The rain tax is here in Richmond, Virginia. What is the rain tax? How does it affect residential and commerical property owners? Also known as a stormwater utility fee, this fee is used to pay for the city's stormwater infrastructure reapair, maintenance and replacement. Stormwater runoff from all impervious surfaces will be taxed on a square foot basis
The stormwater utility fee provides the City of Richmond, Virginia a dedicated revenue stream to be used only for stormwater system maintenance, operations, systems planning and construction. The fees provide funding for new programs for preventative maintenance, repair and improvement. The stormwater system is periodically cleaned on a systematic basis.
Stormwater runoff is a portion of rain or melting snow that runs into the stormsewer and does not soak into the ground. The runoff comes from impervious surfaces such as parking lots, roads, driveways or other impervious surfaces. So, what is an impervious surface? An impervious surface is one in which the area has been covered with a material that normally is resistant to water infiltration. Therefore, the water does not soak into the ground. Constructed surfaces are generally impervious because they use materials such as concrete, asphalt, stone and brick. A compacted gravel driveway is considered impervious and any surface covered with gravel that is used by vehicles or equipment to drive or park.
In Virginia the cities of Portsmouth, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Newport News have also adopted this stormwater utility system (tax or fee). Across the country approximately 400 other municipalities have set up stormwater utilities.
Whether you have an occupied or unoccupied property, you will be assessed a fee. In Richmond, according to the Department of Public Utilites, "direct benefits include protecting your property from upstream runoff, protecting properties downstream from your runoff and improving water quality in the James River." The rates for residential properties are based on the impervious surface area the property has.
Rate for the City of Richmond, Virginia as of 08-31-2010
For the Single Family Residential parcel the annual fee is:
- Less than or equal to 1,000 square feet - $25.00 per year
- Between 1,001 - 2,399 square feet - $45.00 per year
- Over 2,400 square feet - $70.00 per year
For Non-Residential - the rates are per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU)
- Multi-family - $45.00 per ERU
- Non-residential - $45.00 per ERU
An ERU, Equivlanet Residential Unit, equal 1,425 square feet. For example, the fee for a Non-Residential property with 14,250 square feet of impervious area would be $450.00. 14,250 sq ft/1,425 sq ft = 1- ERU's; 10 ERU's x $45.00 = $450.00
Credits may be available if one would implement or construct Low Impact Development methods or techniques. Low Impact Development (LID) emphasizes conservation and use of on-site natural features to protect water quality. Examples of LID techniques include permeable pavers, green roofs, green alleys, rain barrells and rain gardens.