Residents and businesses in unincorporated areas in Lucas County, such as Jerusalem Township, will see a change on their property tax bills next month.
Under Lucas County’s new storm water utility district, residential property owners will be charged a flat rate of $4.06 per month or $24.36 per tax bill, while non-residential customers within the unincorporated portions of the county will be charged $4.06 per month or $24.36 per tax bill for every 5,500 square feet of hard surface area on their property.
The fees for residential and non-residential customers are based on the amount of hard surfaces, such as driveways and roofs, found on their properties. Hard surfaces prevent water from being absorbed into the ground, create more runoff and increase the rate at which water drains from an area. It is considered the legal standard for measuring storm water charges.
The new fees are set for two years and will first appear on the January tax bill, then on each semi-annual property tax bill afterwards.
The goal of the district is reducing flooding, improving the drainage of storm water, improving the water quality of local rivers and streams, and to begin to upgrade the storm water infrastructure in the county.
“It is an unfunded mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as they continue to expand their jurisdiction into who has to have an NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems) permit,” said Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken. “It used to be larger cities like Toledo, Oregon, and Maumee, had to have them, and they kept pushing those requirements down further. Two years ago, they named places like Jerusalem, Monclova and Springfield townships as being required to participate, with a permit in place and documented activities, which they never had to have before. That costs money. That speaks to the requirement of water quality. We can map out where all your discharges and pollution are coming from. Any building on residential or commercial sites has to have containment regulations now, all of which are mandated and not funded. So it’s up to the communities.”
The county conducted an analysis and determined it was more efficient to establish a storm water utility district, said Gerken, for storm water management and drainage issues.
“We found it is cheaper, more efficient, cohesive and better for the EPA if these communities all go together and get one permit, rather than Jerusalem having to get their own EPA permit and enforce and administer it and document it, and Monclova and Springfield each trying to manage the process in a duplicative way. It’s cheaper to do one. That’s the purpose of the storm water utility charge. But we’re also not just meeting requirements of the EPA on the quality side. We also want to use some of that money to do capital improvement projects so that when you have storms as we had last week, we have a better system through detention, sewer maintenance, ditch maintenance and management to prevent flooding. So we want water quality that the EPA does not fund, and we want to manage our quantity of water better.”
There is a credit – up to 50 percent - for commercial businesses that implement storm water controls and best management practices on their properties that reduce the impact on the overall storm water system, according to Gerken. For more information, contact the Lucas County Engineer, who administers the program, at 419-213-4540.