Nordonia Hills -- Property owners in Macedonia, Northfield Village and Sagamore Hills can expect to see a new charge on their sewer bills in the new year.
Beginning Jan. 1, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District customers will start seeing a separate line item on their bills, a fee to pay for the NEORSD's long-planned stormwater management program, said NEORSD spokeswoman Jennifer Elting.
"All the money will be used for stormwater projects," said Elting.
Due to a Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas ruling last year, Northfield Center property owners are not subject to the fee.
Elting said the fee amount depends on how much impervious surface a property has, including rooftops, driveways and patios. She said residential properties fall into one of three tiers, with the bulk of the properties in Tier 2, which is 2,000 to 4,000 square feet of impervious surface. Tier 2 property owners will be billed $5.05 monthly or $15.15 per quarter. The fee for Tier 1 residential properties, less than 2,000 square feet of impervious surface, is $3.03 monthly or $9.09 quarterly, and Tier 3 properties, more than 4,000 square feet, will be billed $9.09 monthly or $27.27 quarterly.
Commercial properties will be billed $5.05 monthly per equivalent residential unit, or 3,000 square feet of impervious. Property owners can get reductions of their fees for taking actions that mitigate stormwater as part of a credit program. These can include installing rain barrels and rain gardens or disconnecting downspouts and running water into a rain garden or across grass. See www.neorsd.org/stormwater for more information.
The NEORSD sent out letters at the beginning of December informing customers of the increase. Elting said notices were sent to an estimated 3,450 residential and 350 non-residential customers in Macedonia, and 1,100 and 2,750 residential customers respectively in Northfield Village and Sagamore Hills, with about 150 non-residential customers each in the village and township.
Sagamore Hills resident Kenneth Grigas said he and several neighbors are upset about the fee and after he received the letter he called the NEORSD to complain. Grigas said he has a cistern that collects rainwater and provides all his needs and that water flows off his property into a "valley" behind his home where it sinks into the ground. He said he is getting a 25 percent reduction off his fee, but believes that he should not be billed for anything unless the NEORSD can prove that his property is contributing to stormwater issues.
"You're assessing me a fee for something that you can't even show me I'm a part of," Grigas said he told the NEORSD.
Homeowners can also go to www.neorsd.org/findmyfee to determine what tier their property falls in and what their fee will be.
Elting said the district is estimating that about $35 million will be raised annually across the 56-community district, with 25 percent returned to the communities for their own stormwater related projects.
She said preliminary estimates of annual returns to the communities include about $212,000 for Macedonia, about $50,000 for Northfield Village and about $100,000 for Sagamore Hills.
Elting said the money can be used for equipment purchases, construction of detention and retention basins, culverts and other infrastructure, maintenance of existing systems.
Locally, said Elting, the NEORSD itself is looking at some kind of erosion control project along Indian Creek in Macedonia, but this is only in the preliminary planning stage.
Mayor Don Kuchta said this is fine, but more should be done.
"Erosion control along Indian Creek is all well and good, but there are projects we would like done that hold back water from reaching Indian Creek," he said.
City Building Commissioner Mike Hlad said the top priority for the city is meeting an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requirement that the city map its entire stormwater infrastructure system.
"That's going to be the first year and then we're going to prioritize what we're going to do," he said.
Hlad said the city is expected to host a public informational meeting with NEORSD representatives within the first three months of 2013.
Northfield Village Engineer Richard Wasosky said the village is not currently considering any capital projects.
"Right now, we're looking at using it for maintenance," said Wasosky, adding that this includes cleaning catch basins, flushing out stormwater sewer lines and, if it's determined to be needed, erosion control along several small streams in residential areas along the west side of Route 8.
"After we do maintenance, we'll see what's left over and then determine if there are any capital projects we can do," said Wasosky.
Sagamore Hills township attorney Jeff Snell said the money is not expected to be distributed for a year and it can accumulate for as long as five years before it needs to be spent.
"I think the township will spend the next year looking at what funds are going to be there and what can be done with them," he said.