The conversation about how the stormwater systems are paid for in the city is on its way back to Grande Prairie City Council next week.
While stormwater systems are currently currently paid through tax dollars, the proposed payment change uses a similar model to other municipalities across the province, where instead of a blanket payment it would be pay by use, like other utility services such as water and power.
“The issue with the current model is how much you pay for stormwater is only based on how much your property is worth,” says Grande Prairie Councillor Dylan Bressey. “It’s not based on anything like how much hard surface you have, or how much water comes off of your property.”
He adds the new model would see some properties paying more, and others would pay less than they are right now. For example, a property with a larger parking lot will be using more of the stormwater services than a lot with just a house on it. Bressey says the argument that could be made is the property using more of the service should pay more.
Right now the city spends around $7.5 million on stormwater services which is around six per cent of the city’s property tax.
“I hear again and again and again from residents that they want our property taxes to be in line with what people pay in other municipalities. Well, that means that our revenue sources also have to be in line with it, and if we are comparing ourselves to municipalities where they save on property taxes but they charge a stormwater utility fee – well if we want to get our taxes in line with those people then we are also going to have to get our revenue in line with them.”
Bressey says another reason to make the change is some people own property in the city and take the initiative to contain the stormwater on their property which helps save the city’s stormwater system. He adds,, there is an argument to be made these people should get a credit for using less stormwater services, which they would receive under a stormwater utility model.
Back in August the city held a public consultation about changing to the stormwater utility model. The proposed changes are expected to be put before city council on Monday, but Bressey says they are still “months and months and months away” from making a decision. However if council decides to move forward with the utility model, it will be a revenue neutral decision.