City Council directed staff in February 2016 to develop the framework of a Stormwater Utility (SWU) to provide a dedicated funding source to more equitably distribute the increasing costs of unfunded state and federal Chesapeake Bay protection mandates that require the implementation of costly infrastructure associated with stormwater management, as enforced through the City’s municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. City Council also directed staff to implement the Stormwater Utility Public Outreach Framework of directly engaging stakeholder groups to discuss the proposed SWU framework.
In 2009, the City convened an ad hoc committee to consider a dedicated funding source to address stormwater management program costs associated with increased incidents of flooding. The committee recommended the City Council implement a stormwater utility to fund these needs. Council ultimately chose to set aside ½ cent of the Real Estate tax rate to a dedicated Stormwater Fund starting FY 2010. Starting July 2013, recent state and federal pollution reduction mandates associated with the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) require that the City fund the installation of costly stormwater infrastructure to meet pollution reduction targets enforced through the City’s MS4 permit. Between 2009 and 2016, increasing operating and capital costs associated with the mandates exceeded the ½ cent dedication, demanding increasing contributions from the General Fund.
The City’s stormwater utility fee was adopted on May 4, 2017. The creation of the SWU more equitably apportions the cost obligation for Stormwater Mandates and provides a dedicated funding source for the City’s Stormwater Management Program, thus alleviating the need for General Fund support for these funding responsibilities.
Implementation of the adopted fee began in May 2017, including setting up the billing processes and administrative forms. SWU fees were first billed in 2018. City Council adopted a credit program for nonresidential properties in October 2017 and a program for residential properties in October 2018 who perform annual maintenance of structural stormwater facilities or perform other eligible activities that benefit stormwater management in the City. Implementation of the credit policies included the creation of online and paper forms, as well as public outreach on both the fees and credits.
City staff conducted public outreach on the Stormwater Utility by directly engaging the community about the Stormwater Utility Fee per the adopted Stormwater Public Outreach Framework. Staff engaged with numerous groups, associations, committees, commissions, land owners, non-profits, and individuals through in-person presentations, social media, and other contemporary public outreach strategies found in the adopted outreach strategy.
Non-Residential Fee Structure and Credits
Consistent with the Stormwater Public Outreach Framework, City staff made presentations on the Stormwater Utility Fee and Credit Policies to local groups, including:
- Carlyle Group
- Chamber of Commerce
- Federation of Civic Associations
- Eisenhower Partnership
- Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee
- Apartment and Office Building Association (AOBA)
- Northeast Old Town Civic Association
- Goodwin House
- Environmental Policy Commission
- NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association
- And more…
Additionally, City staff directly engaged non-profits and faith-based property owners with a letter campaign providing customers with information on the new fee specific to their properties and the first annual credit application window.
Residential Fee Structure and Credits
Consistent with the adopted Stormwater Public Outreach Framework, City Staff made presentations on the Stormwater Utility Fee and Phase 2 Credit Policy to local groups, including: the Environmental Policy Commission (EPC), Civic and Owner Associations: Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations, Clover-College Park Civic Association, Del Ray Civic Association, First Owners Association, Rosemont Citizens Association and developers and property managers.
Direct outreach to residents and civic associations on the now adopted Credit Policy began with an online feedback form open throughout the month of April 2018 on homeowner best management practices, which was promoted at The USPTO Green Fair, The Old Town Farmers Market, and Earth Day, on social media, and through direct invitation to participate to civic associations and the EPC. Additional outreach included a new City webpage dedicated to stormwater quality BMPs, social media campaigns about stormwater BMPs, and two public meetings on the draft credit policies held on September 6 and September 14 .
eNews and Press Releases
The following News Releases included SWU information.
- September 15, 2016 News Release - Draft Stormwater Utility Framework
- May 4, 2017 News Release - Stormwater Utility Fee Adopted
- October 3, 2017 News Release - Stormwater Utility Fee Open House
- October 19, 2017 News Release - Stormwater Utility Fee to be billed on Real Estate Bill in May 2018
- November 1, 2017 FYI Alexandria eNews - Phase 1 Nonresidential Credit Policy Adopted
- December 7, 2017 News Release - Implementation with New Viewer, Credits Program, and Open House
- November 19, 2018 News Release - Residential and Nonresidential Credits Available to Lower Stormwater Fees