First Stormwater Bills to Arrive This Month; Here’s What to Expect and Why
After months of planning and discussion, city residents will receive their first stormwater bill by the end of July. Bradford city officials and the Bradford Sanitary Authority approved these fees via a resolution in April after a careful and considered evaluation with experts in law, engineering, and finance.
Single family home owners will be charged $7.90 per month, and the owners of non-residential developed properties will be charged $2.87 per one thousand square feet of impervious area.
(Impervious area is defined as a surface that cannot be penetrated by water. Roofs, patios, garages, storage sheds, swimming pools, driveways and sidewalks are all examples of impervious area. Any surface areas initially proposed to be gravel or crushed stone shall be assumed to be impervious area.)
How was the fee calculated?
The Stormwater Management Program Fee Resolution adopted in April defines impervious area per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). Bradford Sanitary Authority officials and their consultants determined the average impervious area of single family residential properties in the City of Bradford and will bill each single-family property owner as 1 ERU regardless of the actual amount of impervious area on the property.
(Determining the actual impervious area of each property for billing purposes would’ve increased the cost of implementing the program, so city officials and the Bradford Sanitary Authority decided to minimize costs for city residents by using an average instead. Property owners will be able to apply for credits that reduce their fee, as explained below.)
The amount due will appear as a separate line item on each property owner’s sewer bill.
Why is the fee necessary?
City officials and the Bradford Sanitary Authority have a responsibility to protect public health by preventing the pollution of local waterways. They also have a duty to protect property owners from the damage flooding can cause. These responsibilities carry a cost, and, for many years, this cost has been paid with general tax revenue. Unfortunately, the cost of this responsibility is increasing due to new requirements from state and federal agencies as well as aging facilities that need replacement.
Much of Bradford’s stormwater system was installed in the 1930s and has surpassed its expected life. Today, more than 35 miles of roads are served by the city’s stormwater system with more than 1,200 manholes, catch basins, and inlets. As the system has aged, funding for maintenance and rehabilitation has not kept pace.
More money is needed to repair the city’s aging system in order to successfully meet the city’s responsibility to protect public health and private property. Rather than raise taxes, city officials and the Bradford Sanitary Authority decided to implement a fee to all property owners for the stormwater services they receive. This fee is fairer than a tax because it will be paid by all property owners (even those that are tax-exempt), thereby spreading the cost over a greater number of people. The more people who contribute to the cost of managing stormwater, the lower each person’s contribution will be.