Shawnee considers raising residents’ stormwater utility fees — Here’s why

A stormwater drain in Shawnee. File image.

An increase in the fee Shawnee residents pay for stormwater management is on the table as city councilmembers consider their options for the upcoming budget year.

What’s on the table? At a special city council meeting Monday to review the city’s budget for capital improvements, councilmembers were presented with options for raising the stormwater utility fee – a tax levied on property owners for upkeep of the storm drainage infrastructure.

  • An increase would bring in more revenue to keep up with stormwater improvement needs, particularly replacement and maintenance of aging corrugated metal pipe, said City Manager Nolan Sunderman.

The bigger picture: Stormwater projects have been a priority for the city for several years.

  • The current utility fee is $72 per year collected on single family homes. For other properties, the fee is calculated from a formula based on the amount of impervious surface.
  • The current fee raises about $3.6 million a year for the city and has not been changed since 2016, when it was raised from $32.

How much would the fee increase? City staff presented several options for a new fee ranging from $80 to $100 per year, with the highest option raising about $1.4 million more annually than the current fees do.

  • A projection of how many more projects could be funded with the higher tax was not possible, Sunderman said, because projects vary so widely in cost.
  • The city can also apply for a county match for its stormwater projects, Sunderman said.
  • The county’s stormwater management fund provides a 50% match for approved projects, and the city has used the match program to complete $50 million in stormwater projects since 2016, with $17 million coming from the county.

No action yet: Councilmembers offered little discussion and took no action Monday.

  • Councilmember Eric Jenkins suggested that an increased utility fee be combined with a reduction in the property tax mill levy rate.