(Northampton, MA) — Northampton is one step closer to establishing a new stormwater utility fee for property owners. The city’s Ordinance Committee unanimously recommended the measure Tuesday night. The fee would pay for much-need repairs to the city’s stormwater and flood control systems, initially raising up to 2-million per year. The investment is needed because of new mandates and regulations from FEMA, the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers.
Under the plan emerging from the Board of Public Works, non-profit, commercial, and residential property owners would all receive bills in the mail. The impetus was to be fair by basing the bill upon the amount of runoff a property generates. Every parcel in the city will be evaluated for its impervious surfaces, including parking lots, driveways, and rooftops.
Credits would be available for improvements that handle storm water on site. Residential properties would be divided into three categories.
Farmers would be assessed a small flat fee, regardless of how many parcels they own.
One issue that remained unresolved was a last-minute amendment by Councilor Jesse Adams. So-called “Amendment M” would ensure the money never gets used to pad the general budget. The Adams amendment was sent to the City Council without a recommendation so the full body can debate its merits.
The Council will take up the matter of the storm water utility fee when it meets March 6th.