A proposed stormwater management fee took a step forward Thursday night when Carlisle Borough Council authorized the drafting and advertising of an ordinance creating the stormwater management fee for borough properties.
One change in the ordinance from previous meetings and discussions is that the fee would not begin on Jan. 1. If passed, the fee will take effect on July 1 to allow both residents and nonprofits to plan for the added charge. The fees would first appear on utility bills for the third quarter of 2019.
Councilman Sean Shultz suggested the change of the effective date to match the end of the fiscal year, which ends on June 30 for many nonprofits.
Residential properties in the lowest tier, those with less than 1,800 square feet of hard surfaces, would be charged $10.50 per quarter. Properties falling into the middle tier ranging between 1,800 and 3,600 square feet of hard surfaces would pay $21 per quarter. Properties with more than 3,600 square feet would fall in the upper tier and pay $31.50 per quarter.
Businesses and institutions would pay a rate based on the impervious area as measured by aerial photography at a rate of $21 per quarter per 2,410 square feet or part thereof.
Shultz acknowledged that people don’t get excited about fees, but added that the stormwater fee is necessary to deal with flooding, regulatory requirements and aging infrastructure.
“This is a step forward in doing something with stormwater that for decades we failed to do with our water and sewer fees and structure. We allowed disrepair in that infrastructure whether it was an unwillingness to increase fees or turning a blind eye to what was happening under the ground,” he said.
Councilman Sean Crampsie suggested a cap on future increases to the fee be worked into the ordinance to limit future councils and provide a measure of predictability for residents in their budgeting.
Such a cap, however, is not legal, according to Keith Brenneman, the borough’s solicitor.
“It’s not an easy decision for us as a council to make. It’s probably not the most popular thing we’ll ever do, but I don’t think we can afford to punt on an issue like this,” Crampsie said.