Current Stormwater Drainage Projects
Throughout the Village, there is a network of pipes, gutters, swales, waterways and ponds that serves to drain rainwater off of streets, sidewalks, parking lots, driveways and rooftops, and to prevent flooding during heavy rains. This stormwater drainage system has been in existence in the Village for several decades and requires considerable maintenance, upgrades and repairs to function properly.
As important as this system is to the Village, it has never had a predicable source of revenue it could rely on for needed improvements. As a result, the system now experiences numerous failures each year and has not been updated to provide the most effective and environmentally conscious means of managing stormwater runoff before it enters our waterways.
How it works
Stormwater results from a rain storm. Higher volumes of precipitation cannot all be absorbed by plants and soils, and land covered by impervious surfaces such as roads, parking lots, driveways and buildings also cannot absorb rain. Collectively, water that can’t be absorbed flows to the Village’s stormwater system and eventually into our local canals, waterways and the Lake Worth Lagoon.
High volumes of stormwater runoff also can erode stream banks and deposit sediments that can be damaging to aquatic life. As stormwater travels to our waterways, it picks up pollutants which degrade water quality. The pollutants that make their way to our open waterways come from everyday items such as oil leaking from cars as well as pesticides and fertilizers used in our yards. Because pollutants come from so many sources, it is hard to pinpoint specific pollutants back to a singular specific point, cause or place.
The importance of caring for our natural resources through clean water initiatives was highlighted in the Village of North Palm Beach Citizens’ Master Plan (adopted in 2016). The Citizens’ Master Plan identified the establishment of a Stormwater Utility and the use of a dedicated funding source to address stormwater runoff issues as a high priority initiative for the Village.
Setting fee amounts
To address stormwater infrastructure needs, municipalities often levy stormwater fees on landowners based on the potential for their property to generate runoff. Typically, fees are calculated based on the size of the property and the amount of development on site.
Unlike general tax revenue, money generated from stormwater fees must be dedicated solely to stormwater management programs and projects. A stormwater fee allows the Village not only to address the collective impact of pollution caused by stormwater runoff, but make immediate repairs to sections of the existing stormwater system that are deteriorating, sometimes to the point that sinkholes are being formed in streets and on private property.
The Village is developing a Stormwater Master Plan to identify the strategies and projects that can be used to manage the volume and quality of stormwater runoff.
The fee being considered by the Village is based upon a unit of measure called an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). An ERU is commonly defined as the average measured Impervious Area (IA) per parcel of one or more residential billing classes — usually the average impervious area on a single-family residential parcel.
Billing rates can be flat or variable, with flat fees traditionally assigned to property classes with relatively homogenous property use, such as single-family residences, and variable fees assigned to classes with more property development variability, such as commercial properties. An ERU is a unit of measure used to equate non-residential or multi-family residential properties to a specific number of single-family residences.
To calculate the ERU, data from the Village and Palm Beach County were analyzed and used to estimate impervious area coverage by property use class. All land parcels other than public schools and rights of way are subject to the proposed stormwater utility fee. The Village’s ERU uses the average lot coverage on single-family residential properties as the basis for the proposed fee.
Proposed fee amount
The Village Council set the Assessment Roll for the Stormwater Fee at two public meetings in 2021. This fee is the amount that will be paid by each property owner in the Village, unless the rate is changed again at two future public meetings. The current fee is $7.78 monthly per ERU, which equates to $93.36 annually. However, to offset this increase, in 2021 the Council lowered the property tax rate from $7.50 per $1,000 of taxable value to $7.05 -- a 6% drop.
The rate is based upon assumed annualized maintenance costs that are estimated to range from approximately $380,000 to over $1 million. The recommended level of service to be implemented costs about $515,000. While this amount is based upon an assumed level of maintenance of the stormwater system, it is really intended, at least for the first year, to complete repairs to sections of the system that have failed or are failing and give the Village residents and businesses time to adjust to the new stormwater fee while still progressing towards new stormwater management and water quality objectives.
A credit program is being developed to improve equity and to encourage property owners to install acceptable and effective systems to reduce stormwater runoff volume and/or peak discharge rate, thus reducing demand on the Village system. This work will be completed in conjunction with the Stormwater Master Plan.
For more information, contact:
Village of North Palm Beach