MOUNT VERNON — There’s a big blank space under “Billing Methodology” on stormwater utility regulations which Mount Vernon has posted online for public comment.
The regulations are the guidelines for how the city’s stormwater utility fee will be charged to residential and commercial property owners in the city. While the regulations have been posted for a public comment period ending May 25, the city has yet to iron out how the fee will be billed and collected.
City Engineer Brian Ball said the blank space was included in the regulations “because there are some things that (will) need to go there.” Among those things are how property owners of multiple parcels will be billed, and how the fees will be divided up for stormwater projects and maintenance, Ball said.
Effective July 1, the utility will charge $4 per month per residential property. Commercial properties will be charged a unit rate per 2,900 square feet of impervious surface area, which includes buildings and parking lots. The first bills will go out in August.
Part of the problem in posting the billing methodology is the fact that the utilities department is still designing the software for billing. The department is currently transferring to new software with CMI Authority, Utilities Superintendent Mathias Orndorf said. It is still being worked out with CMI whether the software can do what the regulations say, Orndorf said.
The software will need to create accounts for city parcels that are not currently receiving a water or sewer bill. This will include parking lots and other paved areas that do not need water/sewer services, but are part of the stormwater utility because they create water runoff.
Meetings and training with CMI are ongoing, and Orndorf said he feels the software will be able to accommodate the stormwater regulations as they stand. Once approved, the regulations can be updated monthly if needed, Ball said.
Under the regulations, the property owner is the entity responsible for paying the utility fee. The owner may work out an agreement with a tenant or other party to pay the utility. However, if the other party fails to pay, the owner will be required to make up the delinquent payments.
The regulations allow for credits on the utility fee ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent for commercial users. If the commercial property meets minimum EPA standards for stormwater retention, they will receive the 20 percent credit, Ball said. Those that go above and beyond EPA minimum standards can apply for additional credits up to 50 percent. Credits will not be available until after June 30, 2021.
Any new development that does not have existing storm sewers will have to have them installed at the developer’s expense. The storm sewers and related infrastructure must conform to the city’s standards and will have to pass city inspection.
Maintenance of private stormwater systems will fall to the property owner, and a maintenance agreement will be drawn up and approved by the city, Ball said. The regulations state that the city will not be responsible for any private systems.
Ball said some of the funds raised by the stormwater utility will go toward annual inspections of private systems.
The utility will start at $4 per month and increase to $6 by 2022. As written into the regulations, the city will analyze the rate every two years beginning with 2022. It will be up to the city council to approve rate increases; according to the regulations, the utility is intended to eventually fully fund the city stormwater program. According to prior discussion on the utility, the funds are to be used solely for repairs, maintenance and new construction of infrastructure directly affecting stormwater control.
The regulations further allow the city to attach delinquent utility payments as a lien against the property. The regulations provide for an appeals process, where the property owner can contest the methodology used to determine the fee assessment. The appeal process includes a $250 application fee.
The regulations can be viewed at the city’s website, mountvernonohio.org under the Stormwater Utility tab at the top of the home page.
The rest of this article is available to our subscribers.
Do your part to support local journalism
Subscribe to our e-edition to read this and many other articles written by your neighbors.