Stormwater Fees Unfair


All FMB property owners will soon be assessed a stormwater management fee.    The current rate schedule is inherently unfair and encourages poor stormwater practices.  It uses the concept of equivalent stormwater unit, ESU, which is based on a statistical sampling of building footprint provided by the property appraiser for single-family parcels.  Building footprint is divided into tiers of small, medium, large and very large.  Added to each tier is an additional estimated impervious area to cover driveways, sidewalks, etc.  For example, the medium single-family tier is defined as properties with building footprint range of 1,401-3,400 sq ft. All properties in this range are assigned 1 ESU (4,414 sq ft), or $26.50/month. If a building footprint is 3,401 sq ft, it is 1.5 ESU (6,621) and owes $39.75/month. The tier system is unfair.  Because zoning requires significant setbacks for residential properties, most single-family parcels have pervious areas estimated to be about 60% of the parcel, which will absorb stormwater.  The ESU definition does not take pervious area into account.  There is no penalty for parcels having excessive paving.  The fee schedule does not discourage poor or encourage good stormwater practices.

Non-single-family parcels (all remaining parcels) are measured for actual impervious area in order to calculate stormwater assessments.  Many of these properties, particularly in commercial zones, have minimal setbacks and very little pervious area to absorb stormwater runoff.  Since ESU gives no credit for pervious area, these parcels are being under-assessed compared to single-family homes.

The current stormwater fees are unfair, particularly for single-family residential properties.  Every property should be measured for actual impervious area and credit given for pervious areas.  Properly engineered and maintained onsite stormwater management systems should be encouraged.

Check the proposed fee schedule on the Town website.  Compare your rates to other property owners.  If you do not like what you see, contact your Council representatives.

Tom Babcock

Fort Myers Beach