Decision Points

New drainage utility fee goes into effect in March

A new drainage utility fee goes into effect with March utility bills. The fee is part of the City’s long-term effort to reduce its reliance on sales tax revenue and was approved by the City Council in November.

All single family residences will pay a flat fee of $2.75 per month. The fee for commercial, industrial and multi-family properties is calculated based on their amount of improved area – buildings, parking lots, driveways, etc. So if a commercial property has 10 times the improved area as compared to an average home, its fee would be $27.50 per month.

The City’s stormwater drainage program is designed to protect life and property from flood damage and keep runoff from polluting creeks and other waterways. The program had been paid for through general fund revenues like sales taxes and property taxes.

The City Council has been studying the concept for about a year. As part of its early budget deliberations in February 2010, as the economic downturn continued, the City Council asked staff to evaluate the appropriateness of a Drainage Utility.

More than 60 cities in Texas have created drainage utilities to ensure consistent funding for regulatory compliance, environmental preservation and protection of life and property from flood damage. A Drainage Utility also aligns with our citizens’ preference for user fee based program funding, where costs are paid for by those who use and benefit the most from the service.

Because Round Rock is one of the most sales tax dependent cities in Texas, the City Council in recent years has been systematically reducing our reliance on that revenue source for daily operations. For example, the City has paid cash for some one-time capital expenses to reduce our debt burden. Last year, the City Council decided the time had come to change how we fund the stormwater system due to declining sales tax revenues and increasing demands for other services funded by general revenues, such as police and fire protection.

Information on the Drainage Utility is available at roundrocktexas.gov/stormwater.

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