Some businesses can get stormwater fee reduction

Dan Besse

Some businesses can get stormwater fee reduction
April 06
05:45 2017



Some non-residential properties will now have a chance for reduced stormwater maintenance fees, but criticisms of the fee on other government properties persists.

Stormwater fees go to the Stormwater Management Program, which protects surface waters within the city from pollution caused by stormwater that flows from streets, parking lots and yards. The program is mandated by the Federal Clean Water Act for larger municipalities, but cities have discretion on how to fund it.

Winston-Salem charges per acre of impervious surface for non-residential properties. A change in the fee that passed last week allows for a credit for some of those properties that install stormwater management devices, such as stormwater retention ponds. Such devices let stormwater flow off a property in a cleaner, more controlled fashion. The credit is up to 25 percent for the quantity of stormwater reduction and another potential 25 percent for the quality, or cleanliness of the stormwater collected.

However, this credit is only for non-residential properties built before the current stormwater management requirements went into effect in 2008. Those who built after that and were required to have stormwater management devices on their property by city ordinance don’t qualify. The credit will go into effect six months after it was passed.

“We’re looking to create an incentive for existing businesses to construct stormwater management systems on their property,” said City Council Member Dan Besse, who heads the public works committee.

Stormwater Management Director Keith Huff used the example of the city’s many older shopping centers, as the sort of properties that could take advantage of the credit.

County commissioners such as Ted Kaplan and Don Martin have criticized stormwater fees that the county and other government entities have to pay, arguing that residents are taxed multiple times since the money residents pay to county, state and federal government is used to pay for the fees.

This was a source of tension between the city and county at Smith Reynolds Airport before the city agreed to give the airport development funds to offset its stormwater cost. The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system paid $233,391 in stormwater fees in 2015, which is the highest in the city.

Martin, who is also a former local superintendent, said that putting in the required stormwater management is expensive for the school system, costing more than $2 million for the site that contains Kennedy High School and the Career Center. Martin said he didn’t like that the discount won’t apply to those who had to follow the ordinance.

“That makes zero sense to me,” said Martin.

Martin said with all the renovations done in recent years, he wasn’t sure if many school properties could take advantage of the credit. He couldn’t think of any county properties that could use it.

County Commissioners have repeatedly asked legislators for a law exempt-ing government entities from stormwater fees. Currently, a bill introduced in the General Assembly by Rep. Debra Conrad, R-Forsyth, would exempt runways and taxiways from stormwater fees.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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