Ferguson Township has completed Phase 1 of a stormwater user fee feasibility study.
The Township’s consultant Elizabeth Treadway of Wood -- in partnership with Gannett Fleming -- presented the study findings at the Regular Meeting of the Board of Supervisors on Monday, May 21, 2018.
The study considered the following questions:
• What are the problems, needs and opportunities of the current stormwater program
• Why change the current funding method?
• What are the priorities in the next 5 years and the long-range goals?
• What is the best organizational structure to deliver services to the community?
• What program elements require additional funding?
• What is the best way to pay for stormwater management?
With Phase 1 of the project complete, the Board directed Ferguson Township staff to obtain a scope and price proposal for Phase 2, which outlines next steps for implementing a stormwater user fee. The presentation included program costs over five years, service levels, funding methods, noted how fees are calculated, and estimated rates. The scope and breadth of the next phase has yet to be determined.
Key bullet points from the presentation (link to the full Stormwater User Fee presentation below)
– Infrastructure investments for resiliency
– Condition assessment to drive priorities
– Investment in water quality protection for sustainability
– Shift from reactive to more proactive services
• Operational Impact: – Systems in place to implement
• Fairness and Equity: – Demonstrated through various rate options
• Flexibility: – Rate policies can address unique conditions on who pays and how much
Policies and Issues for Consideration
• Urban versus Rural Services
– Significant variability in levels of service and system needs
• Partnership with PSU
– Both regulated under Clean Water Act mandates
– Overlapping and shared responsibilities
– Formalization of roles/responsibilities to be clarified
• Flexibility to Incentivize Property Owners
– Public/Private Partnerships
• Revenue Neutrality in User Fee Adoption
– All costs shifted to Stormwater Fund with appropriate reduction in other sources
– New services funded by fees
• Shifting to User Fees is feasible
– Operationally and financially.
– Meet long-term goals; dedicate revenues; address needs; sustain infrastructure.
• Policies can be flexible to address:
– Service level variability
– Credit for private investment
– Incentives for expanding Green Infrastructure
– Distribution of costs efficiently and with increased equity
– Infrastructure investments shift from reactive to proactive
– Revenue neutrality, achieved at a macro-level
Timeline for the Study
- Ferguson Township issued a Request for Proposals in March 2017.
- The Township accepted proposals through April 2017.
- In June 2017, the Township awarded a professional services contract to Amec Foster Wheeler Environment and Infrastructure Inc. to perform a stormwater fee feasibility study as outlined in the RFP and its scope of services in an amount not to exceed $69,825.00.
- Data gathering began in July 2017 and a kick-off meeting was held in August 2017.
- In September 2017, a Stormwater Advisory Committee (SAC) convened for its first meeting. Its members represent the diversity of stakeholders – residents that include a farmer, an agricultural engineer, a master gardener, geologist, homeowner’s association, contractor, and water resource activist, as well as these organizations -- Centre Region Parks and Recreation, State College Area School District, Penn State, and, the Chamber of Business and Industry, Centre County (CBICC).
- The SAC met for the 7th time on April 18, followed by a second public meeting that evening.
- Public outreach is ongoing via a page on the Ferguson Township website, newsletters, a work session with and presentation to the Board of Supervisors, and the first of 2 public meetings that was held March 21. C-NET recorded the first public meeting and will record the second meeting as well.
- May/June 2018 – Township staff and the consultant presented the final report to the Board of Supervisors at its Regular Meeting on Monday, May 21, 2018. Supervisors directed the Township staff to take the next step to refine the fee structure and implement a stormwater user fee.
The cost of stormwater management and rationale for a stormwater fee
The Township is subject to a NPDES Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. Since the initial permit application in 2002, the Township has hired additional staff to comply with permit submission requirements. Enabling legislation in the Commonwealth has allowed Pennsylvania municipalities to assess property owners a fee based on a number of different models including, but not limited to a “flat rate,” square footage of the lot, or total impervious area of each property.
The Ferguson Township Public Works (FTPW) Department’s responsibilities relevant to stormwater management include street sweeping, concrete curb and inlet repairs, ditch grading, stormwater pipe repairs, maintenance of Township owned stormwater basins and BMPs (most stormwater basins and BMPs are privately owned). The replacement and maintenance of these facilities could potentially be funded by a stormwater fee. Stormwater pipe replacement can be a significant cost of any roadway improvement project. Failing corrugated metal storm pipes need to be replaced and could be funded by a stormwater fee.
In addition, the Township’s Engineering Department’s responsibilities include 5 of 6 measurable goals required by the Township’s MS4 permit including: public education and outreach, public participation and involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, post-construction site runoff control, and pollution prevention/good housekeeping.
The Township will be required to reduce the sediment pollutant load to the Chesapeake Bay by 10 percent in the next permit cycle, and it is anticipated that a total reduction of 40 percent will be required through future permits. Projects required to be built and then maintained to meet these new pollutant reduction requirements may be funded by a future stormwater fee of some type.
It is also possible that the acquisition and maintenance of privately owned stormwater basins, as well as acquisition of drainage easements for flood control, could be funded by a stormwater fee.
Scope of Work Required for the Project
Tasks for this project included but were not limited to:
1) Program Review: Evaluate existing stormwater activities of the Township by interviewing Township staff and reviewing available asset databases and documents such as MS4 annual reports, MS4 permit compliance activities, PRP, annual operating budget, and the capital improvement budget. The Consultant will establish the current Level of Service of stormwater management provided by the Township, including an associated summary of existing costs including administration, engineering, maintenance, and capital improvement. Task Completed.
2) Stormwater Management Program Development: Building on the existing stormwater activities, the Consultant will work with Township staff to identify goals and priorities for both the short and long-term management of the Township’s stormwater system and associated facilities. Goals should include but not be limited to stormwater management program administration and engineering, flood mitigation, regulatory compliance activities including but not limited to system mapping, illicit discharge and other inspections, infrastructure rehabilitation, capital construction for projects included in the PRP, acquisition of private stormwater facilities, asset management, and stormwater system maintenance. Working with the staff, the consultant will identify a recommended Level of Service and develop an annual cost estimate for operation and maintenance, capital improvement, and overall management of the Township’s MS4 for the next five to 10 years. Task Completed.
3) Public Outreach / Education: Facilitate 6 public meetings (3 with the Board of Supervisors, 1 general public meeting, and 2 focus group meetings with specific stakeholders) to inform and solicit comments from the Board of Supervisors, staff, residents, businesses, and other groups interested in the assessment and development of a mechanism to fund the MS4 program such as a fee or utility or authority. The Consultant will develop and provide educational literature used in support of this task. Develop and maintain a web page that will provide current information regarding the progress of the evaluation, which will link to the Township’s website. Ongoing.
4) Stakeholder Advisory Committee: Facilitate 5 Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings whose purpose will be to provide feedback on existing and future stormwater program goals and priorities and provide recommendations on the proposed stormwater fee structure. The Consultant will work with staff to carefully select committee members to provide a comprehensive and balanced representation of residents, businesses, and other stakeholders within the Township. The SAC met for the 7th time on April 18.
5) Organization and Staffing: Assess the impacts of creating a stormwater management fee structure such as a stormwater utility on the Township’s current organization and provide recommendations for the organizational structure and staffing. Task Completed.
6) Rate Structure: The Consultant will evaluate funding sources and evaluate rate structures including various impervious area based rate structures. Each scenario should provide sufficient revenue to offset the anticipated costs and be fair, equitable, legal and defensible. The Township will work with the Consultant in developing a procedure to use the Township’s Geographical Information System and other relevant databases that include information on parcels, land use, land area and impervious surface area. Township staff will work with the Consultant to provide or obtain the data needed for the rate structure evaluations. Under Development.
7) Report: Report on the findings of the study and present the final results of the study to the Board of Supervisors at a regular public meeting. The report will include a compilation of meeting minutes, presentations, summary report of the advisory committee, current services report, level of service report, cost of current service, future program report, funding options analysis, organizational impacts, and identify a process for going forward with a user-fee funding strategy and a timeline for implementation of a user fee.
Stormwater Advisory Committee
Presentations to the Public
Stormwater Presentation and Document Archive