Colchester residents can expect the second round of bills later this month for the stormwater utility, which went into place in 2017.
Technical services manager Karen Adams said there are no changes to the utility itself: The residential fee is still $52, and commercial property owners will be charged in increments of $52 for every one-tenth acre of impervious surface. Even tax-exempt properties will be charged the fee.
The one alteration in this year’s process, however, is a small change in billing. Last round, Adams said, residents who own more than one property saw separate bills for each parcel. This time, bills will be combined for more streamlined tax purposes, she said.
Adams explained the $800,000 in stormwater fee revenue goes towards all things clean water: water quality testing at recreation areas, street sweeping, capital investments, outreach and the town’s various stormwater permits. One of these permits is the MS4 permit, issued by the state last year, which requires municipalities to regulate their phosphorus emissions in stormwater.
The budget also pays for Adams’ time working on water quality, a lot of which is spent obtaining grants, she said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be successful with some grant applications I’ve worked on, so that stretches every dollar the utility has a little bit further,” Adams said. “We have a lot of stormwater projects lined up this year, and almost all of them are grant-funded, which is fantastic.”
One of these projects is a town-wide assessment to determine what stormwater infrastructure needs fixing or replacement to ensure it meets state standards. Eighty percent of the $160,000 project cost will be covered by a federal grant funneled through the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, Adams explained.
A second project is set for the Shore Acres neighborhood where a design engineer is assessing possible stormwater improvements to reduce erosion, a notorious problem in the clay soil-filled area. The neighborhood is due for $300,000 in improvements, all grant-funded by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, which will hopefully begin next year, she said.
The last project, also funded through VTrans, will help Colchester stay up to code on its TMDL, or total maximum daily load of phosphorus discharge as required by state law, Adams said. Colchester has until 2021 to create a plan to reduce phosphorus discharge by 20 percent, but Adams said the town is a step ahead of the state’s requirement.
“We knew that this requirement was coming, and we sought grant funding to complete it,” Adams said. “We’re actually under contract right now with an engineer to develop that plan even though we don’t have to until 2021.”
Stormwater utility bills will be mailed out in the middle of the month and will be due by mid-February, either by cash, check or credit card. Adams said residents can visit the town’s stormwater website to learn more about the utility: https://colchestervt.gov/1837/Stormwater-Utility.