Fort Mill Times

New Fort Mill stormwater fee will be added to tax bills

Fort Mill Town Council approved the new $72 annual stormwater fee last week, setting up a funding mechanism for a host of state-required stormwater control measures.

“This is a requirement,” said Councilwoman Guynn Savage, echoing a sentiment she’s stressed for months’ worth of stormwater discussion. “The town must comply.”

Council voted unanimously at the June 23 meeting to approve the cost. The only discussion centered on how to collect it. The town will put the fee – $72 per home and a multiple of that number for commercial space depending on size – on residents’ annual tax bills.

Councilman Tom Spratt said property he owns in Rock Hill charges a monthly bill, which for Fort Mill’s new fee would come to $6 per month. He asked if that monthly cost might be more manageable for residents than $72 all at once.

Dennis Pieper, town manager, said Rock Hill has additional ways to get a monthly bill out with utilities. Fort Mill would have to figure out how to send out monthly bills and how they would be collected and filed. The annual tax bill approach also brings an estimated 95 percent collection rate which could be 20 percent higher, he said, than what the town might expect with regular monthly billing.

Council also noted neighboring stormwater bills of $96 annually in Tega Cay, but only $45 in Rock Hill.

“The fee structure compared to our neighbors surprised me,” Spratt said.

Stormwater fees include all developed properties. They also cover varying state requirements based on the size of municipalities and their proximity to streams or water bodies. The lower fee in Rock Hill, Pieper said, is largely due to the makeup of that community versus Fort Mill.

“They’ve got a lot more commercial buildings,” he said.

Paul Mitchell, engineering director with the town, expects the $72 annual rate in Fort Mill to hold steady through the five-year state stormwater permit that took effect in January.