Average stormwater fee announced at town hall

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com

The average residential bill for stormwater management in the Borough of Greencastle will be $252.62 a year, Borough Manager Eden Ratliff announced at a town hall meeting Thursday morning, April 11.

No other information about what the impervious area of an average property is or what costs businesses are facing was available. Ratliff said more specifics will be released in May. The first bills are expected to go out at the end of June.

"We mapped impervious areas and everyone's bill is different," Ratliff told the two borough residents who attended the first in the series of town halls. "We're imposing the fee in the most equitable way possible."

The impervious area of each property was calculated based on where water runs off instead of sinking in, including roofs, driveways and nonpublic sidewalks.

The borough needs to raise $780,000 a year — beginning this year — to comply with federal Chesapeake Bay cleanup mandates and deal with other stormwater issues in the borough, both overseen by a newly created stormwater utility. A stream bank restoration project to comply with the borough's five-year MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) permit which expires in 2023 is earmarked at $1 million, while work to ease flooding in the Orchard area has a projected debt service of $65,568 a year for 10 years.

Ratliff and Lorraine Hohl, assistant borough manager, conducted the town hall which featured interaction with the two residents in attendance, Karin Johnson and Jim Golden.

"Mandates come down for a reason," Johnson said. "They're helping us clean up our environment."

"Yes, the oyster harvest in the Bay is improving," Ratliff noted.

"I'm happy to do my little part, and I don't even eat oysters," Johnson said.

After an overview by Ratliff, Johnson asked about the appeals process concerning a property's impervious area calculation and measures residents can take to reduce their runoff.

Stormwater management is new to the borough and the appeals process is still being developed, according to Ratliff, who said it should be in place by June.

There will also be a credit program and best practices are encouraged, but the borough still needs to raise money, Ratliff said.

Hohl said brochures now available in borough hall show things residents can do. That includes tearing down unused sheds and replacing them with grass; removing unwanted rock or lawn decorations; and purchasing rain barrels with purifying vegetation.

The brochure also includes the sections: Why a utility?; Impervious vs. pervious; Is this achievable?; and What is MS4 and how it affects our town.