C-1108-20 - 2020 Fees and Charges Bylaw Amendment - Third Reading - Frostad
This topic relates to all three of the City’s strategic vision elements contained in Council’s Strategic Plan
Request for Decision Summary
Third reading of Bylaw C-1108-20 - 2020 Fees and Charges Bylaw Amendment is being brought forward for Council's consideration. The proposed amendment to the 2020 Fees and Charges Bylaw will set stormwater utility fees for 2020.
That third reading be given to Bylaw C-1108-20 - 2020 Fees and Charges Bylaw Amendment, as amended.
The growth of Spruce Grove has included the addition of many stormwater facilities and networks. The City currently operates over 50 stormwater management facilities (SWMF), 129 km of pipe, and 2160 catch basins all assisting with the stormwater drainage within the City. The total value of our assets is roughly $79 million and planned capital work required to support our stormwater network is estimated at $37 million over the next ten years.
To address funding shortfalls, a stormwater utility rate model was proposed that would identify rates that would be used to fund the required work associated with the stormwater facilities and networks. In the 2019 – 2021 Corporate Plan, Council approved a stormwater utility rate study and the inclusion of stormwater utility revenue in the 2019 and 2020 budgets and going forward. The study was completed by Corvus Business Advisors in 2019, and rates have been proposed in this amending bylaw.
Monthly rates are proposed to be $7.30 for small customers and $37.20 for large customers. The stormwater utility fee is proposed to take effect October 1, 2020 and would first appear on the utility bill issued at the beginning of October, 2020. The City shall bill property owners a stormwater utility fee using a utility bill that includes the billing for stormwater utility fees with the charges for other utilities supplied to the property owner. Where a property is tenant occupied, the property owner will receive a separate utility bill for the stormwater utility fee.
First reading was given to this bylaw on February 24, 2020. Second reading was given March 9, 2020. Administration was requested to meet with and analyze the concerns raised by Grove Senior's Village in relation to their treatment under this bylaw. That meeting has taken place and administration is now requesting third reading of the bylaw with appropriate changes to allow properties that meet a defined set of criteria to be considered a single Large Customer versus receiving multiple separate Small Customer billings.
This bylaw was amended in consultation with the following departments: Finance, Public Works, Engineering, Communications and the City Clerk's Office.
After second reading of the bylaw, administration had a conversation with representatives from Grove Senior's Village in relation to their concerns about the Storm Management Rate implementation. Grove Seniors Village is a unique property within the community that has 81 separate meters all under the title of one entity. This village is essentially a government backed affordable housing co-operative for seniors that falls under the same tax status as exempt senior's lodges within the community. The other exempt seniors lodges are being treated as Large Customers for the purposes of this bylaw. Grove Seniors Village does have a storm water facility within their property that they maintain at their own cost. Initially comments were made from the customer that they would seek to re-meter their property to avoid this charge. Upon discussion it was clear that such an option would not be ideal to address the issue at hand. Grove Senior's Village requested to be treated as a Large Customer for the purposes of this bylaw and cited that they felt they were being treated unfairly by being billed 81 individual charges per month ($591.30) when a single large customer such as a large commercial conglomerate would pay $37.20 per month.
Administration evaluated whether there were like circumstances within the community and found there were some residential parcels that did have multiple meters with one tax roll but they were for-profit ventures, standard individual housing units and did not have their own storm facility. They were receiving like treatment to other residential properties of that nature. There were also some cases of single title non-residential parcels with multiple meters but they had a mix of customer sizes within the properties and catered to individual for-profit uses.
Upon this evaluation and discussion, administration recommends that an exception be created for small customers with multiple meters who meet all of the following criteria:
Not for profit;
Deliver affordable housing;
Occupy a single parcel of land; and
Contain a private storm network that provides storage on the property prior to entering the City's storm network.
The definitions of Small Customer and Large Customer within this bylaw have therefore been amended to allow for this type of exception.
The City's website includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in regards to the stormwater network and the stormwater utility fee.
A stormwater utility fee represents a more dedicated, sustainable funding mechanism than property taxes, since rates are assessed to each parcel of land based on how much storm water runoff they contribute rather than on property value. All properties with a utility account will contribute. This will include those tax exempt properties (non-profits, institutional facilities) which can impose significant demands on storm water systems but were not contributing financially to storm water management under the general property tax system.
If the City continues to fund its stormwater management program via property taxes it is estimated that an infrastructure deficit of approximately $40 million will be created over the next 10 years.