Stormwater User Fee
In late 2018, Public Works identified the need to make extensive improvements to the stormwater system because it is beginning to fail. The Department recommended overcoming this challenge by proposing a fee structure that meets funding needs and is fairer for rate payers.
Since then, Public Works has engaged both the Board of County Commissioners and the community to find a solution that meets the stormwater system's needs and is acceptable to rate payers. On November 3, 2022, the Board of County Commissioners adopted an individually calculated rate transition based on the amount of hard surface a property has. The rate will go into effect on January 1, 2024.
Explore the information below to learn more, and be sure to check back during 2023 for updates.
What is Stormwater?
When water falls to the earth as rain, snow or ice, most of it seeps into the ground. If the ground is frozen or saturated with water, the excess water flows over land creating stormwater runoff.
Also, rain and melted snow and ice on hard surfaces, as well as roads, buildings, parking lots, and sidewalks, has nowhere to go except flow downhill to a street, storm drain, or nearby creek.
Stormwater runoff is directed into storm drains that flow directly into local streams, rivers, and lakes carrying pollutants from the ground and hard surfaces. These pollutants include oil and grease, fertilizers, pesticides, pet waste, trash, and soil. The pollutants degrade the water quality and are harmful to wildlife.
Stormwater runoff also threatens private property, businesses, and streets.
What is Stormwater Management?
Stormwater Management is the protection of private property, commerce, roads, and the environment.
This is accomplished through the maintenance, renewal, and improvement of stormwater infrastructure.
In Kansas City, Kansas, Public Works is responsible for:
- More than 400 miles of stormwater pipe
- More than 10,000 stormwater structures, and
- More than 120 miles of open channel drainage
The City also has more than 600 miles of ditches.
All of this infrastructure is meant to protect life, property, commerce, streets, and the environment. Infrastructure systems of this magnitude must be constantly and vigilantly maintained, and all of that infrastructure has a finite life.
To ensure stormwater is properly managed, infrastructure needs are supported by a utility fee similar to water and electric utility fees. This is called the stormwater user fee.
What is the Stormwater User Fee?
Similar to other utility fees like water, electricity, and wastewater, many communities also have a utility fee designed to manage the rainwater that occurs from storms. This fee supports the maintenance, renewal, and improvement of the stormwater system's various assets like pipes, inlets, bridge culverts, and open channels.
Right now, residential properties in Kansas City, Kansas pay $6.00 per month and non-residential properties pay $14.00.
In January 2024, the stormwater user fee will transition to a model based on the amount of hard surface a property has.
What is Hard (Impervious) Surface?
In late 2018, Public Works identified the need to make extensive improvements to the stormwater system because it is failing and the Department recommended overcoming this by proposing a fee structure that meets funding needs and is fairer for rate payers by basing the user fee on an individual property’s use of the stormwater system.
The Proposed user fee was based on the amount of hard surface a property has. Hard, or impervious surface, is any surface that does not allow rainwater to absorb naturally into the ground. If rainwater is not absorbed naturally into the ground, it becomes the stormwater that runs off a property and must be managed by the stormwater system. The more hard surface a property has, the more stormwater runoff it generates, and the more demand it places on the stormwater system.
Basing the user fee on the amount of hard surface a property has helps make the substantial cost of maintaining, renewing, and improving the stormwater system a little fairer for rate payers.
How much is the Stormwater User Fee?
On November 3, 2022, the Board of County Commissioners adopted an individually calculated stormwater rate model based on the amount of hard surface a particular property has.
Under the individually calculated model, all properties pay a rate per 500 ft2, plus a monthly base charge beginning January 1, 2024. The user fee is calculated by dividing the amount of hard surface a property has by 500, multiplying that by the rate per square feet and then adding the monthly base charge.
View the rate schedule image below:
1,200 ft2 Example Property
To calculate the fee for a property with 1,200 ft2 of hard surface, divide 1,200 by 500 to get 2.4. 2.4 is then multiplied by the 2024 Rate Per 500 ft2 of $0.70 to equal $1.68. $1.68 is then added to the 2024 Monthly Base Charge of $4.15. For this property in 2024, the monthly charge is $5.83.
500,000 ft2 Example Property
To calculate the fee for a property with 500,000 ft2 of hard surface, divide 500,000 by 500 to get 1,000. 1,000 is then multiplied by the 2024 Rate Per 500 ft2 of $0.70 to equal $700. $700 is then added to the 2024 Monthly Base Charge of $4.15. For this property in 2024, the monthly charge is $704.15.
How do I Find my Rate?
Public Works is preparing a searchable map to assist property owners with looking up their 2024 monthly stormwater fee. When the map is complete, a link will appear here.
Stormwater Overview & Background Download
Stormwater can be a complicated topic, so the Public Works team felt it would be helpful to produce a Stormwater Overview Document that tells the story of stormwater over the last three years in an accessible, plainly-written way. It does this by answering several common questions:
- What is stormwater?
- What is Stormwater Management?
- What is the Stormwater User Fee?
- Why does the Stormwater User Fee need to be updated?
- What will updating the Stormwater User Fee achieve?
- What will happen if the Stormwater User Fee is not updated?
- What has Public Works done since 2018 to facilitate the update?