The citizens of DeKalb County are facing an increasingly acute and complex set of stormwater management challenges as the County continues to grow and prosper. The primary challenges include the aging and deterioration of existing stormwater drainage infrastructure and increasing requests for the maintenance and repair of stormwater drainage structures.
DeKalb County responded to these challenges by establishing a Stormwater Utility (SWU). . The County determined that a stormwater utility provides the most practical and appropriate means of properly delivering storm water management service and facilities. With the adoption of the SWU the ability to assess a SWU fee was also established. The SWU fee is the most practical and appropriate means of funding stormwater management service in the County. The fees provide for an equitable assignment of costs because it is calculated in direct proportion to the type of property and the amount of impervious surface on the property. As a result of implementing the user fee in 2004, the County is better able to provide stormwater services to its citizens.
For more information on DeKalb County’s stormwater management, call the County’s Roads & Drainage Division at:
Stormwater Management 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.