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Jul 23, 2014
Fishing Clinic

Jul 30, 2014
Fishing Clinic

Aug 04, 2014 6:30 PM
City Council Meeting

Aug 05, 2014 5:00 PM
Night Out Against Crime

Aug 18, 2014 6:30 PM
City Council Meeting

Sep 01, 2014
City Offices Closed - Labor Day Holiday

Sep 02, 2014 6:30 PM
City Council Meeting

Sep 15, 2014 6:30 PM
City Council Meeting

Oct 06, 2014 6:30 PM
City Council Meeting

Oct 20, 2014 6:30 PM
City Council Meeting

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1 What is stormwater?
2 Why does stormwater have to be managed?
3 What is a Stormwater Utility?
4 Why is the Stormwater Utility fee needed?
5 Who pays the Stormwater Utility fee?  Why should churches, schools, and other non-profit organizations be charged a stormwater fee?
6 How is the Stormwater Utility charge calculated?
7 Under the new Stormwater Rate structure, how are properties with multiple renters handled? 
8 What are the current Stormwater Utility Rates?
9 How much will my rates increase?
10 Why a rate increase is required?
11 Can we delay the rate increase?
12 Can we implement a smaller rate increase?
13 Why are the new capital improvements required?
14 How do nearby municipalities handle stormwater charges?
15 How do East Moline's rates compare to other local municipalities?
16 How does a "fee" differ from a "tax"?
17 None of my water goes into the storm drains.  Why do I have to pay a Stormwater Utility Fee?
18 What can non-residential customers do if they think their bill may be calculated incorrectly?
19

I live on the edge of the city and water on my property drains away from streets and public drainage structures.  Why do I have to pay this fee?

1.  What is stormwater?

Stormwater is the runoff that results from precipitation.  Sediment, nutrients, bacteria, metals, pesticides, and other pollutants are picked up as this water flows over construction sites, farm fields, lawns, driveways, parking lots, and streets.  Unlike sanitary sewers that go to a treatment plant, most stormwater is discharged directly to local water bodies.  Increasing amounts of impervious surfaces in urban areas, such as roof tops, driveways, sidewalks, patios, parking lots, and streets, decrease the ability of the water to soak into the ground.  An increased potential for flooding is a risk from greater volumes of runoff entering the city's storm sewer and drainage system at a faster rate. 

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2.  Why does stormwater have to be managed?

Stormwater is managed to protect homes, properties, the environment, streams, and rivers from damage due to flooding, pooling, erosion, and harmful pollutants.  Stormwater runoff must be channeled through a system of pipes, culverts, ditches, swales, catch basins, and storm drains before being safely discharged into local streams and rivers.  Even if your property has never flooded, the stormwater that flows off your property must be managed so that it does not contribute to flooding in areas downstream. 

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3.  What is a Stormwater Utility?

A stormwater utility is a special assessment district set up to generate funding specifically for stormwater management.  The Stormwater Utility accounts for its revenues and expenses separately as a self-supported "Enterprise Fund."  Businesses and residents within the City of East Moline pay a stormwater fee based on the demand that their property places on the stormwater management system.  The revenue collected directly supports maintenance of the existing storm drain systems, development of drainage plans, flood control measures, water quality programs, and funds major capital expenses.

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4.  Why is the Stormwater Utility fee needed?

The City of East Moline has implemented a stormwater fee rather than raise property taxes or cut services in order to meet new, federally-mandated regulations for discharging stormwater and pay for the associated stormwater infrastructure costs.  The stormwater that leaves your property as runoff ultimately drains into a City maintained drainage facility.  A fee is assessed because this runoff contributes to the need for operation and maintenance costs of the stormwater management system to prevent and correct stormwater runoff problems.  Some of the services tied to the stormwater program include:

·         State and Federal regulatory compliance;

·         flood protection through capital improvement projects;

·         improved water quality by reducing pollutants;

·         storm drain cleaning and repair;

·         street sweeping;

·         shoulder and ditch maintenance within the publicly owned right-of-way;

·         public education and outreach;

·         construction inspection;

·         project design and management;

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5.  Who pays the Stormwater Utility fee?  Why should churches, schools, and other non-profit organizations be charged a stormwater fee?

The stormwater utility is a user-fee, much like the fee that you pay for your water or wastewater service.  All property owners that receive drainage services and are within the drainage service area must share in the cost of the stormwater program. This includes residential homeowners, non-profit entities such as churches, schools and institutions, and commercial and industrial properties.  The charge is not imposed on undeveloped property because such property does not contain impervious surface that has replaced natural ground cover, causing or increasing excessive runoff into the City's stormwater facilities.  Even if your property does not drain into the public drainage system, runoff from your property may contribute to the level of nutrients in stormwater runoff. 

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6.  How is the Stormwater Utility charge calculated? 

Currently, a stormwater fee is collected through a uniform volume rate structure based on amount of metered water usage.  This approach simplified billing.  However, potable water usage is completely unrelated to the issue of stormwater runoff.

A more fair and equitable basis for calculating stormwater charges is the amount of a property's impervious area which can be measured and has a direct and accepted relationship to the estimated amount of water that leaves a property as stormwater runoff.  A property's impervious area is the most significant factor affecting both stormwater quality and quantity because stormwater cannot be absorbed by these surfaces and must be managed through some sort of stormwater system. 

A unit of impervious surface area on an average single family, residential property, or "equivalent residential unit" (ERU), is the quantity used for assessing the new stormwater charges.  The size of one ERU was determined by averaging the impervious surface areas existing on a representative sample of single-family properties around the city.  The value of one ERU in City of East Moline is set at 2,200 square feet of impervious area.  The unit rate for one ERU was calculated by dividing the total stormwater related costs by the total number of ERUs to be assessed.

The amount of stormwater runoff and pollutant loading is similar for residential developments of similar sizes and determining the amount of impervious area for each residential property would be excessively and unnecessarily expensive.  Single family residential and agricultural properties are assigned to one of three tiers based on the parcel's gross square footage.  The three tiers include less than ¼ acre, between ¼ and ½ acre, and between ½ acre and 2 acres with incrementally increasing rates for each bracket.  Properties with less impervious area will generally be charged less with this equitable approach. 

Stormwater charges for all other developed properties are based on the measured amount of impervious area on their property.  Developed property is defined as property that has been altered from its natural state by the addition of impervious area.  Other properties include residential and agricultural properties larger than 2 acres, commercial, industrial, and institutional properties, such as City, county and state properties, schools, churches, and other non-profit organizations.  Public roadways and highways are considered part of the stormwater conveyance system and do not pay stormwater fees.

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7.  Under the new Stormwater Rate structure, how are properties with multiple renters handled? 

For properties with multiple renters or businesses, the property owner will be charged a stormwater fee based on the measured amount of impervious area.  The property owner may choose to pass the fee onto renters in the form of higher payments but ultimate responsibility for payment remains with the owner.

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8. What are the current Stormwater Utility Rates?

Currently, the Stormwater Utility uses a uniform volume rate structure based on the amount of metered water usage.  The rate structure includes a volume charge of $0.163 per cubic foot of metered water usage plus a $2.00 surcharge per bill.  The monthly bill for a residential customer using a minimum 200 cubic feet of water every month, or 50 gallons per day, results in a charge of $2.33.     

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9.  How much will my rates increase?

The resulting stormwater rate impact for a residential customer that pays the minimum Water Utility bill is a decrease in their monthly bill from $2.33 to $2.32.  The current bill is based on a minimum water usage of 200 cubic feet every month, or 50 gallons of water per day.

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10.  Why a rate increase is required?

To eliminate deficit spending caused by increased stormwater management demands, inflation, and cost-of-living increases.

To cover debt service required for capital improvement projects.

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11.  Can we delay the rate increase?

The current rating of the levee system by the Corps of Engineers is "Minimally Acceptable".  Repairs must be made to prevent further deterioration and risk of losing eligibility for federal repair assistance during flood events.

The City has postponed the rate increase as long as possible.  Many of the capital improvements are required to replace infrastructure that has reached the end of its useful life. 

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12. Can we implement a smaller rate increase?

The recommended rates provide the revenue required to cover the projected 2010 operations and capital improvement budget.  Revenue generated with a smaller rate increase would fall short of covering expenses.

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13.  Why are the new capital improvements required?

The Stormwater Utility improvements are required for many reasons, including:

o   The current rating by the Corps of Engineers for the levee system is "Minimally Acceptable".  If the repairs are not corrected, East Moline risks losing eligibility for federal repair assistance during flood events. 

o   Improvements are required due to deterioration of ravine structures caused by erosion. 

o   Dredging is required to improve flow paths in ditches and ponding areas.

o   Repair or replacement of collapsing and/or aging culverts, storm sewers, inlets, detention facilities, check dams, and control structures. 

In addition to capital improvement impacts, the city also faces compliance with newly mandated and unfundedFederal and State regulations regarding the amount and quality of stormwater.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) Phase II of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program requires communities to develop, implement, and enforce a stormwater program.  The intent of the program is to reduce discharge of pollutants from the storm sewer system, protect all tributaries, and improve water quality.  Additional personnel will be required to administer and inspect elements relating to reporting and enforcement of a soon-to-be implemented Stormwater and Erosion Control Ordinance to ensure the City's compliance with these regulations.

Total of $14.4 million in projected improvements include:

o   $1.8 million for the flood protection levee system improvements;

o   $12.4 million for a multi-year Drainage Capital Improvements plan to replace storm sewers and repair ravine structure.

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14.  How do nearby municipalities handle stormwater charges?

The City of Moline uses three brackets for residential rates based on lot size.  The brackets include less than ¼ acre, between ¼ and ½ acre, and between ½ acre and 2 acres with incrementally increasing rates for each bracket.  Rates for commercial and industrial properties are calculated by factoring impervious and non-impervious areas. 

The City of Rock Island calculates rates from measurements taken from aerial photography.  All residential customer charges are based on parcel size and are split into three tiers.  All other properties were based on impervious area. 

Davenport and Bettendorf also use an "ERU" system (Davenport = Equivalent Residential Unit, Bettendorf = Equivalent Runoff Unit) and have measured the amount of impervious area for multi-family residential and non-residential properties.

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15. How do East Moline's rates compare to other local municipalities?

East Moline current rates are based on a residential customer using a minimum 200 cubic feet of water every month, or 50 gallons per day. 

  Current

Proposed
(1)

Current
(1)

East Moline $2.33 $2.32  
Moline     $1.95
Rock Island     $3.72
Bettendorf     $2.00
Davenport     $1.60
 (1) Unit stormwater rate for 1 ERU
The comparison of rates is worst case condition since the comparison is between East Moline's future rates and other communities' current rates.  Moline and Rock Island must also make utility system improvements to comply with regulations which will result in future increase to their rates.

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16.   How does a "fee" differ from a "tax"?

Revenue collected is all dollars paid, but there are some differences between a fee and a tax. 

User equity – Fees are more proportional and give users more control.  With fees, larger users pay more, and smaller users pay less.  Users can also change how much they are charged by taking steps to manage their own runoff.

Dedicated funding – Fee income is segregated, and a stormwater fee can only be used for stormwater related costs.  Tax dollars are available for almost any use, and competition for tax dollars usually results in infrastructure being under-funded. 

Tax exempt property – Many properties in East Moline are granted tax exempt status, such as property owned by the City, County, School District, and churches.  Many of the tax exempt properties have large amounts of impervious area.  More burden would be placed on residents and local businesses if revenue is provided by property taxes.  A fee is charged to all users with developed property.

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17.  None of my water goes into the storm drains.  Why do I have to pay a Stormwater Utility Fee?

Eventually all basins drain to the Mississippi River and Rock River, even if it is only the rainwater caught in your or your neighbor's backyard or ravine.  Your property is also likely to generate runoff in a "severe" rain storm, even if the ground absorbs it during "normal" events.  In any event, you always benefit from adequate, properly-functioning drainage and flood control systems which decrease the likelihood of flooding, erosion, and unlimited pollutants from surface and stormwater runoff.  You also benefit from the regulation and monitoring of the properties above and around you. Finally, efforts to monitor and protect the river provide benefits to everyone.

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18.  What can non-residential customers do if they think their bill may be calculated incorrectly?

If a property owner believes that the area of impervious surface has been calculated incorrectly or has changed since the aerial photography was produced, the owner can arrange for a survey company to measure the impervious surfaces at the expense of the property owner.  The survey information should be given to the City to review and determine if an inaccuracy in the billing has occurred and, if so, to adjust the bill accordingly.

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19. I live on the edge of the city and water on my property drains away from streets and public drainage structures.  Why do I have to pay this fee?

Everyone in the city benefits from the stormwater management program.  Although your property does not drain to the city drainage system, your property does receive direct benefits include protecting your property from upstream runoff.

All property owners receive indirect benefits from a properly maintained and operated stormwater management system for the entire city which is on public property.  Stormwater management activities with broad benefits include keeping the public streets drained and cleared so random flooding does not occur and travel is safe, making necessary stormwater infrastructure upgrades, reducing erosion and other pollutants that enter streams and rivers, and collecting and conveying stormwater safely through all parts of the city. 

A portion of the revenue also provides for compliance with federal, state, and local regulations for water quality improvements.

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