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Lynchburg’s stormwater fee collects more than expected

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Lynchburg’s stormwater fee collects more than expected

Lynchburg’s new stormwater fee is performing better than expected with revenues exceeding budget by nearly 15 percent.

The Water Resources Department plans to report to City Council next month on how the fee is doing in its first year.

The fee, which started July 1, charges landowners for the stormwater runoff their properties create.

The charge is levied against developed properties according to how much impervious surface each contains. For an average homeowner, it amounts to $4 a month. For large commercial and industrial properties, it can be several hundred dollars.

The revenue is paying for a new stormwater management division to handle a slew of water quality mandates from the federal and state governments.

The city projected the fee would bring in about $2.7 million its first year but has since revised it to $3.1 million.

Between July and September, the stormwater fee generated nearly $785,000 — about 15 percent more than expected.

In a quarterly report submitted to council’s finance committee, administrators attributed it to higher-than-expected billings and a healthy payment rate.

The stormwater fund’s budget was based on estimates for commercial and industrial properties, officials said. A comprehensive inventory found more impervious surface than expected on those properties, resulting in higher billings.

In addition, the stormwater fee had a 2 percent non-payment rate in its first quarter. The budget had allowed for a 5 percent non-payment rate.

“The uncollectibles have been fantastic; it’s a very, very small percentage at this time,” Greg Poff, assistant director of Water Resources, said.

Poff said the department won’t recommend reducing the fee to council as the city will face more and more expenses as the new water quality regulations take effect.

The city has consistently said it expects the fee will have to increase over time to keep up with those requirements.

Local property owners can qualify for a credit of up to 50 percent off their fee by installing certain stormwater management improvements, such as rain barrels for homeowners or bioretention ponds for commercial properties.

To date, the city has only nine accounts receiving a stormwater credit. Five are residential and their total combined credits add up to $6.72 a month, according to the city.

The other four accounts are non-residential and their credits total $366 a month.

To learn more about the credit program, call Water Resources at 485-RAIN (485-7246).

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Written by vaphc

December 27, 2012 at 10:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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