Considerations for Implementation
After a locality decides to move ahead with a stormwater utility, the process enters the implementation phase. The process of transforming the utility concept into reality includes several important steps as outlined below. The time required to complete the process, including the feasibility study and public education, varies widely; however, a two-year period is not uncommon.
Click below to explore the major implementation steps:
Formally broach the stormwater utility concept with the public.
Arrange a series of meetings with key stakeholders (e.g., businesses, tax exempt property owners), extending the ongoing public education process to provide more detailed information tailored to each group’s specific situation. (Public education should take place before, during, and after the establishment of the utility.)
Adopt either a local ordinance or a resolution referencing, at a minimum, the state enabling legislation, local authority, the rate and credit structure, and the appeals process.
Finalize the schedule originally proposed in the feasibility study. Identify the implementation year, considering possible phase-in of certain aspects as well as timing issues (e.g., issuing the first billing prior to the start of the fiscal year to align revenues with anticipated expenses).
The policy on credits should be developed in coordination with the fee structure.The appeals process for fees should address customer objections in an equitable, timely manner, and each request should be individually tracked for future reference.
Establish data management tools for billing and determine the preferred method, typically choosing from the following options:
- Separate line on an existing utility bill
- Separate line on the property tax bill
- Stand-alone stormwater utility bill
The software should be able to net out approved credits. To identify any flaws before the initial billing cycle, mock bills should be prepared and procedures should be established for billing multi-unit properties (e.g., multiple tenants in a shopping center).
Affected local staff, and particularly those who will be involved with billing and credits, should be thoroughly trained on the utility’s operations. To prepare for customer inquiries, the rate structure and credit policy should be emphasized. Also, all staff responsibilities relating to the utility should be formalized through updated organizational charts, job descriptions, etc.
As part of the outreach program, customers should be formally notified far in advance of the first billing.
Launch the program.