By Mary Spicer
All property owners in the City of Meadville whose holdings include more than 200 square feet of impervious surface will soon be receiving a bill for an annual fee designed to defray the costs of the city’s Stormwater Management Program. The minimum fee of $90 — $7.50 per month — will be paid by all owners of single-family detached residential units, regardless of their size or footprint. Owners of all other developed property including businesses, churches, apartment buildings, government buildings, factories, parks and other open spaces with hard surfaces will be billed a multiple of that amount based on each property’s actual square footage of impervious surface as identified by aerial photography.
The first wave of bills for the city’s new “Stormwater Management User Fee” left Meadville City Hall on Tuesday. A second wave is scheduled to go out today. When the third and final mailing, which is expected to leave Friday, makes it to the post office, more than 4,000 envelopes will have been dispatched, filled with bills for more than 4,600 parcels of land. Each envelope also includes a two-page summary of frequently asked questions about the program.
With the enactment of a new ordinance in fall 2012 establishing the stormwater management program and user fee, Meadville City Council established a dedicated funding source for maintenance and improvements to the city’s aging stormwater infrastructure.
The ordinance specified that the fee should be collected for every developed parcel of land in the city, regardless of its taxable status. At the time, council members agreed that the cost of maintaining and upgrading the system that conveys countless gallons of stormwater runoff safely through the city should be shared by everyone who benefits from the flood control protection the system provides, including owners of the tax-exempt properties that account for approximately 40 percent of the city’s developed properties.
Impervious surface, defined on the city’s website as a surface that prevents the infiltration of water into the ground, includes “roofs, additional outdoor living spaces, patios, garages, storage sheds and similar structures, parking or driveway areas, and any private streets and sidewalks.” Any travel surface covered with gravel or crushed stone is included under the definition of “impervious.”
Although council included a .5-mill property tax reduction in its 2013 budget, a property would have to have an assessed value exceeding $180,000 in order to realize a property-tax savings equaling more than the $90 minimum stormwater management fee.
Property owners have an option of paying the full amount due by March 29 — those paying in full by March 15 receive a 2 percent discount — or making their payments in quarterly installments. If each quarterly installment is made on or before its due date, there is no additional charge. For example, someone paying the basic $90 fee will owe four installments of $22.50 to be paid no later than March 29, June 28, Sept. 30 and Dec. 31.
n Additional information: Visit cityofmeadville.org/stormwater.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.