Meetings • Revision to Storm Water Utility Fee
The Department of Public Works (DPW) will host two public meetings to present on and answer questions about the recent storm water user fee rate adjustment. DPW staff will also demonstrate a new online tool which shows viewers the newly adjusted storm water user fee for each parcel of land in Marion County.
August 17 from 5:30 to 7pm
Southeastern Community Services, 901 Shelby Street
September 10 from 5:30 to 7pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 6050 North Meridian Street
Each meeting will include a demonstration of the new Customer Service Interface available online. Marion County property owners will learn how to use this tool to view the specific storm water user fee for each parcel as well as the amount of impervious surface on each of their properties. As of July 2015, all storm water fees are calculated based on the City’s measurement of the impervious surface area on each parcel. Impervious surface area is any ground surface where rain and storm water cannot be easily absorbed into the earth, such as paved roads, driveways, patios, cement walkways and the area covered by houses and garages.
Details and questions about the storm water tax can be answered or found by phone, via email, or online. You may call 317-327-2015 and leave a message or question for call-back in the voicemail box. Via email, contact storm firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other storm water or local flooding problems should be referred to Citizens Energy Dispatch at 317-924-3311.
Use the online resources to learn what constitutes BMP and to access the tax credit form which you must use. If you want to know more, you can read about the Storm Water Program on the indy.gov website.
Frequently Asked Questions DOWNLOAD
Indy residents can access the new Customer Service Interface Interactive MAP
The City Beat Blog
UPDATED July 24, 2015 following the public meeting hosted by Department of Public Works
Summary written by Jim Garrettson and Jerrey Finnegan
Marion County has had, for a number of years, a storm water fee that’s tacked on to your property taxes. The fee goes to implement various storm water projects around the county, and if ever here was a year in which the need is obvious, this is the year. In a normal year, the city receives about 20,000 storm water complaints, and has identified about $320 million in storm water project needs.
The current fee is $2.25 per household, which doesn’t come close to generating that kind of money. Interestingly, there are no current, or even proposed, storm water projects in Meridian~Kessler, or for that matter, in Midtown as a whole. That’s because the area doesn’t have, and likely will never have, separate storm water sewers. Instead, we have what are known as “combined” sewers, which carry both regular sewage, and storm water, and which are managed not by the city, but by Citizens. Citizens is unlikely to create a separate storm water system, and, instead, is dealing with the problem, under a settlement agreement with EPA to construct a “deep tunnel” system, wherein all excess flow will be directed to a huge underground holding area during storm events, and later, after the event subsides, pumped to its regular destination, the wastewater treatment plants, wherein it can then be properly treated before eventual discharge to the White River. That huge project has been underway for a few years now.
Why, then, are we paying any fee at all? Well, one supposes that if all of Midtown could effectively show that we never leave Midtown for other destinations within Marion County, we’d have an argument, since flooding elsewhere would never bother us. We are, however, a relatively nomadic tribe, and have been spotted all over the county, wherein it’s presumed we would like to travel without going under water. So, we pay the fee.
This year the City-County Council voted to change the way the fee is calculated. As noted above, previously the fee was a flat fee on each household or business. Henceforth, starting with the fall property tax payment, the fee will be based on the amount of non-permeable property you own. Put more simply, if water falls on your property and dissipates into the ground, say through a lawn, garden, or ground cover, that area won’t be subject to the fee (which is really a tax). For the portions of your property where that doesn’t happen, say, your house, garage, patio, driveway, or sidewalk, you will be taxed.
The city invested in a system that has already calculated your impervious property, which, like other things government does, may or may not be absolutely correct. Impervious property includes rooftops on all buildings, private (not public) sidewalks, concrete or stone patios (even brick with sand infill), and compacted gravel driveways.
If you believe you are taxed in error you can apply for a credit for pervious surfaces or for utilizing Best Management Practice (BMP). An obvious example, the city may have mistaken your carefully planned pervious driveway, for an impervious drive, but, as with your occasionally imperfect property tax assessments, it’s going to be subject to appeal. You’re even entitled to deductions for such neat things as on-site water storage (rain barrels), rain gardens, vegetated filter strips or bioswales. The appeal process will cost you a $50 application fee and will be good for 3 years; you must maintain the BMP features in order to achieve a renewal. How they check this at individual residences remains a bit of a question. The maximum credit however is up to 25% of your storm water tax for your BMP efforts.
So what’s this going to cost you? The city has come up with something called a BBU. One BBU is anything from 1 to 1000 sq. ft. of impermeable property. 2 BBU’s is anything for 1001 to 2000 sq. ft., etc. The proposed rate is currently $1.10 per month, per BBU, or $13.20 per year if you have one BBU, $26.40 if you have two, etc. The city estimates that the average cost will be$4.40/month or $52.80 per year. Further, the rate is pegged to the Consumer Price Index, which basically means it’s indexed to inflation.