A stormwater fee has been discussed for several months in Lower Paxton Township, but after two nights of presentations and public comments, the plan to pay off a $3.8 million annual bill for the next five years is much more clear.
The township is proposing that residents pay a flat fee of $128 a year, for the next five years, to help pay for state and federally mandated projects to help eliminate stormwater runoff into the township’s three creeks that trickle into the Chesapeake Bay.
The fee for homes is flat, but businesses, schools, and even churches wouldn’t get off so easy. The more hardened surfaces a property has, the more the owner would have to pay. One example is Colonial Park Mall.
“They have large parking lots for their customers. Those places will be charged a little bit more, and it’s all based — it’s all calculated by this consulting firm,” said Leigh Ann Urban, the township’s communications manager.
“As a school district, we are projecting our fee to be $125,000, which is the equivalent of two teachers,” said Eric Epstein, a Central Dauphin school board member.
Some residents wondered about establishing a credit system. Urban said that could happen down the line, but for now, it’s not possible.
“If I give you a credit, we still need to reach that $3.8 million amount. So, if I give you a credit, I’m still going to have to charge someone else more,” she said.
The fee is still in its proposal stage, but regardless of how it’s done, the township must pay up.
“It’s happening. Maybe it should have happened a few years back so that we can maybe lessen the pain and spread it out over time, but this is the way of the world at this point,” Urban said.
Several residents asked for other options like grants, but officials said with townships all over the country, including Susquehanna and Carlisle Borough, going through the same problems, competition is stiff.