Chambersburg businesses will see a hike in their storm sewer pollution control fee, starting with their January bill.
“If you own property that is not a single-family house, you should prepare for the change,” Borough Manager Jeff Stonehill warned in December.
The borough has 993 properties that are not single-family residences. Those include businesses, multi-family properties, commercial properties, churches and institutions such as nursing homes and a hospital. The fee changes impact those properties, Stonehill said. They will pay the fee based upon the actual impervious area on their property or lot.
Single family homes won’t see an increase in the $5 monthly fee. Chambersburg businesses, multi-family units, churches and institutions could see substantial increases, however.
The flat fee was first added to the borough’s utility bills in 2015.
The idea behind fees for treatment of storm water was first implemented in 2014. The borough has operated a storm sewer system for almost a century, however. Local property taxes covered the cost until recent years. The most recent fee schedule establishes a separate fee structure where all property owners shared in the cost, rather than just the 60% that pay real estate taxes.
Leveling the playing field
The latest change levels the playing field, so to speak, levying fees based on the amount of storm water each property feeds into the system. Properties with large amounts of impervious area like parking lots pay a higher rate than those with larger amounts of unpaved surface that allows water to be absorbed into the soil.
The result is much higher storm sewer fees for many businesses.
The new Storm Sewer Pollution Control Fee and Credit Program was supposed to take place in 2020; but Town Council put it on hold at the start of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Stonehill said several fliers and mailers have already gone out to borough property owners. Town Council approved new legislation in late 2021 to put the changes in place in January.
“We want to make sure that non-single-family property owners know that this change is coming soon,” Stonehill said.