Local residents closer to seeing storm water management fees
Antrim Township and the Borough of Greencastle are getting closer to establishing storm water management fees to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to meet federal water cleanup requirements.
Because of their location, they are among the municipalities in a swath through the center of Franklin County dealing with MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) requirements put in place by the EPA to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Also affected are the Borough of Chambersburg and Greene, Guilford, Hamilton, Letterkenny and St. Thomas townships
Antrim Township is looking at $2,790,000 and the Borough of Greencastle is anticipating $861,00 through the end of the five-year MS4 permit cycle in 2023.
A presentation on proposed fees is planned at the Antrim Township supervisors meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, and the storm water management fee calculation report — including the equivalent residential unit (ERU) established for each property — can be viewed under the storm water management tab on the township website:
"All interested parties should attend to see what the fee encompasses," said Sylvia House, township zoning and code enforcement officer, who has been at the forefront of MS4 implementation. Among the township costs associated with MS4 is the new position of storm water technician and assistant code enforcement officer and Amber Naugle came on board in that post in November.
An ERU is the measurement of how much impervious area there is on a property, where water runs off and does not sink in, such as houses, other buildings, driveways, patios and parking lots.
The website includes a property-by-property ERU breakdown compiled by the engineering firm Dewberry. Dewberry collected information on the impervious area then came up with the dollar figure to cover all expenses associated with the program, House said.
Most homes are listed at 1 ERU, but large commercial tracts are in double and triple digits for ERUs.
The proposed storm water management fee is $42.77 per year per ERU or $128.31 for the three-year cycle.
The proposal also includes a credit program to offset ERUs, such as increasing storm water management on larger properties; adding controls like rain gardens or amended soils to improve drainage on smaller properties; and participating in township storm water management events.
"This is the first time supervisors will have seen it, so we don't even know if that's how they want to proceed," House said. However, if supervisors do move forward with the plan as presented, it could be adopted by the end of March, but there is no timetable for when the fee will start.
The breakdown of projected MS4 expenses for this permit cycle is:
Stream restoration construction, operation and maintenance: $1,920,00
Survey, design, permitting, bidding and other project costs: $452,000
Costs incurred in meeting other control measures such as meetings, public outreach and education: $418,000
Borough of Greencastle
The Borough of Greencastle is looking to join forces with Antrim Township for a stream restoration project, coupled with storm water management in the area of Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library, to meet MS4 requirements. Those two projects are expected to total $861,000, Borough Manager Eden Ratliff told council members in November.
Specific fees were presented last fall, but the borough went back to the drawing board after Antrim Township agreed to postponed the stream restoration project a year.
The borough is moving closer to setting the fees and establishing a storm sewer utility to oversee the system.
"We're trying to develop a fee schedule to support the storm water fund," Ratliff said earlier this month. Like in the township, this includes mapping impervious areas.
"We will want input on the fee and how best to support this unfunded federal mandate," Ratliff said.
Greencastle-Antrim School District officials are already worried about MS4 and its financial impact for years to come.
Of immediate concern is if the fee is imposed in the next fee months in the school district's current fiscal year, when it will be an unbudgeted expense.
"We're talking thousands of dollars," Dr. Kendra Trail, superintendent said at a recent school board meeting.