Stormwater Utility Background Information
DeKalb County’s funding needs are 2 to 3 times what has historically been allocated for the limited set of stormwater management activities it currently delivers. In December 2001, DeKalb County completed an evaluation of options to fund stormwater program improvements. A stormwater utility user fee system was identified as the most appropriate source of new revenue for the following reasons:
Equity – Stormwater fees are based on planned stormwater management program expenditures, and fees are calculated using billing determinants related to customers’ stormwater contributions to the County stormwater conveyance system.
Dedication – As a utility, all revenue collected under the stormwater user fee system will be allocated directly to stormwater programs. An annual audit and financial assessment will ensure that fees continue to be related to actual costs incurred, and that expenditures are aligned to the mission of the utility.
Continuity – The stormwater management program needed by DeKalb County will require continuing funding to ensure long-term effective program implementation and environmental stewardship. Not only does the County face a daunting backlog of existing work orders, but also the challenges of delivering enhanced services to a growing community while aging and uninventoried systems continue to decline. The stormwater utility user fee system will ensure that funding for future years will be in place for the County to address its current and future stormwater management challenges.
Legality – Stormwater utility programs have proven effective at meeting the funding needs for stormwater management throughout the United States and in Georgia. When based on a rigorous utility rate study and detailed evaluation of billing determinants, stormwater utility user fees have withstood legal challenges in many cities and counties. The statutory and case law of the State of Georgia recognizes the authority and duty of counties to operate a stormwater system as a utility and authorizes the collection of fees from customers who use that system.
DeKalb County established a stormwater utility and corresponding fee, effective on January 1, 2004, that charges developed properties in DeKalb County on the basis of stormwater runoff contributions. A copy of the ordinance can be downloaded from HERE, and is also available as Article V of Chapter 25 of the DeKalb County Code of Ordinance (www.municode.com).