Sugar Land considers new water bill for storm water and drainage

Starting in January, Sugar Land residents and business owners could have a new levy on their water bill. City officials are considering a stormwater compliance fee that would cost most residents about $3 a month.

Sugar Land officials proposed the new fees in their 2023 budget to pay for the cost of complying with state rules on operating a Texas Environmental Quality Commission sewer system. .

Charged to most residential and commercial properties within the city limits, the fee would provide a reliable source of revenue for the operation of the city’s stormwater management program. The stormwater management program has so far been funded from the city’s general fund.

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“The TCEQ’s unfunded mandates have been included in the general fund,” said Doug Adolph, Communications Manager for the Town of Sugar Land. “The proposed fees provide greater transparency and a more sustainable source of funding. It also responds to one of the city council’s orientations to seek alternative sources of revenue to fund citizens’ priorities, such as drainage.

The cost of the stormwater management program is approximately $2.2 million, which is the amount the new budget’s compliance fee model would generate over a 12-month period.

Stormwater compliance fees are determined by the amount of impermeable area on a property, which directly impacts the amount of water that drains from that property into city sewers. Impervious cover refers to artificial surfaces that do not absorb precipitation because they are covered with materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick, etc. This includes roofs, patios, driveways, sidewalks and roads.

For a 3,500 square foot Sugar Land residence, the monthly stormwater compliance fee would be $3, which totals approximately $36 per year. Tenants and landlords would be charged.

A small commercial business on a 25,000 square foot lot, like a Whataburger, would be charged around $18 per month. Large commercial businesses occupying 800,000 square feet can expect a stormwater compliance fee of around $576. Municipal properties, universities, religious organizations and school districts will not be required to pay stormwater compliance fees.

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Neighboring towns handle the fee in different ways. The average residential stormwater compliance fee in the City of Houston is $11 per month. Pearland is also considering the introduction of stormwater compliance fees. Other cities in Fort Bend include this required funding in their general fund.

“Our stormwater management program is a regulatory requirement currently included in our general fund,” said Mayor Joe Zimmerman. “Not only does the fee cover this unfunded mandate, it also addresses drainage, identified by our residents as a top priority in the city’s most recent Citizen Satisfaction Survey. We believe the proposed fee is a better way to match income with expenses The City of Sugar Land continues to provide a high level of service to our residents while maintaining one of the lowest tax rates for cities our size.

For more information on the proposed fees, see sugarlandtx.gov.

Rachel J. Bradford