A year ago, Council agreed to change the method used to collect the tax required to operate Cobourg’s Stormwater system. Instead of it being included in the regular tax bill, it would be added to the Hydro/water bill issued by LUSI. Further, the tax would now be called a “charge” and would vary depending on a formula intended to correspond to usage – except that the formula has a major flaw. The thought was that stormwater run-off would depend on the type of property and its area but it did not consider properties that made no usage of stormwater services such as acreages. As a result, some properties have been billed charges that are simply not appropriate. To make the case for this to be fixed, Colline Bell and members of the Woodward family will make a presentation to Council at their Standing Committee meeting on 10 January at 1:00 pm and probably again at the Council meeting on 31 January.
Colline has supplied her planned presentation (see Resources) but here is a summary:
- The first thing to note is that billing by LUSI has been “paused” because of “errors” but this is an unrelated problem – there has so far been no public acknowledgement that the formula is wrong.
- The specific properties belonging to the delegation are:
- 8817 Danforth Rd East 2.6 acres – no water, sewer or stormwater services; grounds are mostly grass and gardens minimizing runoff; midtown creek runs through property and takes runoff; billed $318.52 so far (expect 3 more at this amount)
- Woodward property 93 acres – south east of Greer/Danforth; 60 acres farmed; no drainage into the town’s storm sewer; projected annual fee $15,000.
- Large properties with “green infrastructure” actually contribute to stormwater management
- A petition has been created online (using change.org) and has gathered 500 signatures – 246 from Cobourg residents and property owners; there are also 13 handwritten signatures from Cobourg residents and property owners;
- Colline has contacted councillors Mutton, Burchart, Barber and Bureau and met with Mayor Cleveland.
- She has also tried to contact Director Wills with no success.
- A comparison has been made with Municipalities: Ottawa, Guelph, Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, and 24 others. See presentation for details. Many take into account absorption rate. [However, Director Wills has said that this would be considerably more work and require additional staff].
- Recommendation is to simply cap the fee at $200 per year for residential and rural properties for 2023 and 2024. (Or the Town could revert to collecting amount required as previously – that is, via the tax levy).
The agendas for January’s Standing Committees are now online at escribe here.
If the Standing Committee agrees to review the formula (e.g. accept the recommendation), their recommendation will go to the regular council meeting on 31 January. There would also be a relatively minor impact on the fee charged to all taxpayers.
Town to now start billing Stormwater Fees – 9 October 2023