Hillsborough County is considering an increase to the annual Stormwater Utility Assessment (Stormwater Fee) that is paid by all property owners in the unincorporated area of the county. This proposed increase would not impact owners of property that is in the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace, or Plant City. The Stormwater Fee provides money for the County’s Stormwater Program, which includes the maintenance, rehabilitation, and construction of the public stormwater pipes, pumps, storage systems, and other structures to help reduce roadway flooding and improve overall water quality.
What is stormwater?
Stormwater is the runoff from rain, which is ordinarily absorbed by plants and soils, but hard surfaces such as pavement, driveways, pool decks, and building roofs, can prevent this runoff from being properly absorbed into the ground. This kind of excess runoff is bad for our community and the environment. Stormwater can pick up all sorts of pollutants before eventually finding its way back to lakes, streams, rivers, and bays. Stormwater can also cause high water flow during heavy rainfalls, which can result in flooding on roads and properties.
What is the storm drainage system?
A storm drainage system is a network of constructed inlets, underground pipes, ditches, drainage channels, and other structures that carry and temporarily hold stormwater before it ends up in streams and waterways. The network consists of both public and private systems.
Water runoff does not follow neighborhood boundaries. Stormwater must be managed for the common good across the whole community. The County's responsibility and challenge is to repair and maintain existing public stormwater facilities and address the long list of needed capital improvement projects.
Why is there a stormwater assessment? We already pay taxes; why do we need a separate assessment?
Hillsborough County is bound by law to proactively keep stormwater pollution from entering creeks, streams, rivers, and bays, as well as clean up those waterways within County limits. Historically, the stormwater program has been funded partially by an annual Stormwater Management Assessment and partially by the general Ad Valorem Property Tax. Without a single dedicated source of funding for the entire program, meeting these important community needs will continue to compete for funding with public safety and other critical local government services.
Why can’t we just keep the existing level of funding to maintain the stormwater system?
Just like failing to spend a little to fix your car brakes now leads to more costly repairs later, not adequately funding the long-term maintenance and operation of stormwater systems leads to more expensive emergency repairs and solutions to flooding that could have been avoided. Without a sustainable level of funding, the County will continue to spend more to fix unexpected problems instead of wisely investing in preventative maintenance and improvements to help avoid stormwater system failures.
The proposed assessment structure and fees were recommended by a comprehensive study to determine a sustainable level of annual funding for the programs. The proposed plan was presented to the Board of County Commissioner during workshops and presentations:
- July 2019 Stormwater Management Program Business Plan and Rate Study
- June 2019 BOCC Presentation (project details and three year phase-in plan)
- May 2019 BOCC Presentation (rate study results and sustainable funding levels)
What is an impervious surface?
Impervious surfaces are areas of a property that are covered by buildings, driveways, parking areas, and other hard surfaces that prevent runoff from being absorbed into the soil.
How were the building footprints calculated?
Building footprints were determined by using the building Total Gross Area for each property, as recorded by the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser.
How is the billing for the 2019 stormwater assessment different than in the past?
The new proposed assessment structure more equitably separates most residential properties into tiers based on different sizes of impervious area (roofed, paved, or similar surface). Based on the impact to the stormwater system, properties with less impervious area pay less and properties with more impervious area pay more.
- Most single-family residential properties are placed into a tier based on their total gross area building footprint, provided by the Property Appraiser. This approach avoids having to individually calculate the impervious area for more than 220,000 residential properties, which would be impractical.
- Properties with exceptionally small building footprint areas, such as condominium units, townhomes, and mobile homes are billed flat rates.
- Non-residential properties and very large single-family properties are billed per square foot of impervious area.
2019 Proposed Assessment Structure and Cost
A new proposed assessment structure will utilize an “Equivalent Residential Unit”, or ERU, as the basis for most assessments. The average single-family residence in the County includes 4,267 square feet of impervious surface (roofed, paved, or similar surface), which equals one ERU.
The 2019 proposed assessment for one ERU is $92.41
Assessments for specific parcels are based on either an assigned ERU or the actual impervious square footage, as shown in the chart below:
|Property Classification||Building Footprint (total gross area in square feet)||Assigned ERU||2019 Annual Stormwater Assessment|
|100 - 1,500||0.55 per dwelling unit||$50.83|
|1,501 - 3,200||1.00 per dwelling unit||$92.41|
|3,201 - 5,700||1.53 per dwelling unit||$141.39|
|> 5,700||Actual Impervious Area||$0.0217 per square foot (1)|
Apt., Condo, Townhome, Co-op
|Flat Rate||0.33 per dwelling unit||$30.50|
|Mobile Home Park or RV Park||Flat Rate||0.33 per space||$30.50|
|Non-Residential||Actual Impervious Area||Actual Impervious Area||$0.0217 per square foot (2)|
|(1) Minimum assessment of $141.39 per parcel
(2) Minimum assessment of $92.41 per parcel
When is the hearing to adopt the fee?
A public hearing to consider this increase is scheduled for September 5, 2019, at 10 AM in the 2nd floor Board Room at Fredrick B. Karl County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa. All affected property owners have the right to appear at the public hearing and the right to file written objections through September 5, 2019. Written objections can be submitted by mail to Stormwater Management Assessment Objections, Stormwater Management, Hillsborough County, P.O. Box 1110, Tampa, FL, 33601; or in person to the 22nd floor at the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa.
Who can I call to discuss this increase?
Questions regarding the proposed assessment can be addressed with Hillsborough County Public Works at (813) 635-5400.