Brookhaven, GA, May 17, 2017 – by Trey Benton – The City of Brookhaven is contemplating raising stormwater fees on commercial properties as part of a 10-year plan for the Stormwater Fund. The proposed increase is the first in this area since the City adopted the Stormwater Ordinance and its Fee Structure in 2013.
The stormwater fee rates in Brookhaven are $5 per month per equivalent residential unit (ERU) or $60 per year per ERU. A single family parcel is considered to be 1 ERU. For multi-family and condominium, the City says each unit is considered to be 0.5 ERU. For non-residential, 3,000 sf of impervious area is equal to 1 ERU, respectively. The stormwater utility fee is billed with the annual property tax bill to Brookhaven residents. DeKalb County collects and forwards the receipts (less an administration fee) in the last quarter of every year to the City.
If approved, this proposed 10-year escalating Stormwater Fee increase will be used to pay for future projects including the implementation of two watershed studies, flood control projects, voluntary home buyout local match programs, and other efforts.
As described in the May 9th City Council Work Session the fund will require additional resources in order for the City to accomplish certain goals and needs. The rate charged to residential property owners also needs to increase says the City, although grants and low interest loans will be sought. But, these mechanisms alone will not cover the costs associated with planned and future stormwater projects.
The near-term recommendations presented to Councilmembers on May 9th, only impacts non-residential properties, however.
According to the City, their 10-year plan will include periodic increases in the base ERU rate for all properties around the years 2020, 2023 and 2026. At present, the plan is conceptual and the City Council will consider annually, any stormwater expenditures and review the need for rate increases as part of the budgetary process.
City Manager Christian Sigman briefed Councilmembers highlighting that approving the near-term recommended rate structure change, does not commit the City Council to any expenditure levels or rate changes reflected in the latter years of the conceptual 10-year plan.
“Implementation of any rate changes or rate structure changes is dependent on the process schedule for the administration of property tax bills controlled by the County,” said Sigman. “If, after reviewing the conceptual 10-year plan, the City Council desires to delay consideration of the targeted rate structure changes for non-residential properties until a larger rate structure review can occur, the Administration will put together the 2018 expenditure budget for the Stormwater Fund based on current revenue collection.”
The current rate increase proposal generates an additional estimated $334,000. “For perspective, this amount equates to one Osborne Road-sized flood control project or 2-3 smaller watershed improvement projects,” Sigman explained.
To address a concern raised by Councilwoman Linley Jones during the May 9th Work Session regarding the impact on renters, Sigman noted the proposed change in the ERU adjustment factor from 0.5 to 0.75 equates to $1.25 per month ($15 per year) per apartment unit. “We have no information as to how, or if, landlords would pass this nominal increase onto renters,” he said.
For conversations sake, when the City of Brookhaven set its initial 0.5 rental ERU rate, it was proposed they meet DeKalb’s 0.75 rate. However, Councilmembers opted to approve a 0.5 factor instead.
There has been no increases to keep up with inflationary numbers, the City says. If the rates had been indexed to inflation, the current stormwater utility fee would be $67.53 per year for non-commercial properties.
Future Capital Projects included in a 2018 Stormwater Funding Request include:
- Cartecay Drive Drainage Improvement Project
- Dresden Drive Culvert Replacement Project
- Nancy Creek WIP Projects – Study completed in 2016 – $19M over the next ten years with portion in requested to be completed in 2018
- North Fork Peachtree Creek Projects – Study funding approved April 2017 (Estimate and Extent TBD)
- 1258 Sunderland Ct $75,737.75
- 1273 W Nancy Creek Dr $41,239.00
- 1313 W Nancy Creek Dr $49,500.00
- 2733 Cove Cir $37,046.35
- 3479 Stratfield Dr (waiting for estimate)
- 1604 Harts Mills Rd $58,609.38 (Completed)
Councilmembers are expected to continue their deliberation on this topic during their May 23rd meeting.