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Stormwater Utility

What is a Stormwater Utility?
Stormwater utilities have been used as a funding mechanism since the mid 1980s, and many have been, or are currently being established in Georgia.  They operate much the same as water and wastewater utilities, but a stormwater utility charge is based on how much a property contributes to the stormwater runoff problem (i.e., how much runoff does a property pass to the City’s stormwater system for either collection, conveyance, or treatment).

How long has Covington had a Stormwater Utility?
Covington sent out their first Stormwater Utility bills in March of 2005.   The stormwater utility fees collected have allowed the City to address stormwater infrastructure repair and maintenance needs across this City. Please click here now to view Covington Stormwater System Ordinance.pdf.

Why did Covington choose this type of funding mechanism?
Though a stormwater utility fee resembles a tax, it is not.  A tax is based on property value, and a stormwater fee is tied to the amount of stormwater runoff generated by a property.  In most cases, the fee system allows for much of the financial burden to be allocated to those parcels having the greatest impact on the drainage system.  Unlike a tax, a fee is assessed to all property owners.  The collected revenue is isolated from the General Fund and must be used to support the stormwater program; nothing else.
 
When do Utility bills go out?  Who gets a Stormwater Utility bill?
The City of Covington sends out annual stormwater utility bills in August of each year.  Annual Stormwater Utility Bills are mailed out to each land owner.  Property ownership will be determined from the Newton County Tax Digest. Land owners, as recorded on January 1st, will be responsible for paying the full year amount.
Payments can be paid in full or in installments on or before the due dates. The installment option allows a property owner to pay half of the bill in September and the remaining half in December.  Reminder statements are typically mailed in November to those choosing the installment option.
 
How are Utility Fees determined?
In general terms, the amount of impervious surface on each property is considered to be the basis for determining the amount and quality of runoff that can be expected to leave a property when it rains. 
The first step in determining the charge for each property based upon its contribution is to calculate a standard billing unit called an “Equivalent Residential Unit” or ERU.  An ERU is determined by statistically generating the median size residential footprint. For Covington, this value is 2,600 square feet.  All other properties are then defined in terms of the “typical” residential impervious value.  The City will adopt a uniform rate to be applied to all properties according to their assigned ERU value. The ERU for Covington is 2,600 square feet. Please click here now to see an example fee calculation.
 
Do Stormwater Utility bills change?
The five year plan (2009-2014) was recently adjusted to reflect the projected costs of the stormwater program.  The uniform billing rate of $3.23 per ERU per month was recently reduced to $3.00.  To learn about other modifications to the stormwater billing system, please Stormwater Utility Fee Revisions.pdfStormwater Utility Fee Revisions.pdf.
 
How does the City handle Adjustments and Credits?
An adjustment is defined as a modification to a customer’s stormwater utility fee to reflect site specific runoff characteristics that are substantially different from those typically considered in the fee calculation.
A credit is defined as a percentage reduction applied to a customer’s stormwater utility fee based upon parcel characteristics or constructed BMPs that meet the criteria established in the City ordinance and policy manual. Are you eligible for an adjustment? 
See the Stormwater Utility Credit Manual.pdf and Adjustment Policy Manual for more information for more information.
 
Still have Questions?
Take a look at the list of Frequently Asked Question’s about Stormwater Utilities.
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