Lakewood’s increase in #stormwater fees hits nonprofits, churches — The Denver Post

Lakewood, Hogback View From Green Mountain, via
Lakewood, Hogback View From Green Mountain, via

From The Denver Post (Austin Briggs):

Schools, nonprofits and church buildings are among the properties hardest hit by the hikes, because the new rates assess the fee on commercial, retail or business properties based on the amount of impervious space on an area: the more roof and parking lot square footage, the higher the fee.

Owners of single-family homes pay a flat rate.

“Our mind was spinning when we got the bill,” said Lori Schreiner, business manager for St. Bernadette’s Church. “We budgeted for a 2 percent increase, which would have been about $40.”

Instead, the rate jumped from $1,493 to $2,790…

Residents and property owners started receiving bills reflecting the rate hikes in January. Residential homeowners are seeing their bill increase from $23.76 to $44.40 per year.

City officials have said the fee model is fairly standard across municipalities, and it makes sense that properties that push more water into the system should shoulder their share in the responsibility of maintaining it…

The city has 18 major drainages in need of 110 improvements, and another 70 improvements needed in localized neighborhoods. The city faces a $155 million maintenance backlog and hasn’t had a rate hike since the fee was instituted in 2000.

Many of the flooding issues are more prevalent in the older neighborhoods on the city’s east side, which were developed long before strict zoning guidelines were in place and the complexities of urban drainage were understood.

Jay Hutchison, the city’s public works director, said the city is in the design and planning stage for the first set of projects. Next year, construction is slated to begin on the installation of storm sewer systems at 20th Avenue and Nelson Street and 17th Avenue and Lee Street.

“We’ll have some followup projects that will start moving around town and continue for a number of years,” Hutchison said.

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