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Stormwater Fee: Explaining The Appeals Process

January 17, 2019

HANOVER TWP. — If you think the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority has the wrong measurements for your property, you don’t have to pay to appeal their decision.

Authority board chairman Samuel T. Guesto Jr. announced at the board’s Tuesday meeting that the agency was waiving all fees associated with the appeal process for a new stormwater fee.

That could save some homeowners hundreds of dollars.

Old appeals rules required some property owners to pay a $250 application fee and an escrow payment that was either 10 percent of the annual stormwater bill or $1,000 — whichever was greater.

 

“After consideration of feedback we received through meetings and the public, we were looking for a way where we could contain costs and help the property owners,” WVSA spokeswoman Donna Gillis said.

The stormwater fee is based on the amount of impervious surface on a property. For homeowners who think WVSA has miscalculated the amount of impervious surface on their property, there are two avenues for redress.

Property owners can ask for a review of their property, and following that, they can file an appeal. Here’s how to request a review:

Property owners can request a review by submitting a stormwater inspection form. The form is available at WVSA.org or by calling the authority’s business office at 570-820-9872.

Properties in tier one or tier two, which owe the equivalent of $4.80 per month, need the “WVSA Stormwater Inspection Form.”

Properties in tier three need the “WVSA Stormwater Technical Inspection Form.” Those properties owe the equivalent $1.70 per 1,000 square feet of impervious area per month.

Property owners can submit any pictures, drawings or other supporting documentation that supports their claim. The technical review will use information they provide. It may also require site visits or questions of the owner.

After completing the form, mail or hand deliver it to the sanitary authority’s facility in Hanover Twp. The address is: WVSA Stormwater Division, 1000 Wilkes-Barre Street, PO Box 33A, Hanover Twp., PA 18703.

An inspector will call the owner to schedule a visit that will determine whether to adjust the stormwater fee. Property owners will hear back within 90 days.

The agency has received several dozens requests for reviews already and is trying to process requests quickly, Gillis said.

If that doesn’t resolve a homeowner’s questions, they can file an appeal.

The authority allows appeals for five reasons:

n A challenge to the impervious area calculations.

n Mathematical errors in calculation of fees.

n Incorrect identification of ownership of parcel.

n Incorrect application of a credit under the WVSA credit policy.

n Incorrect interpretation of applicable WVSA rules and regulations.

To file an appeal, submit a stormwater appeal form, which is available at WVSA.org or by calling the authority’s business office at 570-820-9872.

The form must be submitted via mail within 30 days of the onsite inspection or technical review denial, with a postmark as evidence.

The appeal should be mailed to: WVSA Stormwater Appeals, PO Box 1343, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18703-1343.

WVSA will schedule a hearing within 60 days of the date the appeal is filed. An appeals board, composed of three individuals appointed by the WVSA board chairperson, will hear challenges to the fee. The board will first seek an amicable solution to the property owner’s appeal. Barring an agreement, the board will take testimony and make a recommendation to the full WVSA board. The board will make the final decision on the appeal.

“We’re all in this together to try to meet these mandates,” Gillis said. “We’re looking for ways to curb costs that will be beneficial to the payers.”

Contact the writer:

bwellock@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2051, @CVBillW