Some residents of Rockingham County could have a new fee on their real estate tax bills this year.
The Lake Shenandoah Stormwater Control Authority, made up of the Board of Supervisors, voted Wednesday to move forward with a proposed fee structure for land in the Lake Shenandoah Watershed, but the action does not set the rate in stone.
Under the proposal, effective Jan. 1, 2020, the average fee for property in the watershed will be $138 on each of the real estate bills due in June and December. The revenue would fund projects tackling stormwater issues.
The average total estimated annual fee is expected to be $276.19 per account, but is subject to change, as a public hearing will be held March 25 regarding the fees. Lisa Perry, director of environmental services, said the median fee could be $219.55, and town homes owners could pay $80 a year.
“This is the rate we recommend you advertise,” County Administrator Stephen King said. “The goal is to keep [the fee] where it is and not change it over time.”
Fees were calculated based on rooftop square footage.
Another method using all impervious areas — including roofs, driveways, patios and parking lots — was also considered, but staff recommended using the rooftop method, with fees at 10 cents per square foot.
Perry said 10 cents per square foot was justified after looking at preliminary estimates, accounting for inflation and based on the number looked at for total square footage of all rooftops.
“Ten cents gets to the target amount we need,” Perry said, but she could not provide an estimated target amount Wednesday.
Those who would be billed are property owners located within the watershed of Lake Shenandoah, including, but not limited to: Barrington Subdivision, Briarcrest Subdivision, Bridlewood Subdivision, Chestnut Ridge Subdivision, Congers Creek Subdivision, Crescent Ridge Subdivision, Cullison Creek Subdivision, Hamlet Hill Estates, Highland Park Subdivision, Kentshire Subdivision, Lake Pointe Subdivision, Lake Pointe Village Subdivision, Lake View Golf Course, Lakewood Subdivision, Massanetta Springs Conference Center, Massanetta Springs Cottage Community, Preston Lake Subdivision, Quarles Business Park, Spring Oaks Subdivision, Sunnyside Retirement Community, Taylor Grove Developments I and II, Taylor Spring Subdivision, Town and Country Landing and Wellstone Subdivision.
The northern boundary is set by Harrisonburg-Rockingham County line with approximately 0.73 miles of boundary on the southwest side of Spotswood Trail and roughly 0.34 miles on the northeast side of Spotswood Trail.
King said the fee would be included on the real estate bill, but listed as a separate item.
County Attorney Thomas Miller said during the Jan. 8 meeting that homeowners who have a mortgage would probably have the fee included in the deed of the property, making the total fee divided by 12 months and included in the monthly mortgage.
A discussion was had during Wednesday’s meeting about whether agricultural structures should be exempt from the stormwater fee.
Of the over 2,000 structures in the Lake Shenandoah Watershed, only 11 buildings are classified as agricultural structures.
Due to the structures usually being located in a field or farm area, and not directly connected into the flow path of an urban stormwater drainage system, and tending to be large, they would generate a high fee per structure.
The authority agreed to not exempt agricultural structures at this time.
Perry said the authority would mail out letters to those owning property in the watershed to notify them of the potential fees, along with updated information about what the authority has been doing since being formed in August.
Other items for the authority’s consideration included accepting a proposal from The Timmons Group for engineering services for the Lake Shenandoah Stormwater Control Authority flood mitigation projects.
The Timmons Group proposal, for the amount of $51,970, included modeling hydrologic and hydraulic characteristics of the watershed, evaluating mitigation strategies for cost and benefit ratios and meeting with county staff to discuss all findings.
The proposal would not include construction drawings due to the difficultly in estimating the cost of construction drawings prior to a specific mitigation strategy being selected, according to an authority memo.
The authority unanimously voted to accept the proposal.