The Town of Cobourg gets revenue from Taxes, grants from other levels of Government and user fees. The biggest user fee is for water and sewer but there is no specific fee for Stormwater – its cost is included in taxes. But some properties result in more use of stormwater drains than others. For example large paved areas funnel more water to drains than lawns. Another issue is that up till now, the Town did not know how much money was spent or should be spent on stormwater drains. To sort out the cost and how it should be funded, the Town hired a consultant to advise them. At the next Committee of the Whole meeting on May 9, Peter Simsisco of Watson & Associates will provide their report which answers these questions.
Separately, Staff are working on an Asset management system (computer software) and one of the tasks is to enter all data on Stormwater assets. Part of the report includes a summary list of stormwater related assets, their value (replacement cost $70M), their expected life, and ongoing maintenance costs. See Resources below for their full report – they estimate annual capital costs varying from $500K to over $2M and operating costs increasing from $528K in 2023 to $581K in 2032. But the big question, is how should this be paid?
- Property Taxes – current funding method and most commonly used by other municipalities. Disadvantage is that the amount paid has little correlation to actual usage of stormwater drains
- Flat Rate – each property would pay the same amount. Certainly no correlation to actual usage of Stormwater drains
- Land Area – that is, amount paid would be proportional to area of property. Although there is some correlation to usage, disadvantage is that there could be major variations. For example paved areas direct more water to drains.
- Utility rate – that is, like sewer rates, amount paid would depend on amount of water used. Disadvantage is that water used is not well correlated to stormwater drain usage.
- Runoff Coefficient – using land area, add a factor that takes into account the run-off. Would be based on property class. Disadvantage is that it’s hard to calculate with a higher administration cost.
- Impervious Area of the Properties – similar to Runoff Coefficient except that the imperviousness would be actually measured. Disadvantage is that it’s hard to calculate with the highest administration cost.
The recommended option is #5 “Runoff Coefficient by Actual Land Area per Property”. The advantages given are:
- Dedicated and stable funding sources which allow for better long-term planning;
- Segregation of revenue directly aligned with service provision;
- Increased equity as properly designed stormwater fees follow a user pay principle; and
- Increased awareness of the importance of stormwater management and associated costs which can increase public support.
But what’s the estimated impact on various categories of properties? It depends on the estimated cost of providing and maintaining stormwater drains and varies mostly with land area but also on type of property – see full report for more detail.
|Sample Property||Annual Stormwater bill 2023|
|Residence Single Detached||$76.25|
No estimate is provided for Condos.
There are two changes:
- More money collected because the cost of maintaining stormwater drains is higher than the current budget.
- A different allocation of money collected based on usage.
Because of change #1, we can expect 2023 taxes to be higher (because of this) by a typical $76.25.
The benefit of all this is really just improved transparency – we will know how many dollars of our taxes are spent on stormwater. And maybe people emptying pools will be motivated to use their lawn instead of street drains.
The next step planned by staff is a “public forum for … public review on Engage Cobourg. The Council presentation and report will be available for public review and comment until May 25.” Staff will then summarize public input in a report to Council and ask for a decision.
- Cobourg to increase Stormwater charge – posted on 16 November 2021
- Stormwater Asset Management Plan and Funding Assessment for Cobourg by Watson and Associates (download pdf)
- Cobourg Internet page listing Town Surveys and Forums.