Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?

Posted June 2, 2010 

By Rick Giardina, CPA, WEF Utility Management Committee, Vice President, Red Oak Consulting, a division of Malcolm Pirnie

WeatherThumb.jpgAt the WEF-sponsored seminar titled: Weathering the Storm, Is this the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?, it was clear that regulatory drivers such as MS4 permit requirements, CSOs and Consent Decrees, as well as storm events, can provide the impetus for creating a stormwater utility and/or a formal funding source.

This seminar brought professionals together to discuss the “state of the industry,” current challenges, and lessons learned from an EPA-regulatory perspective and a mix of new and established stormwater organizations, including
one created to address deficiencies exposed by a 100-year storm event.

There were a number of consistent messages about the need for stormwater utilities, related steps for development, and potential utility benefits.

  • When considering formation of a utility or implementation of a fee, know the legal landscape. Is there enabling legislation granting local authority to charge a fee for service?
  • Regulatory requirements drive capital and operational initiatives. These initiatives translate into formal programs reflecting level of service considerations and resulting financial needs. Without exception, the economic implications – tax or rate increases – are paramount and in the end, community values and political realities determine the acceptable level of service and acceptable taxation levels or user fees.
  • In many communities, stormwater needs compete for funding right alongside other government activities such as police and fire and in this competition, stormwater often comes up short. Shifting from taxes to a dedicated user fee produces a reliable revenue stream and “frees up” general government revenues for other purposes.
  • Examples of both successful (meaning 2-way, early and often dialogue) and failed public input efforts (the “rain tax” phenomenon) provided evidence of the importance of engaging your public.

Are you considering forming a stormwater utility or have you had challenges along the way? Know your legal authority, know your public and let them get to know you. Be prepared to address the affordability argument and political realities that the technically “right” level of service may not be the acceptable one. And if you have comments or questions, please post them here.

 

Related Resources:

See WEF's Stormwater & Wet Weather Knowledge Center for more information.

 

 06/02/2010Permanent link

Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?  ()
 

Posted June 2, 2010

At the WEF-sponsored seminar titled: Weathering the Storm, Is this the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?, it was clear that regulatory drivers such as MS4 permit requirements, CSOs and Consent Decrees, as well as storm events, can provide the impetus for creating a stormwater utility and/or a formal funding source.

Comments (0)


Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?

 Permanent link

Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?

Posted June 2, 2010 

By Rick Giardina, CPA, WEF Utility Management Committee, Vice President, Red Oak Consulting, a division of Malcolm Pirnie

WeatherThumb.jpgAt the WEF-sponsored seminar titled: Weathering the Storm, Is this the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?, it was clear that regulatory drivers such as MS4 permit requirements, CSOs and Consent Decrees, as well as storm events, can provide the impetus for creating a stormwater utility and/or a formal funding source.

This seminar brought professionals together to discuss the “state of the industry,” current challenges, and lessons learned from an EPA-regulatory perspective and a mix of new and established stormwater organizations, including
one created to address deficiencies exposed by a 100-year storm event.

There were a number of consistent messages about the need for stormwater utilities, related steps for development, and potential utility benefits.

  • When considering formation of a utility or implementation of a fee, know the legal landscape. Is there enabling legislation granting local authority to charge a fee for service?
  • Regulatory requirements drive capital and operational initiatives. These initiatives translate into formal programs reflecting level of service considerations and resulting financial needs. Without exception, the economic implications – tax or rate increases – are paramount and in the end, community values and political realities determine the acceptable level of service and acceptable taxation levels or user fees.
  • In many communities, stormwater needs compete for funding right alongside other government activities such as police and fire and in this competition, stormwater often comes up short. Shifting from taxes to a dedicated user fee produces a reliable revenue stream and “frees up” general government revenues for other purposes.
  • Examples of both successful (meaning 2-way, early and often dialogue) and failed public input efforts (the “rain tax” phenomenon) provided evidence of the importance of engaging your public.

Are you considering forming a stormwater utility or have you had challenges along the way? Know your legal authority, know your public and let them get to know you. Be prepared to address the affordability argument and political realities that the technically “right” level of service may not be the acceptable one. And if you have comments or questions, please post them here.

 

Related Resources:

See WEF's Stormwater & Wet Weather Knowledge Center for more information.

 

Posted by Julie Fuller at 06/02/2010 08:16:15 AM | 


Comments

<< April 2015 >>
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    

Blog Roll

Archive

Recent Posts