Stormwater Utility Questions & Answers

 

Q: What is Stormwater?

A: Stormwater is any precipitation that falls from the sky, including rain, hail, and snow, and runs off a property.

 Q: What is a Stormwater Utility?

A: A stormwater utility is an enterprise fund created to finance programs and activities to control flooding, maintain clean water, and meet regulatory requirements related to stormwater. Similar utilities exist for water, sewer, electricity, and other services. Funds raised by a stormwater utility can only apply to wet weather needs and may not be used for any unrelated purposes.

Q: What do you mean by “stormwater system”?

A: Many elements make up our stormwater infrastructure, including ditches, creeks, pipes and culverts, ponds, curbs and gutters, inlets and manholes, wetlands, rain gardens, and bioswales. All developed properties in the Borough use the stormwater system.

Q: How is a stormwater utility fee calculated?

A: Impervious surface areas like rooftops, sidewalks, walkways, patio areas, driveways, parking lots, sheds, and other hard surfaces that don’t allow stormwater to do what it normally does — soak into the ground or reach trees and plants.

The stormwater utility fee is based on the amount of impervious surface area on a property. Each billing unit will be set per 2,410 square feet of impervious area.  This value represents the amount of impervious area on an average residential property in the Borough.

Q: Will there be any opportunity for appeals or credit considerations?

A:  Yes, individuals who believe the Borough’s impervious area calculation is incorrect can appeal the value and the Borough will check its measurement and revise as appropriate.  Property owners will be also be able to apply for credits if they successfully manage runoff on their property. More details about credits will come soon.

Q: Is the area of a sidewalk along a public street counted in a property’s impervious surface area?

A:  No, the Borough has not included sidewalks within the public right-of-way as part of the property’s impervious area measurement.

Q: Why is a stormwater utility the right funding solution?

A: Borough Council believes a stormwater utility fee is the right option for Carlisle for a number of reasons:

  • A fair solution:The fee would be based on the amount of runoff you contribute to the system. This approach, rather than increasing property tax (which has no relation to the runoff that a property contributes), is the most equitable way to fund the stormwater program.
  • Competition for funds:The Borough currently funds a portion of stormwater management through the General Fund. Many important programs are also funded through the General Fund and these different priorities — roads, fire, police and parks — compete with one another for these limited funds. A dedicated funding stream would ensure that the appropriate amount of monetary support and attention was given to our wet weather needs.
  • Accountability and transparency:Because user fees are dedicated to funding specific programs, citizens can see exactly how the Borough is using the revenues that are collected.

Q: How will the stormwater utility benefit our community?

A: Not only will we have the funding needed to repair crucial infrastructure and meet regulatory requirements of our state-issued stormwater permit, we will be able to beautify and strengthen our community. A stormwater utility will help us create and maintain green infrastructure like rain gardens, permeable pavers, bioswales, and more. These elements have co-benefits, including:

  • Healthier streams, rivers, and wildlife: Rainfall and snowmelt pick up whatever chemical compounds and/or trash lie on pavement and flow directly into our creeks and streams. A stormwater utility could help us restore the natural hydrologic function we disrupted with pavement and other impervious surface and would slow, cleanse, and recharge groundwater once again. This reversal would not only benefit people but also the animals and fish that rely on those water sources.
  • Less flooding: A stormwater utility could help Carlisle afford more infrastructure to manage precipitation events and maintain existing infrastructure to prevent flooding from pollution-clogged inlets. In addition, green infrastructure could help absorb and retain water, lessening the occurrence of flooding.
  • Positive economic impact: We could increase surrounding property values by improving public rights-of-way and repurposing vacant/blighted lots. We could also spur reinvestment and increase economic activity, including tourism, for nearby businesses by creating green spaces and roads that encourage multiple types of transportation.
  • Employment opportunities: A portion of the stormwater utility could be used for green infrastructure maintenance, which would provide a scale and scope of design and construction work that could be met by local companies. Green infrastructure could create a demand for workforce training and education to build capacity for these public and private jobs.
  • Crime mitigation: We could create landscape designs that maintain sight lines, define public and private spaces, control access, and encourage residents to spend time outside interacting and building stronger community ties.

You can download a copy of these frequently asked questions here.