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Stormwater User Fee FAQs

What is Stormwater Runoff?
Stormwater runoff is rainfall that drains off rooftops, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, roads, compacted soil, gravel, and other surfaces that prohibit the infiltration of rainfall into the ground.  The stormwater runoff then flows into the City drainage system and into our local streams/creeks.  All developed properties in the City contribute stormwater runoff to the drainage system and, in some cases, to recurring drainage problems.  In addition to flooding problems, stormwater runoff washes chemicals, debris, trash and other pollutants into the drainage system and our local surface waters.

What is the City of Anniston’s responsibility for managing the impacts of stormwater runoff?
The City of Anniston is responsible for the management and regulation of stormwater runoff and drainage issues within the City and must comply with a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

In order to be compliant with this permit, the City must undertake various activities including, but not limited to: the cleaning of ditches and pipe systems; replacement of aging culverts and drainage structures, inspections, water quality screening of outfalls, and regulation of new development.  The regulatory requirements of this permit have driven the City’s need to develop and implement a more comprehensive stormwater management program (SWMP).

Although the State and Federal government have imposed these environmental regulations on the City, there has not been any corresponding funding from these agencies to assist the City with meeting its requirements.  As such, these regulations are essentially an unfunded regulatory mandate that the City must address.

How is the City of Anniston proposing to fund expanding SWMP needs?
The City of Anniston has adopted a stormwater user fee that will be dedicated solely to addressing stormwater management and drainage issues. The stormwater user fee will provide the resources necessary for the City to deliver stormwater services to residents, businesses, institutional and government facilities.

What is a Stormwater User Fee? 
A stormwater user fee is a charge for stormwater management services provided by the City to all developed residential and non-residential properties in the City that are not otherwise exempted by State Law.  Under the plan proposed, the stormwater user fee revenue collected can only be utilized for the provision of stormwater management services to customers.

What is the City of Anniston’s authorization to charge Stormwater User Fees to property owners?
The Legislature of Alabama approved Act 2014-439 in April 2014, which specifically allows for the use of stormwater user fees to fund NPDES Phase II MS4 Permit related stormwater activities.

How do you calculate a Stormwater User Fee charge?
The stormwater user fee charge is based on the amount of impervious surfaces on a parcel and its land use.  Impervious surface means those areas which prevent or impede the natural infiltration of rainfall and stormwater runoff.  Common impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to: rooftops, buildings or structures, sidewalks, walkways, patio areas, driveways, parking lots, storage areas, and other surfaces such as compacted gravel.

The square footage of impervious surface on a property has a direct correlation to the amount of stormwater runoff discharged from that property.  Developed parcels with larger amounts of impervious surface will contribute more runoff that will eventually be discharged into the City drainage system.  As such, parcels with more impervious surface impose a greater demand and service delivery burden on the City’s drainage system and SWMP, and will therefore be charged a higher user fee.

How is my Stormwater User Fee calculated?
The annual stormwater user fee charge will be $10 per year for owner-occupied single-family residential parcels and other Class III properties. All other properties will be charged an annual fee of $0.005 (½ cent) per square foot of impervious surface, unless otherwise exempted from the user fee by State Law.

The stormwater user fee charge will appear as a separate line item on the City of Anniston Property Tax bills. Property owners in Anniston should expect to see this annual user fee charge on their October 2014 property tax bill.

Why did the City decide to implement a Stormwater User Fee charge? 
The City has evaluated its stormwater program service delivery needs and concluded that additional resources are needed. The City has also evaluated the feasibility of charging a stormwater user fee in comparison to increasing the property tax millage rate.  It is important to note that the user fee is not based on the assessed “value” of a property, like ad-valorem taxes, rather it is based on each customer’s demand that they impose on the drainage system and the corresponding stormwater services provided by the City.

In this manner, the stormwater user fee approach is very similar to water, sewer, gas and sanitation.  As such, the City has concluded that the user fee approach is more fair and equitable way to allocate stormwater program costs to parcels as opposed to increasing ad-valorem taxes to fund stormwater program services.  An additional benefit of a stormwater user fee is that all stormwater user fee revenues must be spent on stormwater management and drainage related issues whereas ad-valorem tax revenues are typically not subject to such restrictions. Although the user fee is a new charge to property owners for stormwater services, these costs have always existed and were previously funded through General Fund allocations; albeit at an insufficient funding level.

What will be the billing frequency and the billing mechanism? 
The stormwater user fee charge will be charged annually as a separate line item on the City of Anniston Property Tax bills. Residents and business owners in Anniston should expect to see this annual fee on their October 2014 property tax bill.

Who do I call if I have additional questions? 
Contact the City’s Finance Department at (256) 231-7718.