Stormwater fee proposed in Harrisburg; mayor doesn’t agree

Harrisburg


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Many municipalities are now charging stormwater management fees to help cover the cost of cleaning up waterways. It’s a federal regulation that’s not funded.

The Capital Region Water board voted Wednesday to move forward with a stormwater fee proposal, now open for public comment.

Capital Region Water’s City Beautiful H2O plan has been at least four years in the making.

“We have 20 years that we have to work to clean up our streams and fix all the infrastructure that’s in the ground,” Capital Region Water CEO Charlotte Katzenmoyer said.

Katzenmoyer says her company has already invested millions into stormwater improvements, but now they need a dedicated funding source to pay for it.

“We’ve been very deliberate in studying this and determining what is a fair fee to assess,” Katzenmoyer said.

For a typical residential property, a new stormwater fee would be an extra $6.15 a month. For even smaller properties, that’s cut in half.

“The larger property owners that generate more stormwater off of their property are going to pay more than a small resident that doesn’t generate a lot of stormwater,” Katzenmoyer said.

It’s a federal and state mandate that every municipality contributes to cleaning up the environment, but how that goal is met is where Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse disagrees.

“We are already overtaxed, overfeed in the city and we’re dealing with a majority of our population living at or below the poverty line,” Papenfuse said.

Katzenmoyer says part of the $315 million plan involves building green infrastructure. She points to studies of Philadelphia and Lancaster that it improves quality of life.

“Those communities have seen the benefit and it’s actually not been what the mayor has been indicating that would be economic downturn and impact to the low-income residents,” Katzenmoyer said.

But Papenfuse says Katzenmoyer is wrong.

“We need cooperation from the other entities to say that we’re going to work within our means and we’re going to work together and I don’t see this as a good short-term strategy,” Papenfuse said.

The public comment period will last until Sept. 25. If all goes as planned, the rates will be finalized in October and the first billing cycle with the new fees wouldn’t be until January 2020.

If you want to give feedback on the proposed fee, click here. 

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