What’s my fee?
Single Family Residential Tiered Fee Structure
Residential properties, such as condos, townhomes, and single family homes, will be billed using a tiered method. Single family residential property owners will pay based on the type of property they own. There are over 43,000 single family residential properties in the City, and this tiered method balances the need of the fee to be equitable while reducing the administrative costs needed. These rates are based on GIS analysis of impervious area of all single family residential properties in the City. This impervious area calculation only considers hard surfaces that a rain drop could fall on, so it does not consider the interior square footage of a house.
This diagram shows the single family residential tiers and the fee on an annual basis. For example, the owner of a townhouse would pay approximately $59 per year or $29 bi-annually.
Learn more about the Stormwater Utility Fee and the services it funds.
How do I pay?
Most customers will receive
the bill as a line item on their real estate tax bill that is received directly
or through their mortgage company in May and October each year. Properties who
do not pay real estate tax, will receive a bill for just the stormwater utility
How can I reduce my fee?
The City is working on developing the Phase 2 Credit Policy, which will include a menu of single family homeowner best management practices eligible for fee reduction. The goal of the credit policy is to provide homeowners who install stormwater management practices with an opportunity to apply for credits beginning December 1, 2018 to potentially reduce the 2019 Stormwater Utility Fees.
In April 2018, the City requested feedback on several BMPs and single-family home stormwater management best practices. The City received 200 responses with 7 out of 10 homeowners indicating that they’d be interested in installing a stormwater management practice on their property, most (63%) regardless of potential stormwater utility fee credit. Roughly 1 in 3 are most willing to install either conservation landscaping or rain barrels on their properties. These two practices are relatively inexpensive and easy to do.
When deciding which BMP to choose, the response most frequently chosen as extremely important was that it removes pollutants from runoff, followed closely by having affordable maintenance.
Missed the feedback form? We'd still like your input.
The City will be presenting the recommended Phase 2 Stormwater Utility Credit Policy in two public meetings, before bringing the policy before City Council this October.
The City is seeking continued feedback on the development of the City's Phase 2 Stormwater Utility Fee Credit Policy. City staff is conducting public outreach by directly engaging the community. Consistent with the Stormwater Public Outreach Framework, City Staff has made presentations on the Stormwater Utility Fee and Phase 2 Credit Policy to local groups, including:
- Del Ray Civic Association
- NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association
- Environmental Policy Commission
- Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations
- Clover-College Park Civic Association
- Rosemont Citizens Association
- First Owners Association
Residents interested in having City staff visit their community, business, or non-profit organizations to discuss stormwater management and the Stormwater Utility Fee should email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting or call 703-746-4357 (HELP) for more information.
These FAQs address the most common questions from homeowners. For more information, see FAQs on the Stormwater Utility Fee.
1. How is the Stormwater Utility Fee different from the water bills I receive?
The Stormwater Utility Fee is based on the generation of stormwater runoff and pays for the management of that stormwater by the City. Most residents will receive the bill as a line item on their real estate tax bill that is received directly or through their mortgage company. In addition to the Stormwater Utility Fee most Alexandria residents receive two other water-related bills – one from Virginia American Water, which provides clean water to your home, and one from AlexRenew, which cleans your dirty water after it is flushed to the sanitary sewer.
2. Is this related to the combined sewer overflow mitigation?
No. The State and Federal mandates for reducing combined sewer overflows are different than the those for reducing stormwater pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, which motivated the adoption of the Stormwater Utility Fee.
3. How is the fee more equitable than a tax?
Beginning January 1, 2018, the fee replaced the half-cent set-aside in the tax rate, as well as additional general fund contributions for stormwater management, equaling about two cents per $100 of taxed properties’ assessed value. We estimate that residential property owners have about 37% of the City’s impervious area, but were paying about 58% of stormwater management services through their tax burden. Instead, the fee is based on a property’s impervious area contribution to stormwater and requires all properties with impervious area to pay, including tax-exempt properties.
4. How is the rate determined?
The City of Alexandria sets the Stormwater Utility Rate for each billing unit called an Equivalent Residential Unit or ERU. The billing unit is defined as 2,062 square feet of impervious area, which is typical for a detached single family home in the City of Alexandria. Properties within the residential tiered rate structure are charged a flat-fee that is based on a comparison of the impervious area typical of each tier against a typical single-family residential unit. The annual stormwater utility fee is calculated by multiplying the approved FY rate by the number of ERUs. The rate is reviewed annually and set by the city council to be effective July 1 each year.
5. How is my tier determined?
The tier for residential properties is generally based on land use.
- Condo tier includes garden-style and hi-rise condos
- Townhouse tier includes townhouse-style condos, row townhouses, and semi-detached houses
- Typical and large single family tiers include detached houses
The designation between typical and large single family homes is based on impervious area. The impervious area is different than the floor area inside a house. Impervious areas include hard surfaces like driveways and roofs which don’t let rain or snow melt soak into the ground. We measure the amount of impervious area by what a bird would see from above.
6. Are homeowner or condo associations charged a fee?
No, homeowner or condo associations are not charged a fee, instead individual residential homeowners are charged a flat fee.
7. Is the City’s mapping of my property’s impervious area correct?
The impervious area is mapped from aerial photos with the actual measurement done via computer imaging, which produces a high degree of accuracy. While most residential properties will pay a flat fee regardless of the mapped impervious area, the impervious area determines whether a detached single family home falls within the typical or large fee tier.
The city can provide a map to single family detached residential property owners having over 2,800 square feet of impervious area in the large single family residential tier. To request a map, please email us at email@example.com
Property owners in the large single family tier may submit an appeal for an error in impervious area consistent with the adopted ordinance. More information on Appeals is available on the Stormwater Utility Fee Information webpage.
8. No stormwater runs off my property, can I appeal or get a credit?
The reason for adopting the Stormwater Utility Fee was to more equitably fund the installation of costly new stormwater infrastructure to meet state and federal mandates for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. However, the fee also funds operations and maintenance of the existing stormwater drainage infrastructure, to include routine cleaning and repairs, to mitigate nuisance flooding and protect local water quality. Once the City meets the Chesapeake Bay mandates, we’ll need to operate and maintain the new and existing stormwater drainage infrastructure, as well as continue to administer other aspects of the stormwater management program.
No property can infiltrate or store runoff from every storm just as no storm drainage system can handle every storm. Drainage systems, including storm drains, pipes, ditches and creeks, are designed to hold a specific amount of stormwater. After the Phase 2 credit policy is adopted, homeowners can apply for a partial credit off their fee for eligible stormwater management practices. Most eligible practices are designed to manage the runoff from smaller, more frequent storms. This is intentional, as management of stormwater from small storms makes a dramatic impact on water quality as most pollutants are picked up by the first few inches of rain runoff into our local waterways and stormwater BMPs on private property potentially contribute to the meeting the City's mandated Chesapeake Bay Pollution Reduction Goals. Only a partial credit is offered, because the City provides other stormwater stormwater management services described above, including stormwater management on public land and street right-of-ways.
Property owners can appeal their fee if an error was made in billing (see more on the Stormwater Utility Fee Information webpage). Note that the appeals process is different from the credit application process. Appeals are due within 30 days of billing. Credit applications will be due during the annual application window from December 1st to February 15.
9. What are stormwater Best Management Practices or BMPs?
Best management practices (BMPs) treat stormwater runoff from an impervious surface by improving its water quality. BMPs can include structural or nonstructural management practices that include large regional ponds treating hundreds of acres or smaller BMPs treating a portion of a single family residential roof or lot.
For more information, including detailed design standards and specifications, check out the resources on post-construction BMPs from the Virginia Stormwater BMP Clearinghouse. Note that site conditions or homeowners’ association rules may preclude the installation of certain practices on your property.
10. How can I get technical and financial assistance for installing BMPs?
Property owners who are interested in installing BMPs may apply to be receive financial incentives and technical assistance from the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP). BMPs eligible for VCAP and cost-share funding may be eligible for credit in the Phase 2 Credit policy being developed in 2018.