Silverthorne to set up stormwater management fund

Silverthorne is creating a fund specifically for stormwater management. Historically, money for necessary repairs and other stormwater needs came out of the town’s general fund.
Hugh Carey / |

SILVERTHORNE — Silverthorne is turning to property owners for a sustainable funding source for stormwater management needs. Council was in agreement that a stormwater management fund was needed, although there were differing opinions on how much people should be required to contribute to the fund.

Town finance director Laura Kennedy wrote in a memo to council that the function of a stormwater funding mechanism is to recover the costs of stormwater infrastructure, regulatory compliance, planning, maintenance, capital improvements, repair and replacement. She explained that Silverthorne currently funds stormwater management from taxes paid into the general fund, but there is competition from other municipal programs and that stormwater management improvements typically take a low priority. 

Kennedy recommended that the town determine stormwater revenue requirements, determine billing units for funding and calculate stormwater fees and exemptions to enact the stormwater management system. The proposed fee structure would use a flat fee for properties: $16.67 per month for commercial properties and $3.33 per month for residential properties. The fee structure chart calculated that residential properties would see a 4.3% increase in utility bills and commercial properties would see a 4.5% increase. It was also proposed that new customers (i.e., someone who purchases a building permit for a new building) would be charged $1,000 to start out. However, it was later decided the fee would be $500.

At the town council work session on Wednesday, Sept. 9, Kennedy compared drainage or stormwater fees in other Colorado jurisdictions, such as Englewood and Aurora, which charge $1.39 and $8.16 per month, respectively. Silverthorne’s proposed fees were around the middle of the pack. She said that the first few years’ needs in the long-range plan for wastewater management include tools and equipment that would help public works do a more efficient job of inspecting and clearing the culverts and ditches, staff time, quality monitoring of the Blue River and a study to determine impermeable areas of developed properties around town. 

“This will allow us to come up with a better plan,” Kennedy said, referring to the current method of pulling from the general fund. “Once this fund is established it will be part of the budget process and we’ll meet to talk about what projects take priority.”

Proposed drainage projects included increasing the capacity of the storm drain south of Highway 6, creating an alternate flow path to route drainage to the northeast along Fifth Street and creating a split flow path to route flood flows into the existing storm system along Annie Road.

Mayor Ann-Marie Sandquist said she was fine with the residential price. Council member Michael Spry wanted to make sure that a small building permit applicant for a deck expansion, for example, wouldn’t be subject to the fee. 

“Not all building permits are the same so I’d want to make sure that there’s some kind of formula that makes it a little bit equitable so that you can seperate the deck expansion from something that truly is going to create a drainage (issue),” Spry said. 

Kennedy said the fee could be set based on something like square footage to ensure that new buildings or structures that would create impervious surfaces were targeted rather than additions or remodels. 

Council member Kevin McDonald said he was struggling with the fairness of one-time fees as no one had to pay the originally proposed $1,000 in the past, but now new developments would have to. 

“As much as it costs to pull a permit around here, $1,000 on top of that, even though it helps the numbers, I think that’s too much,” McDonald said.

McDonald then suggested a $500 fee as an alternative. Other council members agreed that this price would be reasonable until other factors are assessed. Kennedy asked if McDonald would be open to a sliding scale, basing the fee on acreage or the new impermeable area of the project. McDonald said this would be the most fair way to impose the fee.

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