Stormwater Billing

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How do I read my bill?
Under the current rate structure, single-family residential homes are assigned to one of three tiers (A, B, or C) based on the impervious (built-upon) area on a lot, such as rooftops, driveways, parking lots, paved and gravel surfaces. Learn more about the tiered fee structure. Non-single-family residential properties are charged by the number of Equivalent Residential Units (ERUs) multiplied by the monthly charge of $2.70. An ERU is equal to 2,543 square feet and represents the average impervious surface area found on a single family property. Most properties in the City have been measured and assigned an impervious square footage value. The number of ERUs for non-single-family properties is determined by dividing the amount of the property's impervious surface by 2,543. Any partial ERU is counted as 1 ERU for billing purposes.

Why has my home been assessed a higher stormwater fee than other homes in my neighborhood that are clearly more expensive?
Unlike property taxes, stormwater fees are based on the amount of impervious area, not on the value of a property. The principle behind the fee assessment is that properties with more impervious area usually generate more stormwater runoff that must be managed by the City. Residents are therefore charged for the demand their properties place on the public storm drainage infrastructure.

How was the rate for household utility fees developed?
A sample was taken of properties in Greensboro. Each was measured and an average impervious surface area was determined. This average value, or Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) of 2,543 square feet was later validated using the City’s GIS (geographic information systems) application. Based on the budgetary requirements of the City’s stormwater program, an equitable rate structure was developed using the ERU as the basis for charging the stormwater fee. For additional information, contact the Stormwater Management Division at 336-373-2055.

Were other options considered to pay for the City’s stormwater program and needed improvements to the storm drainage infrastructure?
Yes. Before creation of the stormwater utility, Greensboro City Council considered various options and chose the stormwater utility fee as the preferred funding method. Most cities favor the utility fee for funding stormwater programs because it is considered to be the most reliable and cost-effective way to meet the funding requirements of federal stormwater regulations. As a utility, all fee revenue collected is solely dedicated to stormwater programs and is not used for other City programs.

How does the City know how much impervious area is on my lot?
There are a few methods used to determine impervious area in Greensboro. The City’s geographic information systems (GIS) application is the primary tool. Greensboro, like many municipalities, considers GIS to be an accurate and reliable tool for computing impervious surface areas. By converting aerial photographs into representative maps of impervious surfaces, measurements are calculated to determine the impervious square footage of lots based on Guilford County tax parcel data. The vast majority of impervious surfaces in Greensboro are mapped on the GIS application. In those instances where GIS maps are not available, impervious area data is obtained from development site plans that are certified by a qualified engineer, or from on-site measurements of impervious surfaces taken by City staff. If you feel that your impervious areas have been miscalculated, contact the Stormwater Division at 336-373-2055 or complete the Stormwater Fee Appeal Form and return it to the address listed.

How did the City determine what the impervious square foot ranges would be for each of the three single-family residential tiers?
The impervious square foot ranges are based on the principle of equally distributing the number of single-family residential properties among the three impervious tiers. Impervious area data for most single-family properties in Greensboro was captured by using the City’s geographic information systems (GIS) application. Based on this data, each tier was assigned approximately one-third the number of all single-family properties in the City.

Is the stormwater fee a tax?
No. The stormwater fee is a utility like your gas, electric, or water utility.

Is the City charging residents for rain?
While the stormwater program is in place to manage the pollution carried by stormwater runoff, the fee is in no way related to the amount of rain that falls. The fee is in place to fund the ongoing maintenance and capital improvements to the entire public storm drainage infrastructure, as well as other water quality improvement and flood hazard mitigation programs.

Hasn't the City always had storm drains?
The city has had storm drains for a long time. However, the federal regulations that require a comprehensive stormwater quality management program are relatively new and have only been effective since 1994. The utility fee enables the City to meet its responsibilities to closely manage the storm drain system, study the contents of stormwater, seek out and eliminate illicit connections and illegal dumping, enforce codes more strictly, and facilitate public awareness.

Am I still charged even if it does not rain for a long time?
Because stormwater charges are not based upon the frequency or amount of rainfall received, the stormwater fee is administered regardless of rainfall. Whether the City is experiencing drought conditions or torrential rains, ongoing efforts to maintain and implement capital improvements to the entire public storm drainage infrastructure continue while the stormwater fee remains the same.

What’s the difference between stormwater, sewer, and solid waste charges?
The stormwater charge supports programs to reduce or eliminate the pollution of stormwater runoff from residences and businesses. Wastewater charges cover sewage disposal that results from your use of drinking water. The charges are for treatment of the wastewater from your home or business. The stormwater and wastewater systems are separate systems.

I rent my house. Why am I being charged?
Responsibility for utility services is assigned by the City to the user of property. Generally, the owner is assigned responsibility for utility service costs, but the owner can choose to pass the costs on to tenants.

How is unoccupied property treated?
In general, unoccupied properties are charged the same as occupied properties because they generate runoff similar to that generated by occupied property.

What happens if I don't pay my bill?
You risk having all of your City services stopped, including water if you are a water customer. In addition, the City could place a lien against your property or file civil charges to collect.

I have a gravel driveway and no gutter lines that go to the street. Why do I have to pay for everyone else?
Gravel is an impervious surface. Like concrete or asphalt, it functions as a barrier to water absorption and places a demand on the storm drainage infrastructure. This demand is what your the stormwater fee pays for.

Why are churches and other tax exempts required to pay?
All properties within the city that have impervious surfaces contribute to the pollution runoff that finds its way into City watersheds. Therefore, all properties are expected to pay their share of the costs.

I own a commercial property. How can I reduce my storm water charge?
This may be accomplished by applying for a stormwater credit. Any owner or manager of a non-single family property can apply to the Stormwater Management Division for approval of certain structural and programmatic activities that make property behave as if it had less impervious surface. The Stormwater Credit Policy is used to calculate the appropriate utility credit. Among other Stormwater Credit Program criteria, owners of commercial properties can incorporate water quality protection measures, known as Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs), into their property design. Examples of SCMs include wet or dry detention ponds, bioretention areas, sand filters, and stormwater wetlands. For more information, view the stormwater credit policy .

How can I be exempted from the stormwater fee?
The only properties exempt from stormwater utility charges are those that have no disturbed area or less than 600 square feet of total impervious surface. All other property owners cannot be exempted unless they remove all structures and other impervious materials from the property, and re-seed and re-plant it, returning a parcel to its natural state.

I live in a multi-family residential housing complex with a private street and privately owned storm drains. Why do I have to pay the stormwater fee if the City doesn’t service our private storm drains?
The stormwater fee is collected for the purpose of maintaining the City’s public storm drainage system. In general, all residents whose properties place demands on the public drainage infrastructure are assessed a stormwater fee. While a residential complex may have a private drainage system, the stormwater runoff is still conveyed to the public drainage system. The City is then responsible for managing this runoff through the public infrastructure. In those instances where a drainage issue is on private property, the Stormwater Division is available to assist and advise owners about possible solutions.

I live in a subdivision with a storm drain that drains into a ditch. Why do I pay a stormwater fee if the City isn’t collecting the rainwater?
The City’s stormwater conveyance system includes much more than storm drains. Ditches, curbs, gutters, culverts and open stream channels all make up the citywide drainage system that conveys stormwater runoff away from structures and sites in a manner that minimizes the potential for flooding and erosion to properties. The City is responsible for maintaining the entire man-made and natural public conveyance system.

The property I live on has a detention pond that collects all of our stormwater runoff. Why is the City still charging me a stormwater fee?
A detention pond is one example of a stormwater SCM that serves to significantly reduce the amount of stormwater pollutants that exit a property. Depending on the type of development, the City may recommend or require the construction of a SCM to help manage stormwater runoff and improve water quality. However, as beneficial as these devices may be, the effectiveness is not absolute and pollutants generally still exit a property depending on a number of factors, such as the intensity and duration of rainfall. While residents must still pay the stormwater fee, the City recognizes the value of stormwater SCMs and has designed a Stormwater Credit Policy that may offer credits to eligible properties. Contact Stormwater Management for a copy of the Stormwater Credit Policy at 336-373-2055. For more information, view the stormwater credit policy.