City clarifies proposed stormwater fee increase

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Earlier this month, the Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed on first reading the City’s proposed fiscal year 2022 budget.
Included in the budget is a proposed increase in the average residential stormwater fee from $3.25 per month to $9 per month.
On average, each Germantown residential property owner would pay about $69 more each year based on the proposed increase.
Stormwater user fees are included on Germantown utility bills. This would be the first increase in the fee since it was established 11 years ago.
“Drainage and the management of stormwater runoff is not something that most people think about on a regular basis,” said City Administrator Patrick Lawton. “In terms of the expenses related to home maintenance, it’s a lot like having to buy a new hot water heater. It’s not something you see often and it’s not something that you would want to show off to your friends, but when you need it, you expect it to work.”
The increased user fee was recommended during special Financial Advisory Commission subcommittee meetings. The rate was then reviewed and approved by the full Commission.
Germantown maintains more than 241 miles of drainage infrastructure throughout the city.
These pipes and ditches help keep rain water from building up, which can lead to erosion and property damage.
Most of Germantown’s stormwater assets were built in the 1960s and, after more than 50 years, have reached the end of their useful life.
With the increased frequency of rapid heavy rains in the Mid-South, maintenance and improvements to the city’s drainage system are more important than ever.
It is important to remember that this user fee increase will provide dedicated funds for repairing and maintaining the city’s critical drainage assets.
As with any fee increase, it is normal for residents to question where their money is going. On average each month, residential property owners will pay $5.75 more in stormwater user fees. In total, the $9 monthly fee breaks down as follows:
n $2.96 in dedicated personnel costs – This includes salaries, benefits and training for approximately 10 positions and will provide enhanced maintenance and management of additional stormwater maintenance contracts being added with the increased level of service.
The average annual investment per property for personnel costs is $35.52.
• $2.41 for supplies and materials – Expenses include tree removal, fencing replacement and repair, drainage sensors and on-call engineering services. Tree removal is critical to the health of the stormwater system as root systems cause deterioration in concrete structures which allows water to seep underneath and cause failures.
Chain link fencing lines most concrete stormwater ditches in Germantown, preventing debris from entering the channel and providing a safety net by keeping people and pets out.
Sensors, placed strategically along the City’s concrete drainage ditches will provide data that can be used to prioritize capital projects. In addition, the sensors will provide alerts to stormwater and public safety personnel should flooding become a possibility.
On-call engineering services provide consultation for emergency stormwater design and construction inspection from a licensed professional structural engineer to ensure the most efficient and effective repairs are made. The average annual cost per property for these services is $28.92.
• $0.63 for cured-in-place piping – Cured-in-place pipe rehabilitation is used to effectively restore pipe integrity, improve sewer and stormwater flows and seal out ground water infiltration with minimum disruption of work sites and little to no interruption of services to customers.
The primary focus for pipe lining each year is the older infrastructure within the City system or traditional repetitive problem areas where excavation would be cost prohibitive. The average annual cost per property for this work is $7.56.
• $3 for capital improvements – Currently, drainage projects compete for funding with all other capital needs, including schools and public safety. Funds from the stormwater fee will be directly allocated to improvements related to stormwater infrastructure.
In fiscal year 2022, these funds are expected to go toward improving drainage along Redbud Trail Drive. Additional stormwater projects would continue to be funded outside of the stormwater fund. In fact, the fiscal year 2022 budget already includes $1.6 million for repairs to the Duntreath drainage lateral. The average annual cost per property for this work is $36.
The proposed fee increase is part of the fiscal year 2022 budget which is still under consideration by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The second reading and public hearing is scheduled for June 14.
Third and final reading takes place on June 28. Meetings begin at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 1930 S. Germantown Road.