Newark continues to plan for monthly stormwater fee
City to pay consultant $213,000 to develop billing procedure
If the city is going to start charging property owners a proposed monthly fee next year to help cover stormwater management costs, officials say they are going to need some help getting the utility up and running.
On Monday, council unanimously voted to hire Black and Veatch Management Consulting, LLC, to assist city staff in coming up with a fee structure, credit program, appeals process and ordinance for council review. If approved, implementation of a stormwater fee would begin in 2018.
Council members Stu Markham and Jen Wallace were absent from Monday’s meeting.
According to Public Works Director Tom Coleman, the work done by Black and Veatch will cost the city $213,380, which is available in the 2017 sewer fund capital improvement budget. He said part of the money is for post-implementation support, including oncall assistance to aid city staff with reviewing credit and appeals applications and providing parcel data process, as well as parcel ID-account mapping support.
Coleman recommended Black and Veatch because Newark hired the firm last year to study the city’s waterrelated rates, including drinking water, sanitary sewer and stormwater. It was also tasked with analyzing a potential stormwater fee, which the city has been considering for a few years as a way to resolve flooding issues around the city. That work, completed last year, cost the city approximately $100,000.
After months of research, Black and Veatch recommended Newark implement a fee based on impervious surface and estimated it will cost residents anywhere from $1.83 to $5.49 each month. The fee will raise $1.4 million a year if implemented in 2018.
The rate for condominiums and non-residential properties would be individually calculated based on average runoff factor for that type of parcel, whether it’s a parking lot, commercial building, industrial site, a park or a cemetery.
No parcel in Newark would be exempt from this charge, including those owned by the University of Delaware. The only exceptions are public streets, medians, public rightof-ways and railroad tracks.
Coleman said Black and Veatch will help the city create a database of impervious surface in the city and finalize a rate structure. In addition, the firm will develop the billing system and a credit program to reduce the fee for residents, businesses and developers who install rain gardens, green roofs and other measures to curb runoff. There will also be an appeals process in place for property owners who believe they were charged unfairly.
“There’s a lot of work left,” Coleman said.
Coleman also anticipates it will cost approximately $15,000 for the city’s billing software vendor Harris Northstar to modify the billing system so the city can start collecting the new stormwater fee. That money, however, is not included in the cost to hire Black and Veatch.
Main Street floods after heavy thunderstorms moved through Newark on June 5. The city is planning to charge residents a stormwater fee to raise money to fix the aging storm sewers.