Stormwater costs set at $780K a year

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com

Greencastle Borough Council approved a stormwater management budget Monday night and by the May 6 meeting it will be calculated how much each borough property owner will pay to support it.

The creation of a stormwater utility and a budget for it is the latest step as the borough looks to comply with federal water cleanup mandates as well as other water issues in the borough. The budget approved Monday needs revenues of $780,000 a year.

The bulk of the money will go to fulfill the requirements of the borough's MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) permit. The borough must reduce the amount of sediment it sends to the Chesapeake Bay and a joint stream bank restoration project with Antrim Township is the most cost effective way to do that. The budget presented Monday by Borough Manager Eden Ratliff includes just over $1 million for a stream project under the current five-year permit which runs through 2023, as well as $1.4 million for the next five-year cycle.

The budget also includes a project to alleviate flooding in the Orchard area, with $65,568 earmarked for debt service annually over a 10-year period.

The $780,000 figure will be used to calculate what each property owner will be charged based on mapping of every parcel in the borough and its impervious area presented at the March meeting by Steve Miller, council president. Impervious area includes driveways, roofs, sidewalks and other places where water runs off rather than soaking into the ground.

To raise money needed for the projects and other costs of the stormwater utility, the borough will need to begin collecting the fee this year, giving residents only six months to pay their share in 2019 as opposed to a full year.

Council has been talking about the cost of MS4 for about a year, but many people "do not know what is going on, they are in the dark," said resident Tim Fetterhoff.

He regularly attends council meetings so he is aware of the proposed fee, but said he talks to people who know nothing about it.

One component of MS4 is public education and town hall meetings on the topic are planned in April, May and June, borough representatives are willing to talk to groups and organizations and information will be on the borough's website, which is being upgraded.