Hampton’s annual fee for stormwater, pollution control approved

Friday, December 6, 2019 | 12:01 AM

An ordinance on the stormwater management and pollution control fee of $115 was passed 5 to 0 at the Dec. 4 Hampton Township Council Meeting.

This annual fee is based upon the average of each residential unit’s amount of impervious surface on their property,

Municipalities are being required to adhere to the state’s MS4 program, which includes managing stormwater, water quality, and pollutant reduction, according to Gateway Engineer’s Ryan Berner, a certified geographic information systems professional, who presented at an October Hampton council meeting.

The ordinance fee would create a utility fund to be used for development, collection, management, maintenance and pollution control of stormwater.

Homeowners are determined to have an equivalent residential unit of 3,300 square feet of impervious surface on their property, such as driveways, walkways, parking areas, or roofs. This calculation was derived from evaluating a sampling of homes in Hampton.

MS4s, or Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems, are the “conveyance or system of conveyances that collects stormwater within an urbanized area,” per the Gateway presentation.

The cost to implement this program is approximately $1.3 million per year for five years, said Berner.

Hampton has 66 miles of pipelines, and approximately 40 stormwater facilities to date with much of it aging infrastructure, according to Christopher Lochner, municipal manager for the township.

Commercial properties, such as businesses, churches, schools, industrial or government buildings, are also calculated at $115 per year per ERU as measured. Their fee will be assessed based upon the number of square feet of impervious surface, and determined by measurement through aerial photography and surface feature evaluation, according to the ordinance.

“With a utility fee every property owner, residential or nonresidential, would be subject to a fair fee distribution and this funding is set aside specifically for stormwater management,” according to the ordinance.

Federal and state regulations require municipalities to implement a program of stormwater controls and are required to obtain a permit for stormwater discharges from their separate storm sewer systems under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

A credit to the stormwater management and pollution control fee was also included in the ordinance and may be amended by a resolution when needed. It is a 25-percent credit for a single-family resident property and a 50-percent credit for non-residential properties, according to Lochner. Non residential has a higher credit, due to the larger size of possible impervious surface.

To qualify for the credit, the applicant would file with the township and a representative from the township would then review their application to see if it meets the requirements as set forth in the Credit Manual, said Lochner.

Jeffrey Potter, senior pastor at Parkwood United Methodist Church on Mt. Royal Boulevard, offered public comment noting that it would “double tax its members” who would have to foot the bill of paying a church’s fee. Potter said they, along with other places of worship, depend solely on the collection of its members to fund not only their own building or maintenance fees, but also its many outreach programs including helping those with financial assistance or food.

“We see it not as a fee but a tax without terminus,” said Potter.

They calculate their fee to be $3,000, “which for a church is big.”

“We’re not trying to not pay our fair share but our worshipers are already paying their share,” said Potter.

He was asking council to consider exempt nonprofits with a 501(c)(3) status.

However, township legal counsel said they cannot exempt one place and place a fee on another, or choose which nonprofit shouldn’t have to pay a fee, according to Lochner.

Lochner added this is a utility fee, not a tax.

Council President Mike Peters said the result would be subsidizing the nonprofits and, while they understand the issue, they have to be fair to all properties.

“They still have infrastructure that contributes to the problem,” said Peters.

Total proposed or expected fund revenue from the fee is $1,237,815, according to Lochner. Of that, tax exempt property revenue is estimated to be $176,375 or 14.25 percent of the total revenue.

This means that other property owners would have to foot this bill if the tax exempt properties didn’t, said Peters.

The ordinance also states that the base ERU rate of $115 per ERU shall be reviewed and revised if necessary at least once every five years.

There will also be established a dedicated stormwater account separate from all other township accounts or funds.

The ordinance also establishes a 2-percent discount for those property owners who pay the whole year’s fee within the first 30 days of the calendar year. There will also be a penalty for unpaid or delinquent bills after 30 days of the bill date.

A person can appeal an ordinance if they feel there was an error in the establishment of one.

The ordinance will go into effect Jan. 1, concurrent with the 2020 proposed township budget if the latter is passed. The proposed budget is set to be voted upon at council’s Dec. 18 at meeting at 7:30 p.m.