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First, let’s take a look at the Stormwater User Fee and what it is based on: impervious surface…
Impervious Surfaces vs. Pervious Surfaces
The stormwater user fee charge is based on impervious surface because of the direct correlation it has with the amount of stormwater runoff individual properties discharge to the City’s drainage system. The annual stormwater user fee charge will be $10 for owner-occupied single-family residences and other Class III properties. All other properties will be charged an annual fee of $5 per 1,000 square feet of impervious surface, defined as areas that prevent or impede the infiltration of stormwater runoff to the soil. Common impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to: rooftops, buildings or structures, sidewalks, walkways, patio areas, driveways, and parking lots, as illustrated above.
The annual stormwater user fee charge will be $10 per year for owner-occupied single-family residential parcels and other Class III properties. According to the Alabama Department of Revenue, Class III properties include all agricultural, forest, and single-family owner occupied residential property, including owner occupied residential manufactured homes located on land owned by the manufactured home owner, and historic building and sites.
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.
The Reason Behind the Fee
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.