Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?

Posted June 2, 2010 

By Rick Giardina, CPA, WEF Utility Management Committee, Vice President, Red Oak Consulting, a division of Malcolm Pirnie

WeatherThumb.jpgAt the WEF-sponsored seminar titled: Weathering the Storm, Is this the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?, it was clear that regulatory drivers such as MS4 permit requirements, CSOs and Consent Decrees, as well as storm events, can provide the impetus for creating a stormwater utility and/or a formal funding source.

This seminar brought professionals together to discuss the “state of the industry,” current challenges, and lessons learned from an EPA-regulatory perspective and a mix of new and established stormwater organizations, including
one created to address deficiencies exposed by a 100-year storm event.

There were a number of consistent messages about the need for stormwater utilities, related steps for development, and potential utility benefits.

  • When considering formation of a utility or implementation of a fee, know the legal landscape. Is there enabling legislation granting local authority to charge a fee for service?
  • Regulatory requirements drive capital and operational initiatives. These initiatives translate into formal programs reflecting level of service considerations and resulting financial needs. Without exception, the economic implications – tax or rate increases – are paramount and in the end, community values and political realities determine the acceptable level of service and acceptable taxation levels or user fees.
  • In many communities, stormwater needs compete for funding right alongside other government activities such as police and fire and in this competition, stormwater often comes up short. Shifting from taxes to a dedicated user fee produces a reliable revenue stream and “frees up” general government revenues for other purposes.
  • Examples of both successful (meaning 2-way, early and often dialogue) and failed public input efforts (the “rain tax” phenomenon) provided evidence of the importance of engaging your public.

Are you considering forming a stormwater utility or have you had challenges along the way? Know your legal authority, know your public and let them get to know you. Be prepared to address the affordability argument and political realities that the technically “right” level of service may not be the acceptable one. And if you have comments or questions, please post them here.

 

Related Resources:

See WEF's Stormwater & Wet Weather Knowledge Center for more information.

 

 06/02/2010Permanent link

Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?  ()
 

Posted June 2, 2010

At the WEF-sponsored seminar titled: Weathering the Storm, Is this the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?, it was clear that regulatory drivers such as MS4 permit requirements, CSOs and Consent Decrees, as well as storm events, can provide the impetus for creating a stormwater utility and/or a formal funding source.

Comments (4)


A storm water utility is very essential I think. Legal authorities and public should know everything related to this.

Posted by: Foreclosure Fraud (kevinjones8110@yahoo.com) on 09/25/2011

I am working on a thesis about this all now a days. I will come back with many suggestions.

Posted by: Foreclosure Fraud (kevinjones8110@yahoo.com) on 09/25/2011

Just want to express how much I enjoy how data are well presented and up-to-date. And this particular post confirms the high degree of quality of your information.

Posted by: Joye Buchbinder (Livsey18@gmail.com) on 09/28/2011

Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems? A few of my blog readers have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any tips to help fix this issue?

Posted by: Dried Fruits and Nuts (rytcindy@yahoo.com) on 10/21/2011

Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?

 Permanent link

Is This the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?

Posted June 2, 2010 

By Rick Giardina, CPA, WEF Utility Management Committee, Vice President, Red Oak Consulting, a division of Malcolm Pirnie

WeatherThumb.jpgAt the WEF-sponsored seminar titled: Weathering the Storm, Is this the Right Time for You to Form a Stormwater Utility?, it was clear that regulatory drivers such as MS4 permit requirements, CSOs and Consent Decrees, as well as storm events, can provide the impetus for creating a stormwater utility and/or a formal funding source.

This seminar brought professionals together to discuss the “state of the industry,” current challenges, and lessons learned from an EPA-regulatory perspective and a mix of new and established stormwater organizations, including
one created to address deficiencies exposed by a 100-year storm event.

There were a number of consistent messages about the need for stormwater utilities, related steps for development, and potential utility benefits.

  • When considering formation of a utility or implementation of a fee, know the legal landscape. Is there enabling legislation granting local authority to charge a fee for service?
  • Regulatory requirements drive capital and operational initiatives. These initiatives translate into formal programs reflecting level of service considerations and resulting financial needs. Without exception, the economic implications – tax or rate increases – are paramount and in the end, community values and political realities determine the acceptable level of service and acceptable taxation levels or user fees.
  • In many communities, stormwater needs compete for funding right alongside other government activities such as police and fire and in this competition, stormwater often comes up short. Shifting from taxes to a dedicated user fee produces a reliable revenue stream and “frees up” general government revenues for other purposes.
  • Examples of both successful (meaning 2-way, early and often dialogue) and failed public input efforts (the “rain tax” phenomenon) provided evidence of the importance of engaging your public.

Are you considering forming a stormwater utility or have you had challenges along the way? Know your legal authority, know your public and let them get to know you. Be prepared to address the affordability argument and political realities that the technically “right” level of service may not be the acceptable one. And if you have comments or questions, please post them here.

 

Related Resources:

See WEF's Stormwater & Wet Weather Knowledge Center for more information.

 

Posted by Julie Fuller at 06/02/2010 08:16:15 AM | 


Comments
A storm water utility is very essential I think. Legal authorities and public should know everything related to this.
Posted by: Foreclosure Fraud ( Email ) at 9/25/2011 5:35 PM


I am working on a thesis about this all now a days. I will come back with many suggestions.
Posted by: Foreclosure Fraud ( Email | Visit ) at 9/25/2011 5:35 PM


Just want to express how much I enjoy how data are well presented and up-to-date. And this particular post confirms the high degree of quality of your information.
Posted by: Joye Buchbinder ( Email | Visit ) at 9/28/2011 7:30 AM


Do you ever run into any browser compatibility problems? A few of my blog readers have complained about my website not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any tips to help fix this issue?
Posted by: Dried Fruits and Nuts ( Email | Visit ) at 10/21/2011 3:50 AM


Giardina170.jpgPosted by:
Rick Giardina, CPA

Rick Giardina, CPA is a Vice President with Red Oak, the consulting division at Malcolm Pirnie. He is Red Oak’s national director of financial services. His extensive managerial and financial experience includes over 300 financial studies serving utilities in both the private and public sector. His 31 years of experience covers technical areas such as utility cost-of-service and rate structure studies, litigation support, economic feasibility analyses, privatization feasibility and implementation studies, impact fee studies, management and operational audits, reviews of policies and procedures and operating practices, mergers and acquisitions, valuation services, and rate filing and reporting.

Rick is a member of the WEF Utility Management Committee and for the last five years served as the WEF representative to the Utility Management Conference including two terms as the Conference co-chair. In addition to being a contributing author to the Water Environment Federation Finances and Charges Manual, he also chaired the preparation of the first edition of the AWWA Small System Rate Manual and an update of the Water Utility Capital Financing Manual. He is currently chairing the re-write of AWWA M1 – Principles of Water Rates, Fees, and Charges.


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