The City of Alexandria has drafted a framework for a potential fee to more equitably fund the City’s stormwater management program and Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates. The City is launching a public engagement effort to explain the potential fee and solicit feedback, and City Council, which directed that such a framework be developed, will consider whether to move forward with a new fee in the course of the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process.
As part of the Eco-City Alexandria Clean Waterways initiative, stormwater management helps protect and improve the quality of Alexandria’s waterways and reduce flooding. Costly new and unfunded state and federal mandates require additional efforts to prevent pollution from stormwater runoff. If adopted by City Council, the fee would provide a dedicated funding source for the Stormwater Management Program to meet pollution reduction mandates; operate and maintain storm drain infrastructure; and maintain and enhance Alexandria’s streams, channels and community flood management program.
Since about half of the City’s operating funds come from the real estate tax, the common way to fund new mandates is often to either raise taxes or cut spending in other areas. The City’s analysis shows that while approximately two-thirds of stormwater runoff comes from commercial properties, about two-thirds of the current stormwater management funding from the real estate tax is paid by residential customers. The real estate tax is also based on the market value of a property, without regard to the amount of runoff it produces. Thus, the owner of a small house may pay more real estate tax than the owner of a large parking lot, even though the parking lot may be responsible for far more stormwater flooding or pollution.
The draft framework would create a Stormwater Management Fee, which would be billed based on the amount of impervious surface area on each property. Preliminary staff analysis indicates that the potential fee to cover stormwater management costs could range from $10 to $12 per month for a typical single family detached home and $4 to $5 per month for townhouses. The fee for commercial and nonprofit properties would vary based on impervious surface area.
Rainfall runoff onto nearly every street, driveway, rooftop, and parking lot ends up in a storm drain. When it rains, stormwater flows over these surfaces and mixes with pollutants such as spilled motor oil, pet waste, fertilizers, pesticides, paint, grease, and litter. Since these hard surfaces do not allow rainfall to soak into the ground, they increase the volume of stormwater runoff and contribute to the transport of pollutants and nutrients to waterways and can damage property. This increased volume of polluted stormwater runoff eventually flows to our local streams, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.
The City will brief stakeholder groups, receive comments in September and October, and host a public meeting later this fall. Residents interested in having City staff visit their community, business and non-profit organizations to discuss stormwater management and the draft fee framework should email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting.
Visit www.alexandriava.gov/Stormwater to learn more about the Eco-City Alexandria Clean Waterways initiative, the draft framework for a Stormwater Management Fee, and how residents and businesses can help protect water quality. Visit www.alexandriava.gov/Sewers to learn more about the City’s sanitary and combined sewer system.