Cobourg Staff have recommended that the cost of stormwater management be handled differently. At the same time, they have been developing an asset management plan that determined how much money will be required in future to provide good stormwater management. At the CoW meeting on June 20, Council was asked to approve the change. They were told that significant additional money would be required and that if there were no changes, the average taxpayer would pay $150 per year instead of the $37 currently budgeted (buried in their tax bill). If the proposed stormwater fee were to be implemented, residential taxpayers would instead pay $75 – no longer in their tax bill but instead in a new bill – similar to the water and sewer bill.
That is, changing to a special stormwater fee would mean that residents would pay less overall with commercial properties paying the difference. That’s less than they would have paid although more than currently.
Council had three choices:
- No change – let stormwater assets continue without being fixed and expect much larger costs in future to fix them (see below for report detailing costs)
- Fix the infrastructure but don’t implement stormwater fees based on usage (see article: More on separate Stormwater Tax) Average residential tax bill for stormwater would be $150 instead of the current $37 – that’s $113 higher.
- Fix the infrastructure and implement stormwater fees based on usage. Tax bill would be lower than otherwise but residences would be billed and taxed such that they pay an average of $76 per year for stormwater instead of $150. Staff recommended this approach.
Mayor John Henderson spoke about the current issue of affordability and said he would oppose the change – he seemed to think that the stormwater fee would increase costs to taxpayers – it does not, it actually reduces total costs to most taxpayers. Charging a stormwater fee based on usage moves a lot of the cost to commercial properties with large paved areas. Public Works Director Laurie Wills and Corporate Services Director Ian Davey explained the facts – with the admission by Laurie that it is “challenging to understand” – and John eventually joined other councillors in approving the change.
Staff propose to add the stormwater fee to the Lakefront Utility Bill with the following rates:
|Property Category||2022 Stormwater Rate per Hectare (ha)||2023 Stormwater Rate per Hectare (ha)|
|Residential (low density)
– typically single detached houses
|Residential (medium density)
– typically townhouses
|Residential (high density)
– typically condominiums
- The property type and size will be based on information provided to the Town by MPAC.
- The rate is higher in 2023 because the money spent on stormwater infrastructure will be higher.
- “A typical residential lot size is approximately 0.2 of an acre or 0.08ha. The average residential homeowner would pay $150 per year in their property taxes toward stormwater without the new dedicated stormwater charge in place. The stormwater charge would reduce the cost to that homeowner by nearly 50% ($76 versus $150) by applying a more equitable assessment.”
- I calculated that my Townhouse would be billed $17.60 in 2023.
The next step is to approve a by-Law at the Regular Council meeting on June 27 which will take effect July 1, 2022.
One thing to note is that previous councils and Public Works Directors did not spend enough keeping the stormwater system in shape. The reason it has now been noticed is that the Province mandated that Municipalities create “Asset Management Plans (AMP)” and a new one for stormwater shows what is required (download full report in Resources below). The deadline to implement AMPs is July 2025 so the AMP for Stormwater for Cobourg is early.
Update – 28 June
When this issue came to a ratification vote at the Regular Council meeting on 27 June, it was passed without further debate.
- Stormwater Rate Assessment FAQs
- Staff Memo – Stormwater Management Rate Study
- Public Engagement Report – Stormwater
Earlier posts on Cobourg News Blog
- More on separate Stormwater Tax – 2 May 2022
- Cobourg to Increase Stormwater Charge – 16 November 2021 [Increase is in total amount – not for residential taxpayers]
Download Report by Watson and Associates detailing future costs as required by the Asset Management Plan.