A new system for charging stormwater utility fees could have the majority of St. Albert residents and businesses paying less while others pay substantially more.
The city currently charges a flat rate for stormwater fees. 2017 rates are approximately $230 annually for residential properties, $170 annually for residential stacked properties such as apartment buildings, and $547 annually for commercial and industrial properties.
But current rates do not take into account what city staff refer to as the “imperviousness factor.”
Stephen Graham, senior business analyst for the city, said that refers to water-resistant surfaces that cause runoff into the storm system. If the imperviousness factor is taken into account, a new model would mean approximately three-quarters of residential customers would pay less, as well as 62 per cent of commercial and industrial customers.
Graham said one of the challenges city staff need to address are the handful of customers who would be hit with significant increases.
Approximately 20 per cent, or 4,802 residential customers, would pay less than $100 more, while 763 residents would see an increase of between $100 and $199.
One-hundred ninety-four residents would see increases beyond that up to $999, with 10 residential customers seeing their rates increase by more than $1,000.
As for commercial and industrial customers, 94 customers representing 11 per cent would see increases of between $500 and $999.
Increases would affect more commercial businesses than industrial, with 31 commercial businesses and 23 industrial businesses seeing rate increases of more than $10,000.
Graham said the change would also mean residential customers are carrying less of the stormwater burden.
“At the moment, in excess of 90 per cent of costs are recovered from residential customers, but they only represent 82 per cent of the total properties in the city,” he said.
“We (are) really expecting to see a shift in cost from residential to commercial and industrial customers.”
The proposed rate system will come to council in the second quarter of 2018 for review.
Mayor Nolan Crouse said when that comes forward, it should include implications for schools, churches, courthouses, hospitals and nursing homes, which typically have large parking lots.
“These are huge, huge areas,” he said, noting the average utility rate may not need to be as high if St. Albert were to “upload” the cost of stormwater for those facilities to the province.
The proposed changes would also elevate St. Albert’s commercial and industrial stormwater rates above the ones Edmonton charges.
Graham said city staff have discussed ways to mitigate that but need to discuss it further.
“We’re talking about more than pennies, so it’s something we need to address,” he said.
The difference in rates between the two municipalities is a reflection of each municipality’s property distribution, he added.