Before the fee, the City used general tax revenues to support its stormwater efforts. This pulls money away from projects and programs in other departments. Like many other Texas communities, the City is required to comply with the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) Phase II program for Municipal Separate Storm Systems (MS4s). Many north Texas cities have had a stormwater utility fee in place for years.
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That is the stormwater utility fee, which was approved by the University Park City Council in December 2003. The fee is designed to raise money to pay for federal- and state-required improvements to the city's stormwater, meaning any water that goes down the storm drain and ultimately into Turtle Creek and the Trinity River.
"Impermeable" refers to hard surfaces, such as concrete or roofs, that do not allow water to permeate or infiltrate them. Impermeable surfaces result in the runoff, meaning water that drains off a piece of property and goes elsewhere.
The stormwater utility fee is based on an approximate amount of impermeable surface for properties of the same zoning classification. For residential parcels, separate rates were developed for each zoning classification. An average residential unit (in this case, Single Family 4 zoning) was used as the basis for the fees. The proposed rate was divided by the average impervious area of the parcels in this class to determine the rate per square foot of impervious area. The resulting cost per square foot was used to set the other rate classes. Residential rates are based upon specific classes of residential land use, and each class is billed its own flat rate. Nonresidential customers are billed based on the maximum allowable impermeable area for that property under local development regulations.
The proposed residential rate structure is as follows. Duplex and multi-family properties will be billed on a per-unit basis.
Nonresidential (i.e., commercial) properties are assessed at $0.0022 per square foot of the maximum allowable impermeable area for their property.
View the zoning map page.
The City Council approved the fee after extensive review by the Public Works and Finance Advisory Committees, City staff, and engineering consultants. Articles in the City newsletter and a public hearing in December 2003 preceded the final adoption by the Council.
The fee's revenue is used to implement the City's stormwater management program. The program includes stormwater or drainage capital projects; operational costs, such as maintenance of storm sewers, ponds, and streams; and support for environmental compliance programs.
The City can generate funds in a more equitable manner. The utility fee allows the City to levy a charge that is proportional to the cost of stormwater service for that property. In contrast, with general taxes, each property owner pays the same percentage of their property tax rate to support the stormwater program, regardless of the amount of runoff their property generates. Under this approach, some entities also benefit from stormwater services but pay nothing.
Stormwater management involves control of stormwater quantity and quality. Stormwater quantity management focuses on managing the volume or amount of stormwater as well as the speed of runoff resulting from various storms. Stormwater quality management focuses on the prevention of water pollution by requiring best management practices for various activities, including construction.
Municipalities and utility districts utilize best management practices, including development policies, capital projects to construct stormwater sewers, ditches, and basins, and operational practices to ensure stormwater management. The goals of these efforts are improved drainage, prevention of flood damage, and improved water quality.