Drainage Rates Now Include a Capital Improvement Program
On Dec. 5, the Round Rock City Council approved an adjustment in the Drainage Utility rate to $4.75 per month per ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit). The new rate, which goes into effect March 1, is needed to fund increased maintenance, state and federal compliance costs and, most importantly, a new drainage Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Up to this point, the drainage system did not have a dedicated funding source for repairs or capital improvements. The drainage CIP plan is a continually updated plan that groups and prioritizes projects in three categories: Creek, Street and Heavy Maintenance.
Types of Projects
Creek projects typically involve flood relief projects that protect life and property by minimizing the occurrence of creeks overtopping their banks and/or roadways. Street projects usually involve adding storm drain inlets and pipes in older areas that were built before modern standards were in place and thus may not have the infrastructure in place to handle typical storms. Heavy maintenance projects primarily focus on repairing deterioration in existing drainage ways due to erosion caused by upstream development and drought-driven vegetation loss.
Projects will be prioritized first by those having the greatest impact in protecting life and enhancing safety and second by those that can most cost-effectively make the most significant impact. While many of creek flood relief projects will start the design process first, the scale, complexity and federal permitting challenges associated with those projects likely means that construction will actually occur after some less complex projects are completed.
The City has identified more than $30 million of Creek projects that would reduce flooding. These projects alone will outstrip the capacity of the recent rate increase so staff is working with area partners such as the Upper Brushy Creek Water Control and Improvement District to leverage the new funds and maximize their impacts. Staff will also pursue grant opportunities.
The drainage utility fee considers a property’s impervious area which is the total area covered by materials such as asphalt, concrete, brick, stone and compacted surfaces which reduce infiltration of precipitation. The amount of impervious area on a property directly impacts how much storm water runs off the property and enters the City’s drainage system. The following two properties are similar in size; however the one to the left has considerably more impervious area, thus a higher drainage utility fee.
Drainage Rates Effective March 1, 2014
Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU)
|Residential ||$4.75 per dwelling unit ||City Avg. 2,900 sq. ft.|
|Non-Residential ||$1.64 per 1000 sq. ft. || |
Customers will see the new rate on their bill in April: single-family residential customers will be charged $4.75 while non-residential, commercial, industrial and multi-family properties will be billed at the equivalent $1.64 per 1,000 square feet of impervious area.
The drainage utility fees will be billed to all properties located within the City limits. Citizens or property owners that do not have any other utility services with the City will receive a drainage only bill.
Financial Management Policy
More than 60 cities in Texas have established a Drainage Utility to ensure consistent funding for regulatory compliance, environmental preservation and – most importantly – protection of life and property from flood damage.
A Drainage Utility meets the community’s financial objectives in two important ways. First, it aligns with our citizen’s preference for user fee-based program funding, where service costs are paid for by those who use and benefit the most. Second, it aligns with the City’s adopted financial policy which has a primary objective to reduce general fund reliance on volatile sales tax revenue to fund basic services.
Revenue from the Drainage Utility will provide stable funding for operations and maintenance of existing drainage infrastructure as well as help offset program costs associated with state and federal regulation compliance.