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Funding a Storm Water Utility: the Denton, Texas approach K. E. Banks, D. H. Funding a Storm Water Utility: the Denton, Texas approach K. E. Banks, D. H. Hunter, and D. J. Wachal

Denton’s Location in Denton County Denton City Limits Sanger Krum Ponder Lake Ray Roberts Denton’s Location in Denton County Denton City Limits Sanger Krum Ponder Lake Ray Roberts Pilot Point Denton I-35 W Corinth I-35 E Lake Grapevine Lake Lewisville

City of Denton Drainage Program History n n In the beginning, the Drainage program City of Denton Drainage Program History n n In the beginning, the Drainage program was under the general fund and was tax based. u General fund uses are unrestricted, which can create a struggle for public works projects. u This program was very focused on water quantity. Because of increasing concerns about the general fund budget and the viability of the drainage program, the program was moved under Water and Wastewater Utilities in 1998.

City of Denton Drainage Program History n n n The transfer of the Drainage City of Denton Drainage Program History n n n The transfer of the Drainage Department to W/WW Utilities changed the focus of the program Main goal was still to provide for safe movement of storm water, but water quality focus increased. Water quality protection measures due to concerns about water resources. Grants obtained in 1998 and subsequent years increased the focus on water quality. Phase II storm water concerns were also integrated into this program.

City of Denton Drainage Program History • W/WW Utilities supported Drainage from 1998 to City of Denton Drainage Program History • W/WW Utilities supported Drainage from 1998 to 2002. • Resources available from long term financial planning allowed this, but funding was really designed to pay for: – Lake Ray Roberts water debt – New WTP construction – WWTP expansion • Increased revenues/decreased expenditures (drought related) also made this possible • Drainage was supported without a rate increase during these years.

City of Denton Drainage Program History n n However … rate structures for W/WW City of Denton Drainage Program History n n However … rate structures for W/WW were not designed for long-term Drainage Program support Rate revenues for W/WW were also needed to fund replacement of aging water lines, wastewater lines and other infrastructure in need of repair and / or replacement In 2002, W/WW got to the point where they could no longer support drainage without a rate increase. Additional resources needed for Phase II storm water requirements were also a concern.

Options n n n Discontinue Program (No funding required) u Drainage problems will grow Options n n n Discontinue Program (No funding required) u Drainage problems will grow and storm water issues will not be resolved Reduce Program Activities (Reduce required funding) u Would require a substantial reduction, especially when considering storm water requirements The search for funding was on …. or ? ? ?

Initial guiding thoughts All residents and businesses located in the service area benefit from Initial guiding thoughts All residents and businesses located in the service area benefit from drainage / storm water / watershed protection activities n Flood protection is also an obvious benefit n For Denton, the benefits to our drinking water source and recreational resources was also very important. n

Funding mechanisms considered n n Flat fee – easy to implement, but not equitable. Funding mechanisms considered n n Flat fee – easy to implement, but not equitable. Total property area – implementation easy, but potential inequities. Large property owners would pay more, but large property does not necessarily mean more runoff (relatively speaking) Percent of water / wastewater bill – easy to implement, but inequitable – several low water users produce substantial runoff. Fee based on impervious surface – equitable, but harder to administer and maintain accurate information. Information must be accurate to counter the “tax” arguement

Drainage Costs as a Function of Property Tax Drainage Costs as a Function of Property Tax

Drainage Costs as a Function of W/WW Bill Drainage Costs as a Function of W/WW Bill

Drainage Cost Based on Impervious Coverage Drainage Cost Based on Impervious Coverage

Calculating the fee n n Determine the budget needs of the program (fairly simple) Calculating the fee n n Determine the budget needs of the program (fairly simple) Sum up all the impervious cover in the City and then simply divide to determine the rate (hmmm… not so simple). You need good GIS capabilities and current, accurate data to accomplish this goal. Getting a good number is a challenge. Keeping it current is a bigger challenge.

Denton’s Location in Denton County Denton City Limits Sanger Krum Ponder Lake Ray Roberts Denton’s Location in Denton County Denton City Limits Sanger Krum Ponder Lake Ray Roberts Pilot Point Denton I-35 W Corinth I-35 E Lake Grapevine Lake Lewisville

Residential Impervious Cover (Denton City Limits) • Residences have least impervious surface per unit Residential Impervious Cover (Denton City Limits) • Residences have least impervious surface per unit • As a whole have tremendous impervious coverage

Other Classes of Impervious Cover n n Includes universities, nonprofits, county, city, state and Other Classes of Impervious Cover n n Includes universities, nonprofits, county, city, state and federal properties Also includes agricultural buildings (Denton City Limits) University Of North Texas Woman's University State School

Commercial Impervious Cover • All development classes install various forms of impervious cover (Denton Commercial Impervious Cover • All development classes install various forms of impervious cover (Denton City Limits) Peterbilt • Commercial properties typically have the most (per unit) due to size and attached parking areas Golden Triangle Mall Wal. Mart

Impervious Cover Classes Combined (Denton City Limits) n n When combined it becomes more Impervious Cover Classes Combined (Denton City Limits) n n When combined it becomes more apparent how much of our watersheds are made up of impervious coverage. As development continues, drainage improvements need to reflect fully developed conditions

Fee Calculation n n When the fee was implemented, the expected budget need for Fee Calculation n n When the fee was implemented, the expected budget need for the City was 3. 5 million per year. The total amount of impervious cover was estimated at 156, 753, 361 square feet. Residential was divided into 1 of 4 impervious cover size classes to simplify calculations. Dividing 3. 5 million by 156, 753, 361 calculates to $0. 02233 per square foot per year, or $0. 00186 per square foot per month.

Fee collection and fee reduction Fees collected as a part of the monthly utility Fee collection and fee reduction Fees collected as a part of the monthly utility bill. n Some citizens have mentioned on site capture as a way to eliminate or reduce the bill, but no-one has actually followed through. n Using pervious pavers or similar strategies can be used to reduce the fee. Some businesses have done this. n

Impervious Cover by Property Type & Estimated Fees Impervious Cover by Property Type & Estimated Fees

Impervious Cover by Property Type & Estimated Fees Average home = 2, 300 sq. Impervious Cover by Property Type & Estimated Fees Average home = 2, 300 sq. ft

Challenges Initial presentation to the Public Utility Board n After gaining PUB approval, we Challenges Initial presentation to the Public Utility Board n After gaining PUB approval, we then gained City Council approval. Accomplished through a series of work sessions over several months, with public meetings in between sessions n Since this fee was highly visible (utility bill), several public meetings were needed. Topic was also covered on City Web page and through newspaper announcements. n

Estimating impervious cover n n n Assessed all of our GIS information Several data Estimating impervious cover n n n Assessed all of our GIS information Several data sets were eliminated due to inaccuracies. A few data sets were satisfactory Imagery is a good source, but can be problematic due to resolution, tree coverage, camera angles, shadows, & gray-scale. You are always estimating a moving target. A mechanism for incorporating ALL new impervious cover must be developed Field verification is needed. If you can get +90% accuracy, you are doing good.

Maintaining Impervious Cover Tax appraisal information is used to establish square footage for all Maintaining Impervious Cover Tax appraisal information is used to establish square footage for all residential. Lists are created by building inspections as a part of the CO. n All new commercial property is measured directly. Building inspections sends a list of new properties to the drainage department. Drainage conducts direct surveys of these properties. n

Pluses and minuses of a storm water fee n n Plus - Few will Pluses and minuses of a storm water fee n n Plus - Few will likely favor the potential for greater flooding, less reservoir storage, loss of recreational benefits, the potential for fines, and decreased water quality. Minus - Many people viewed the fee as another form of tax. Some went as far as to call it a “rain tax”. u The issue of equity provided by a impervious cover based fee is important. The approach we used was equitable and easy to understand.

Expected statements and issues n n “I don’t have any drainage problems, why should Expected statements and issues n n “I don’t have any drainage problems, why should I pay”? (Keep the corollary in mind … I pay a drainage fee, so why do I still have drainage problems? ? ”) “My business constructed a retention pond to meet City standards. Why should I pay”? Generally, we had more opposition from large businesses with a lot of impervious cover than from homeowners. For Denton, residential was divided into 4 “size categories” and an estimate was used for driveways. This was done to ease calculations … some disagreements from residents, but surprisingly not many.

Issues to consider if using impervious cover based programs n n To create a Issues to consider if using impervious cover based programs n n To create a fee structure, you need an accurate listing of properties and the amount of impervious cover on these properties. This is difficult. Billing structure can be complicated. Keeping information current and assuring accuracy are major on-going tasks. BUDGET FOR THIS!!!! Having the fee as a component of the utility bill can provide a strong incentive to pay … if payment does not occur, service can be discontinued.

GIS Example GIS Example

Additional “surprises” In Texas, Universities worked to legislatively exempt themselves from storm water and Additional “surprises” In Texas, Universities worked to legislatively exempt themselves from storm water and drainage fees levied by local governments. n This was successfully accomplished n This hurt the Denton program, as the City has two major Universities. The fee structure was already in place when the exemption occurred, and City decision makers did not want to raise the fee to make up the loss n

Suggestions for survival n n Buy in from City Council is a must! Put Suggestions for survival n n Buy in from City Council is a must! Put in a lot of time in work sessions to educate the council on legal requirements as well as long term infrastructure needs. Council members need to understand the issues so they can defend their position to their constituents. Public meetings are a must. Take the hits early in the process versus later! Timing issues are important … we would have likely not been able to successfully implement a storm water fee if we were also pursuing a utility rate increase or tax increase.

Suggestions for survival n n n Educate, educate, using multiple forms of media if Suggestions for survival n n n Educate, educate, using multiple forms of media if possible Early on, you should conduct a needs assessment study and use this to estimate the rate. Then develop a “program plan” and schedule. Unfortunately, it does not rain often in most of Texas and people forget about storm water issues!!! u Continue to educate Council and Citizens, to make sure the issues are not forgotten u Schedule your final presentations to citizens and City Council in the historically rainiest month(s) of the year.

Ways to seek additional funding Once the basic funding mechanism is in place, you Ways to seek additional funding Once the basic funding mechanism is in place, you will immediately find that you need more resources than you had estimated n For Denton, additional resources were obtained through grants, partnerships, and through the used of volunteers. n

Grants n n n Received an EMPACT grant in 1998 in partnership with UNT. Grants n n n Received an EMPACT grant in 1998 in partnership with UNT. Used to buy equipment for a monitoring network Received a 104 b 3 grant in 2001. This grant was used to increase watershed protection activities. Partnered with CH 2 MHill and Texas A&M on two 104 b 3 grants (2002 -2004) related to watershed based water quality trading. Received a 104 b 3 grant in 2005 to evaluate the impacts of gas well drilling on storm water. Received a 319(h) grant in 2005 to build on the water quality trading concept, implement BMPs to further refine the approach, and develop a watershed protection plan for the Hickory Creek watershed

Things to consider for grants n n Grants are competitive, and as such require Things to consider for grants n n Grants are competitive, and as such require significant time investment to write the grant with no guarantee of success. Grants cannot substitute for O&M funds, and should only be considered as a supplement Granting agencies will evaluate grant applications with respect to how transferable the project results will likely be. The grantee’s ability to demonstrating on-going commitment to the project after the grant ends is an important component of the evaluation process

Pros of grants Provides additional resources to accomplish goals that would not otherwise be Pros of grants Provides additional resources to accomplish goals that would not otherwise be possible. n Provides the ability to leverage resources to get the maximum benefit for the program n Partnership grants are usually more viable and create relationships that can lead to additional research long after the grant has expired. n A successfully completed grant can often serve as a springboard to pursue additional grants … represents a better “bang for the buck” n

Cons of grants n n Administrative / management time: Accounting, quarterly reports, annual reports, Cons of grants n n Administrative / management time: Accounting, quarterly reports, annual reports, QAPPs, and similar requirements necessitate significant time commitments. Most grants have matching requirements, which can be challenging to accommodate under traditional budgeting approaches Dealing with multiple agencies (or individual departments within the same agency) can be challenging if conflicting goals exist. The combination of unpredictable weather, budgeting, availability of equipment and personnel, and the short time frame associated with most grant cycles can make coordinating these grants very challenging.

Citizen help at Denton n Benthic monitoring program – citizens help us monitor benthic Citizen help at Denton n Benthic monitoring program – citizens help us monitor benthic communities of streams. Citizens also do visual surveys of streams Mosquito Wrangler and Citizen Scientist – two programs designed to educate kids or families about mosquito biology, storm water, etc. The citizens help collect mosquito larva, and help report on streams Both of these programs will be used to meet components of public education and involvement of Phase II.

Combining University and Municipal Resources n n Denton has two major Universities. There are Combining University and Municipal Resources n n Denton has two major Universities. There are many opportunities for collaboration. This model has been successful for Denton. u There are time and resource commitments, just like grants. u The approach seems to work the best for targeted projects that are attempting to address a specific research question. u Overhead can be a problem …negotiate a lower rate u Student turnover and vacation

Contact Information Kenneth Banks, Ph. D. City of Denton Phone: (940) 349 -7165 email: Contact Information Kenneth Banks, Ph. D. City of Denton Phone: (940) 349 -7165 email: kenneth. [email protected] com