Council continues to work on stormwater fee refunds

Shawn Hardy

Greencastle Borough Council is continuing to dial in on refunding part of the stormwater management fee paid by property owners.

At a work session Tuesday, council members indicated they favor giving back some of the money collected, minus operational expenses for the stormwater utility, via checks. The fee, currently on hold, may return in the fourth quarter at a much lower rate.

Decisions about the fee and refunds are expected to be made at the regular council meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, July 6, in borough hall.

The stormwater fee was enacted and the stormwater utility, funded by the fee, was created in 2019. Much of the fee was earmarked for work to meet MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) sediment reduction requirements. However, the borough has received a five-year waiver from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for Chesapeake Bay MS4 cleanup mandates.

Work and staffing beyond MS4 related to the borough's stormwater system, such as inlet replacement and the installation of a rain garden at the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library, also was transferred from under the general fund to the stormwater utility fund.

Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. was among those who think the working budget for the stormwater utility is too high at $215,000, including $125,000 for salaries and benefits.

He also suggested the rain garden project be done in-house by the borough, with help from Antrim Township and the community. He noted state prevailing wage rules will drive up the price tag if the project is put out for bids. The borough has received a $50,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for the project, which is estimated at $110,000.

 The numbers 

With current numbers, the borough is looking to refund $356,000 of the $630,000 that's been paid so far into the stormwater fund. There are is a lot of time involved in writing 2,000 refund checks so when property owners will get their money back is not clear.

Next week, council will tighten up on what the new fee will be, according to President Steve Miller.

The old fee was $5.36 for each 100 square feet of impervious area on a property. Impervious area includes roofs, sidewalks and driveways that create stormwater runoff. The possible reduced fee mentioned by Lorraine Hohl, borough manager, is $1.83 per 100 square feet of impervious area.

Miller gave some approximate examples of what that would mean for a sampling of properties with large impervious areas. The Greencastle-Antrim School District's fee would go from $47,000 a year to $16,000; Contech Engineered Solutions' fee would go from $33,000 to $11,000; Precision Manufacturing and Engineering's fee would go from $14,000 to $4,800; and the Little League's fee would go from $4,300 to $1,400.