The Charlotte City Council is considering a 4% hike to local Storm Water rates in 2018, along with substantial cuts in fee credits provided to commercial property owners, to address a growing backlog of projects on pubic and private land.
City staff told Council members they have a current backlog of more than 1,500 storm water projects, with a wait time of 6 – 8 years. If no changes are made to the fee schedule, staff estimates their backlog will more than double, with customers waiting as long as 18 years for the City to complete their request. To address this, staff is asking Council to approve annual storm water fee hikes over the next decade. Even under that scenario, the project backlog in 10 years will remain right about where it is today.
Councilman Ed Driggs summarized the thoughts of many on Council when he said the City was “on a collision course with a big problem here.”
In the Council workshop discussion, Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield asked staff how the City could hold developers more accountable for their impact on downstream flooding. But the City’s Post-Construction Stormwater Ordinance (PCCO) already requires significant onsite storm water investments by all new development, to prevent any net flood impact on downstream properties. Developers also have the option of paying a PCCO Mitigation Fee, which is used by the City to construct public storm water improvements and infrastructure.
Charlotte is one of the few cities its size that spends public funds to make stormwater repairs on private property. These improvements range from creek restoration to acquiring property in flood zones. Funds are provided through a monthly fee assessed on the water bill for each property owner, but commercial properties that constructed required on-site storm water ponds have received credits as high as 100% to offset those fees. The staff proposal would reduce the maximum credit available to 72%, resulting in potential fee increases for dozens of large commercial and industrial properties.
City Council will continue to evaluate the storm water fee proposal over the next few weeks, before voting on a budget later this Spring. REBIC will monitor the discussion and continue to advocate for the preservation of the 100% Storm Water Fee Credit.