Stormwater Utility Billing FAQ

How do I read my bill?

Under the current rate structure, properties are assigned to one of five tiers (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) based on the use of the property and the amount of impact. The fees are charged on a monthly basis, but are billed on a yearly basis so the fee you will see is for one year. 

How were the rates established?

The Town looked at six other jurisdictions similar in size who already have Stormwater Utility Fees implemented and came up with a number for each tier based on the budgetary requirements of the Town's stormwater program. 

Were other options considered to pay for the Town's stormwater program and needed improvements to the storm drainage infrastructure?

Yes. The Black Mountain Town Council considered various options and chose the the stormwater utility fee as the preferred funding method. Most cities and towns favor the utility fee for funding the stormwater programs because it is considered to be the most reliable and cost-effective way to meet the funding requirements of federal stormwater regulations. As a utility, all fee revenue collected is solely dedicated to stormwater programs and is not used for any other Town programs. 

Is the stormwater fee a tax?

No. the stormwater fee is a utility like your gas, electric, or water utility. 

Is the Town charging residents for rain? 

While the stormwater program is in place to manage the pollution carried by stormwater runoff, the fee is in no way related to the amount of rain that falls. The fee is in place to fund the ongoing maintenance and capital improvements to the entire public storm drainage infrastructure, as well as other water quality improvement and flood hazard mitigation programs. 

Hasn't the Town always had storm drains?

The Town has had storm drains for a long time. However, the federal regulations that require a comprehensive stormwater quality management program are relatively new and have only been effective since 1994. The utility fee enables the Town to meet its responsibilities to closely manage the storm drain system, study the contents of stormwater, seek out and eliminate illicit discharge connections and illegal dumping, enforce codes more strictly, and facilitate public awareness. 

Am I still charged even it if does not rain for a long time?

Because stormwater charges are not based upon the frequency or amount of rainfall received, the stormwater fee is administered regardless of rainfall. Whether the Town is experiencing drought conditions or torrential rains, ongoing efforts to maintain and implement capital improvements to the entire public storm drainage infrastructure continue while the stormwater fee remains the same.

What's the difference between stormwater and sewer charges? 

The stormwater charge supports programs to reduce or eliminate the pollution of stormwater runoff from residences and businesses. Wastewater charges cover sewage disposal that results from your use of drinking water. The charges are for treatment of the wastewater from your home or business. The stormwater and wastewater systems are separate systems. 

I rent my house. Why am I being charged?

Responsibility for utility services is assigned by the Town to the owner of the property. While the owner is generally assigned responsibilty for utility service costs the owner can choose to pass costs on to tenants. 

How is unoccupied property treated? 

In general, unoccupied properties are charged the same as occupied properties because they generate runoff similar to that generated by occupied property. 

What happens if I don't pay my bill?

You risk having the bill sent to collections. 

I have a gravel driveway and no gutter lines that go to the street. Why do I have to pay for everyone else? 

Gravel is an impervious surface. Like concrete or asphalt, it functions as a barrier to water absorption and places a demand on the storm drainage infrastructure. This demand is what the stormwater fee pays for. 

Why are churches and other tax exempts required to pay?

All properties within the Town that are not owned by the Town, County, State, or United States is charged a stormwater utility fee. 

How can I be exempted from the stormwater fee?

The only properties exempt from stormwater utility charges are those owned by the Town, County, State, or United States and those properties that are undeveloped that have no development and remain in their natural, vegetative state. All other property owners cannot be exempted unless they remove all structures and other impervious materials from the property, and re-seed and re-plant it, returning a parcel to its natural state. 

I live in a multi-family residential housing complex with a private street and privately owned storm drains. Why do I have to pay the stormwater fee if the Town doesn't service our private storm drains?

The stormwater fee is collected for the purpose of maintaining the Town's public storm drainage system. In general, all residents whose properties place demands on the public drainage infrastructure are assessed a stormwater fee. While a residential complex may have a private drainage system, the stormwater runoff is still conveyed tot he public drainage system. The Town is then responsible for managing this runoff through the public infrastructure. 

I live in a subdivision with a storm drain that drains into a ditch.  Why do I pay a stormwater fee if the Town isn't collecting the rainwater?

The Town's stormwater conveyance system includes much more than storm drains. Ditches, curbs, gutters, culverts and open stream channels all make up the town-wide drainage system that conveys stormwater runoff away from structures and sites in a manner that minimizes the potential for flooding and erosion to properties. The Town is responsible for maintaining the entire man-made and natural public conveyance system. 

The property I live on has a detention pond that collects all of our stormwater runoff. Why is the Town still charging me a stormwater fee?

 A detention pond is one example of a stormwater SCM (stormwater control measure) that serves to significantly reduce the amount of stormwater pollutants that exit a property. Depending on the type of development, the Town may recommend or require the construction of a SCM to help manage stormwater runoff and improve water quality. However, as beneficial as these devices may be, the effectiveness is not absolute and pollutants generally still exit a property depending on a number of factors, such as the intensity and duration of rainfall. While residents must still pay the stormwater fee, the Town does recognize the value of stormwater SCMs.