Flood Mitigation Fee

A MESSAGE FROM THE BOROUGH OF PLUM:

Too many Borough property owners lose thousands of dollars each year due to flooding.  Only a portion of these losses might be recovered through the Federal Flood Insurance Program and the Flood Insurance Program only covers properties located within the federally identified “flood zones.”  Not all properties are eligible for Federal Flood Insurance.

Many properties in Plum are constructed too close to streams and creeks, and other properties experience flooding due to upstream development and/or insufficient storm water management controls (pipes, catch basins, retention ponds, etc.).  These Storm Water Management Controls were not really used in new developments until the 1960-1970’s and those that were constructed are inadequate or too old now to prevent damage.

Like many communities in our area, Plum Borough only adopted its first comprehensive Storm Water Management Ordinance 20-25 years ago (1992) to help control and prevent additional flooding.  Unfortunately, of the more than 12,000 properties in Plum, only 10% were constructed after these storm water regulations were adopted.  Consequently, 90% of the Borough has inadequate, deteriorating or non-existent pipes, catch basins, culverts and retention ponds.  

Over the past 25 years, expenses for storm water have increased more than 2,000%!  In 1995 the Borough budgeted $50,000 for all expenses related to these storm water management controls or about 0.08% of the total budget.  At that time, the total amount of money spent on all public infrastructure (roads, paving, etc.) was just under $1,900,000.  2.6% of all expenses for public infrastructure was spent on storm controls.  Then, in 1999 new federal regulations went into effect regarding storm water runoff and municipalities are now required to obtain permits and develop a storm water management program for all streets, ditches, pipes, etc. that are owned by the municipality to prevent pollutants from being washed or dumped into local waterways.

In addition, the Borough is responsible for educating the public about storm water impacts, constructing storm water runoff controls to reduce and eliminate pollutants and test for and submit annual reports regarding the levels of pollutants discharged in the streams of our community.  As a result of all of this, in 2015, storm water expenses are now 8% of the total Borough spending and 28% of all expenses for public infrastructure!  2015 Borough expenses for storm water construction, maintenance and related expenses are now $1,200,000.

To pay for this massive increase in expenses, the Borough has implemented a Flood Mitigation Fee of $5.00 per month for each household or “Equivalent Residential Unit” (ERU).  An ERU is equal to 2,500 square feet and is based on the average amount of impervious surface generated by a residence in Plum.  All residences are charged at the rate of one ERU and apartments are charged at a rate of $3.00 per month.  Businesses are charged based on the total amount of impervious surface in number of ERU’s (i.e. a business with 5,000 SF would be charged 2 ERU’s). 

The Borough chose to fund these expenses as a fee and not a tax is because the tax structure does not take into account how much impervious surface a particular property has; a low assessed property can contribute significantly to the water runoff problem, while a very high assessed property may contribute very little.  Implementing it as a fee also levels the playing field and requires entities that do not pay taxes to help fix this problem.  100% of the funds collected via the Flood Mitigation Fee are maintained in a separate fund/account to be used exclusively for the construction, repair, maintenance and monitoring of storm pipes, catch basins, retention ponds and other storm water-related infrastructure. 

The $5/per month per household fee will be on the water/sewage bill.  The most recent water/sewage bill reflects January, February and March for a total of $15; moving forward the fee will be $5/month.  There is no discount for senior citizens.  Apartments are charged at a rate of $3/month.  Commercial property is based on the size of the property; maximum fee to be charged is $50 per month.