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Midwest City approves new method to calculate stormwater fees

Carrie Evenson, assistant public works director, and Paul Streets, public works director, give a presentation on proposed changes to Midwest City’s stormwater fees. Photo by Jeff Harrison

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

Midwest City is changing the way it calculates stormwater drainage fees.

Customers currently pay stormwater fees based on the size of their water meter.

The city is moving to a new method that calculates stormwater fees based on the amount of impervious area on each property. Impervious area is any hard surface that impedes water from seeping into the ground such as rooftops and pavement.

The new method will not increase costs for residential customers but may increase costs for commercial businesses.

Paul Streets, Public Works Director, believes the current formula is problematic because the amount of water used by a customer is not a direct indication of the amount of stormwater runoff or

pollution that a customer’s property generates.

“Water meter size has very little to do with the stormwater and drainage impact,” Streets said.

Other cities in Oklahoma including Edmond, Broken Arrow and Tulsa use the impervious area method for calculating stormwater fees. Oklahoma City uses water meter size to calculate stormwater fees, but has much higher rates than Midwest City, according to city staff.

The impervious area will be calculated using the Equivalent Service Unit method. An ESU is calculated by determining the average impervious surface area for a typical single-family residential property. Each single-family residential property is billed at a flat rate based on a single ESU. For non-residential properties, the impervious surface is calculated using an aerial image and divided by the area of an ESU.

Employees with public works and Freese and Nichols Inc., a consultant hired by the city, determined the impervious surface area for a typical single family residential property in Midwest City is 2,860 square feet and will be equal to one ESU. The rate for one ESU will be set at $2.42, the current fee for customers with a 5/8-inch meter.

Nonresidential customers, apartment complexes and manufactured home parks that are not individually metered will be assessed a stormwater fee based on the number of ESU each property has.

“About 15 years ago we wanted to find a system to charge customers based on their impact but we didn’t have the information or support or systems in place to really do that until now,” Streets said.
Residential properties currently make up about 54% of the impervious area in Midwest City but provide about 76% of the current stormwater utility fee revenue. Under the new fee structure, residential customers will pay about 46% of the fees and commercial properties will pay about 54%.

Ward 5 councilmember Sara Bana agreed with the proposal saying it was an “easy item” to support.

“I’m just not sure why we didn’t do this years ago,” she said.

Ward 4 councilmember Sean Reed said that as a local business owner he understands the impact it could have for commercial properties.

“As a business owner this will impact my pocketbook, and I’m 100% for it,” he said. “I have had the conversation for years that we’re paying way too little for commercial. I didn’t complain about it when it was too little and I’m not going to complain about it when it’s right.”

The council unanimously approved the ordinance.

The changes will take effect May 1.

The fees fund Stormwater Quality Division of Public Works.

 

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