Sustainable Financing for Municipal Stormwater Management Programs
Municipal stormwater management (SWM) programs represent signifi-cant public investments that are largely funded through property taxes in Canada. Stormwater revenue drawn from taxes must compete with many other municipal services and is often inadequate to provide an acceptable level of service demanded by the community. In addition to meeting current needs, municipalities must also finance future program revenue requirements (e.g. to renew or replace aging infrastructure, comply with new stormwater regulations, or to operate and maintain additional facilities due to new development). Competing demands for limited tax funds will force municipalities to pursue alternative financ-ing mechanisms in order to provide a financially sustainable SWM program.
In this chapter, a stormwater rate is investigated as an alternative sustainable financing mechanism. A stormwater rate that is based on each property’s contribution to runoff quantity and quality offers a logical and legally defensible method for allocating municipal SWM program costs. Revenue is thus generated as a user fee and in a more fair and equitable manner than the assessed property value. Stormwater rates are a relatively new concept in Canada, but have been successfully implemented in hundreds of municipalities throughout the United States.
Recent case studies in Ontario are used to highlight the issues and approaches for developing a stormwater rate as a sustainable financing option.
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