FY 2018-19. Estimated costs for projects in the same year, however, is $2 million. The Engineering Department, which oversees the stormwater drainage system, has identified 25 potential maintenance projects totaling an estimated $9.3 million over the next five years. Simply put, without the rate increase, many much-needed repairs and improvements would not be undertaken.
As with any rate increase, the City Council and city staff will continue monitoring rates and revenues going forward in the hopes an opportunity arises to lower the rates back down.