Meuser Wants Stormwater Fee Suspended Until Issues Resolved
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser wants to suspend the collection of a new stormwater fee until the state Department of Environmental Protection provides a better explanation of issues involving the controversial fee.
“Residents should not be expected to finance an unfunded mandate without a clear understanding of how the fees are calculated, what accountability measures are in place, and what, exactly, spurred the creation of these unexpected fees,” Meuser said in a letter to DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.
DEP enforces stormwater management permits issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to municipalities. The new stormwater fee stems from a federal requirement to reduce pollution that drains into the Chesapeake Bay from the Susquehanna River.
In Luzerne County, 32 municipalities put the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority in charge of stormwater management, and the authority last month began charging stormwater fees based on the amount of impervious surface area on property.
The authority had planned to collect more than $8 million this year for stormwater-related services and projects. On Jan. 30, the authority responded to protests and objections by reducing the fee on owners of Tier 3 properties — 7,000 square feet or more of impervious surface.
Tier 3 owners will now pay a base fee of $4.80 per month, the same as owners of Tier 2 properties — 500 to 6,999 square feet. But Tier 3 owners will pay an additional $1.70 per month for each additional 1,000 square feet of impervious surface.
Under the old fee structure, Tier 3 properties were assessed a straight fee of $1.70 per square foot. The fee is $1 a month for Tier 1 properties — between 100 and 499 square feet.
The Dallas Area Municipal Authority is charging stormwater fees in Dallas Twp., Dallas and Kingston Twp. DAMA this year is charging $60 for each equivalent dwelling unit assessed to a property and plans to calculate impervious areas next year. DAMA uses the equivalent-dwelling-unit assessment for sewage bills.
Meuser said he wanted to meet with McDonnell in his letter, which had Wednesday’s date posted and was released to the media Thursday.
“Please understand that this is a serious and urgent matter for the constituents of my district, and I plan to continue to seek answers until these fees are clearly understood,” Meuser said.
Contact the writer: