In Pennsylvania, many communities are charging, or considering charging, property owners fees to address storm water management. State-wide, communities must reduce storm water runoff that is depositing sediment in local water sources as outlined by the state Department of Environmental Protection. Latrobe is the latest area municipality to consider charging property owners to help meet its required annual reduction of 10 percent, or a minimum of 114,700 pounds of sediment, over five years.
Michael Gray, Latrobe’s interim city manager, has said that the estimated cost of the fee plan is $2 million. Half of the funds would come from the city and the other half from the “user fee.” The user fee would be used to plant trees, install rain gardens and storm water ponds, all best practices for storm water management and all things that in the past would have come from the general fund; however, “competing demands and limited growth” of that fund make that impossible.
The question becomes how to implement the fee. One option is to charge residences a flat rate and charge businesses an amount based on the amount of impervious area square footage they own that creates water run-off (parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, roofs). Another suggested idea is to add it the fee to the cost of an existing service, such as garbage. The town of Derry has already implemented a combination of these ideas, Mt. Lebanon has been paying a fee ranging from $8 and $24 per month since 2011 for storm water management, and Monroeville began charging an annual stormwater fee of $120 in January.
Latrobe may grant credit to residents who make changes to their property that decrease run off, one example being to replace a paved driveway with pavers or other rock that allow water to be reabsorbed into the ground. Of course, the cost of tearing out a driveway and purchasing paver blocks will not be cheap. Either way, Pennsylvania residents should prepare themselves for increased costs.
 Himler, Jeff. “Storm Water Fee Proposed for Latrobe Property Owners.” TribLIVE.com, 24 Apr. 2019, triblive.com/local/westmoreland/storm-water-fee-proposed-for-latrobe-property-owners/.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Cutrer, Flickr