Council adds resolution to action on storm water

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com

A resolution approved by Greencastle Borough Council Monday evening ensures Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.'s signature on an ordinance creating a storm water management utility, which will administer a new fee being billed for the first time at the end of June.

The fee is intended to generate $630,000 a year and was approved at a special meeting last week. It will be used to meet sediment reduction requirements under Chesapeake Bay cleanup measures and the borough's MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) permit; other stormwater projects in the borough; and administration.

Thomas wanted the ordinance to make it clear the action is being taken in response to an unfunded federal mandate and had to decide whether to sign it, let it go through unsigned or veto it. Although council did not include that information in the ordinance passed last week, it was part of Monday's resolution. The mayor also suggests borrowing money and amortizing payments over the life of storm water capital improvement projects rather than a fee, noting that government loans have lower interest rates and are tax-free.

The resolution also asks state and federal officials to seek grant funding to help Greencastle pay for MS4 and Chesapeake Bay goals and creates a community task force to "proactively" research funds.

Thomas encouraged residents and business owners to write letters to Pennsylvania and federal officials concerning "funding to bring our fees into sustainable amounts."

He cited the large grant that helped fund a project 15 years ago that ran from South Allison Street to U.S. 11, where it alleviated flooding at the railroad underpass.

 Talking about the fee 

Borough officials have been working for more than a year to set up a plan and fee for this five-year MS4 permit period, which runs through 2023, and continue to meet future requirements, which have not yet been announced.

The fee is based on the impervious area of each property in the borough. The average residential fee is $172 a year. The Greencastle-Antrim School District has the largest impervious area, including roofs and parking lots, and is looking at around $47,000 a year.

Local property owner Bill Little said Monday night the fee is going to hurt and possible bankrupt some small businesses and property owners.

Charles Eckstine, who lives and owns commercial property in the borough, agreed the fee will cause "a lot of pain for small businesses and those on fixed incomes."

He also questioned whether council's action last week was even legal under the borough code since the meeting was held in the meeting room at the Rescue Hose Co. on South Washington Street in Antrim Township.

Steve Miller, council president, said the location had been cleared with the borough solicitor months ago, when council met at the fire hall while borough hall was being renovated.

The borough code does not limit the location of a meeting to the corporate limits of the borough, according to Eden Ratliff, borough manager. However, prior public notice of where the meeting is being held is required.

More information about the stormwater pollutant impact fee, including what it is for each property, is online at the borough's website: