Sunday, January 1, 2017

Revamping the Stormwater Management Fee

I'm sure by now, you have all received your 2017 Stormwater Management Fee. Some people have referred to this fee as a "rain tax." Each single family home, duplex, or townhome is charged for one Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU), regardless of size. All other properties, including places of worship, are charged 1 ERU for each 2,400 square feet of impervious surface.

Every home is charged a yearly fee of $96.00, or $94.08 if paid by 1/31/2017. Some homes in Mt. Lebanon have leach beds, which do not feed into the stormwater management system, yet are still charged a stormwater fee. Starter homes in Mt. Lebanon are charged the same amount as the mansions in Virginia Manor.

While the commissioners contemplate PAYT or SMART, whichever is the acronym du jour, perhaps they should take a step back and look at how inequitable their rain tax is.

Also, take note of what Jordan Tax Service charges us for our sewage bill. It is a flat rate of $4.36 per bill.  I am paying, on average, close to a monthly 28% fee. I questioned this service charge with Jordan Tax Service, only to be told that it is what Mt. Lebanon agreed to pay. When bringing it to Andrew McCreery's attention, I was told that is what Jordan is charging us, and Mt. Lebanon has no control of it. It sounded negotiable to me. So which is it?

While on the subject of utilities, I spoke with an electrical supplier about negotiating a municipal rate. It is possible, but when I presented the idea to the commissioners, the idea was rejected.

When all of these inequities are corrected, I will be the first one to praise PAYT/SMART, but until then, it is just another bad idea coming from the Municipal Building.


Anonymous said...

Nailed it once again,Elaine!
Why should a resident with a 1/4 acre lot pay the same as someone with a full acre or more?

PAYT proponents that believe it's the fair thing, care to defend your position?

Anonymous said...

Be prepared, the PIO will be "educating" us soon with their "doublespeak"on the need for PAYT.

"Baram asked commissioners to not use the $20,000 in the 2016 budget to “engage the community for the input needed to customize a possible program,” with the hope of spending it in 2017 for educational purposes."

Anonymous said...

According to the county assessment page we have individual properties that comprise square footages that are far above the 1 ERU.
Some are 5,000, 10,000 and even 20,000 sq. ft. in area.

Why should they pay the same storm water fee as the homeowner with the tiniest lot?

Let's demand a Pay As You Drain (PAYD) stormwater program! We must be fair, right?

Anonymous said...

In all likelihood, those huge properties are highly landscaped and deposit huge amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers into our storm system which find their way into our rivers and streams.

So a PAYD system is GREEN too, hopefully forcing these landowners to think twice before dumping their lawn "stuff" into the water system.

Anonymous said...

In the spirit of PAYT/SMART...
the county has the square footage of every property on the Assessment page.

So right now the municipality charges every resident $96 a year for 1 ERU which they set at 2,400 sq. ft.

$96 divided by 2,400 sq. ft. = 4¢ per sq. ft. (I wonder how they arrived at that 1 ERU being fair?)

So let's go Pay As You Drain!

A homeowner with say an 1,800 sq. ft. lot pays $72/year in stormwater fees.

A homeowner with a 12,000 sq. ft. lot would be obligated to pay $480/year in stormwater fees.

The homeowner with a 20,000 sq. ft. lot would pay $800/year.

It's not all that hard to figure out or manage, the numbers and lot sizes already exist.

I mean the mindset exist with the commissioners that we should all pay what we throw, what we use, so let's do it.

We might even find with a huge number of big lots paying their fair share, the municipality could avoid a huge windfall by reducing the multiplier of 4¢ down to 3 or 3.5¢.

Thinking outside the box, right Nick?

Anonymous said...

Right on 4:19. Now if we can only somehow transfer this "thinking outside the box" mentality to the commissioners, we'd be doing great.

Nick M.

Anonymous said...

My opinion Nick, I don't think you can transfer original thinking to anyone, they must be predisposed to it. We can look for and organize to find candidates though and that might be easier.

Anonymous said...

That is true how long do you think it will take to find those candidates?

Nick M.

Anonymous said...

Wish I had an answer. We had a good one and her ward didn't support her.

Anonymous said...

Have others suffered from Jordan Tax Service changing their accounts numbers every year? This makes tracking payments extremely difficult. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I wonder if the commissioners and municipal staff do this sort of thinking/testing or head straight for spend & tax, spend & tax...

Think Like a Futurist to Be Prepared for the Totally Unexpected

The Wall Street Journal

The art and science of futuring is fast becoming a necessary skill, where we read signals, see trends and ruthlessly test our own assumptions, writes Christopher Mims.

"Futuring is no longer just for futurists, says Ms. Webb. Like the ability to make a budget or think critically, it’s a skill that anyone who has to make long-range decisions should, and can, acquire. Doing it at the scale required by a corporation might require weeks of effort by a team of people, but for individuals it can be much simpler.

“It doesn’t require a Ph.D. and a complicated nine-month process,” says Mr. Smith, who adds, “We can do this in 15 minutes at a table in Starbucks and come to some kind of interesting realization.”

Anonymous said...

The stormwater fee is a Regressive Tax!

What's a Regressive Tax?

BREAKING DOWN 'Regressive Tax'
A regressive tax affects people with low incomes more severely than people with high incomes. While it may be fair in some instances to tax everyone at the same rate, it is seen as unjust in other cases. As such, most income tax systems employ a progressive schedule that taxes high earners at a higher percentage rate than low earners, while other types of taxes are uniformly applied. Examples of regressive taxes include sales taxes, user fees and, arguably, property taxes.

Regarding the property tax, Mr. Mortel's excellent exposé on the MTL's reassessments verifies that.