In November 2021, a consultant reported to Council that not enough money was being spent on stormwater management. The new asset management plan makes it clear how much should be spent so in future, we can be assured that drains, pumps and storage areas will be properly funded. This led to a discussion as to how the money should be collected and council approved a new method: instead of the cost being included in taxes, there would be a fee in the same way that water supply and sewer management is funded. The fee would depend on the type of property and the area it covers – this approximates to the actual cost for each property although there is one disconnect: there is no allowance for large residential properties with significant areas of grass which would allow rainwater and snow melt to be absorbed. Note that since stormwater costs would no longer be collected through tax bills, you’d think taxes would be reduced. Well, my recollection is that Director Laurie Wills did remove stormwater fees from her budget so taxes for the Works department did not increase for 2023 – but unfortunately increases by other departments more than made up for this.
The new method of collecting this revenue was agreed in the 2023 budget sessions with the invoicing being done by Lakefront Utilities on the Town’s behalf. They would add the stormwater amount as another item on the electricity/ water/ sewer bill. Calculating the amount requires knowing the type of property plus the ground area it covered and the Town elected to get this information from MPAC. This is the agency that calculates the property assessment (valuation) for tax purposes and the information that MPAC has includes the required information (but not the grass area). It seems it has taken until now for MPAC to pass this information to the Town since it has only now been announced that invoicing will start in our next Lakefront invoice.
Notification came in the Town’s recent quarterly newsletter and it says that the 2023 amount will be spread equally over remaining 2023 invoices and the 2024 amount (decided by the asset management plan) will be evenly spread over 2024 invoices.
So how much will it be?
The Town’s web site has a page which explains the new plan and provides the formulas for 2023, 2024 and 2025. To make your own calculation, you first need to know what property type you have – most readers of this post will be low, medium or high density residential. The next thing you need to know is the area occupied. Both of these are available from MPAC although it’s not entirely clear how MPAC terminology translates to the Town’s density type. For example, the MPAC description for my Condo Townhouse is “CONDO STACKED TOWN HOUSE” – what density is that (medium or high)? To access MPAC’s information on your property, you need to create an account then sign in using your tax roll number. See link in Resources. But my guess for my personal “stormwater fee (tax)” for 2023 is $17.66. With 3 invoices yet to come in 2023, that’s $5.89 for stormwater on each of my next three bills. If you have a detached house on a 50′ x 110′ lot, the Town calculates your fee at $46.23 per year.
It’s intended that commercial properties with large paved parking lots, that collect a lot of rainwater, would pay relatively large amounts. And it’s intended to be proportional to the cost for managing all that water.
If you want more information, the Town’s web page is well worth a visit (that’s the first link in Resources below).
- Town of Cobourg Stormwater management page
- Cobourg to Increase Stormwater Charge – 16 November 2021 – Cobourg blog post – discussion of need to pay more – consultant report
- MPAC Web site – Under “About my Property” at top left, click “Login/Register” to login or register for an account and get personal property details
- Town of Cobourg Newsletter for October – pdf version – includes announcement of charging a stormwater fee.