Drainage Utility Fee
When rain falls in natural areas, most of the water stays on the land or is absorbed into the ground. The rest of the water runs over land to drainage channels and eventually to Town Creek and Barons Creek. In developed areas with buildings, parking lots, and other "hard" surfaces, most of the storm water is prevented from absorbing into the ground. As a result, these areas typically have significantly more storm water runoff.
Storm water management is needed to protect our community and environment from the potential impacts of storm water runoff, such as flooding, erosion, damage to aquatic habitat, and pollution of streams and rivers. In 1992, the City took a proactive stance and created a Drainage Utility to better serve our community. This utility was designed to protect the citizenry from the loss of life and property caused by surface water stagnation within the boundaries of the service area in order to maintain and improve existing water drainage facilities belonging to the City of Fredericksburg.
What is a Drainage Utility and what are the benefits?
A drainage utility operates in a similar manner to electric, solid waste, water, and wastewater utilities. Users pay for the services provided, which in this case includes effective flood control, erosion protection, and vegetation management. A utility fee is charged to all customers within the City based on their use of storm water facilities.
A drainage utility provides us the following benefits:
- Allows the City to enhance existing programs and undertake new projects. A number of projects to control flooding and improve drainage throughout the City may be completed.
- Provides relief for street funding currently being directed to storm water management. The updated utility fees will free up street funds for more appropriate uses such as resurfacing streets and pothole repairs.
- Facilities compliance with stringent environmental regulations. Today's state and federal water regulations set high standards for controlling the quantity and quality of runoff to protect the environment. This utility assists in meeting key regulations with which the City must comply.
What are the current Drainage Utility Fee Rates?
In 2019, drainage utility fees were revised to make it a more equitable way of distributing the cost to install, operate, and maintain storm water management facilities and programs. Residential properties are divided into four tiers, based on size and contribution. The basis for the tier determination is the average impervious area for houses in the City. These properties pay a flat rate of $3.00 to $9.00 per month for their respective tier classification.
Similarly, non-single family residential properties (commercial, multi-family, churches, etc.) are divided into six tiers, based on size and contribution to the stormwater system. These properties pay a flat rate of $3.00 up to $200.00 per month for their respective tier classification.
What will the drainage revenue be used for?
The current drainage utility fee structure generates an annual revenue of approximately $600,000. In 2016, the City partnered with Freese & Nichols, Inc., on a Drainage Master Plan. This plan identified drainage issues throughout the City and provided conceptual solutions and costs to address the issues. Through this process, 23 projects with a total estimated cost of over $36 million were identified and ranked with project costs ranging from $85,000 to $14 million. The new fee structure revenue is used to fund a portion of a stormwater/vegetation management program to handle the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the City's stormwater infrastructure and provide a dedicated revenue source to complete some of the larger capital improvement projects identified in the Drainage Master Plan.