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Stormwater Fees - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do I have to pay a stormwater fee?

The City is responsible for providing stormwater management facilities and services, including installation and maintenance of storm drains, inlets and ditches, as well as ensuring that state programs such as erosion and sediment control are provided on construction sites to protect Sligo Creek and the Chesapeake Bay. The City undertakes these measures to comply with state and federal regulations regarding water quality. Funding is not provided by the federal or state government for these services.

Maryland allows municipalities to charge stormwater fees to provide stormwater management services and attain compliance with state and federal requirements. The City has jurisdiction over long term Stormwater Management Planning for both new and redevelopment projects. State and Federal programs such as National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES MS4 Phase II) and Watershed Implementation Plan WIP Phase II based on Clean Water Act are implemented and enforced as part of the Stormwater Management Program.

How will revenues be used?

All revenues will be used to support the stormwater program, which includes:

  • Maintaining the drainage system, such as pipes and ditches;
  • Protecting properties from flooding;
  • Protecting our streams and wetlands from erosion and pollution;
  • Complying with state and federal regulatory mandates.

Will revenues be spent throughout the City?

The stormwater management program is City-wide. The revenue raised will be used exclusively for stormwater system services within the City.

Why is the stormwater management program not funded by tax revenues?

It was funded by tax revenues until fiscal year 1997; however, tax revenues were not a reliable source of funding for the program. The stormwater fee creates a more stable funding source, ensuring that the stormwater management system receives adequate funding, independent of tax revenue fluctuations. The stormwater management utility fee is also a more fair and equitable revenue source than a stormwater tax based on the assessed value of the property because:

  • The fee is based on each property’s actual contribution to stormwater runoff
  • Each property including tax exempt contributes a fair and equitable share towards the overall cost of the stormwater management program

Does that mean I pay less tax?

Yes. The dedicated portion of the property tax that was used for the stormwater program has been eliminated. The rates assessed by the City Council for stormwater management have varied from 3 cents to 8 cents per $100 of assessed value. It would require a tax of about 6 cents per $100 to generate the same amount of revenue as the stormwater fee generates. About 80 percent of single-family homeowners pay less for stormwater management under the fee system than they have paid under the property tax system.

How is the rate established and residential property fees determined?

The rate is set by the City Council, based on continued funding of historical budget levels for the stormwater management program.The current Single-Family Residential Rate is $92 per ERU.

Each single-family residential dwelling unit is billed at a flat rate each year. Multi-family dwellings and all non-residential properties will be billed at a rate that is based on their actual impervious area. For example, if a property has three times as much impervious area as the average single-family residential parcel, it will pay three times as much.

How are non-residential or multi-family property fees determined?

To determine the annual fee, divide the total impervious area by the one ERU (1,228 sf) obtain the number of ERUs and multiply by the rate. If the property has multiple owners, divide the total fee by the number of owners to obtain the fee by owner. The minimum utility fee for any developed property is never less than one ERU.

Impervious areas were determined by analyzing aerial photographs and the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s mapping data to identify the amount of impervious surfaces on each property.

Are tax-exempt properties also exempt from the stormwater fee?

No, because it is a fee, not a tax. Taxes are based on the value of the property. The stormwater fee is assessed based on how much the property contributes to the amount of stormwater runoff from the property.

Why do I have to pay when I do not have any drainage problems?

Everyone in the City benefits from the Stormwater Management Program. If stormwater runs off your property, the City must have a program and funding to manage the increase in runoff and pollutants. Direct benefits may include protecting your property from upstream runoff, protecting property downstream from your runoff, and improving water quality in Sligo Creek.

Can I pay my Stromwater fee online ?

Yes. To Pay stormwater fee online, Please Click Here

Want more information?

If you would like additional information on the stormwater management utility or have specific concerns about stormwater management issues, please visit the Maryland Stormwater Management page or contact the City Engineer.

Stormwater Management Program Sections