MSD board cuts $15 million from 2011 budget

More than $15 million in budget cuts recently were approved by the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District in response to a court ruling invalidating its impervious stormwater charge.

The board last month approved $15.5 million in cuts to the fiscal 2011 MSD budget.

The cuts, effective immediately, include $8.2 million from the district’s operating budget and $7.3 million from the stormwater capital budget, an MSD news release stated. No employees will be laid off.

A Lincoln County circuit court judge ruled in August that MSD’s 14-cent charge per 100 square feet of impervious area is a tax, not a user fee, that violates state law because district voters did not approve it.

Trustees shortly afterward approved legislation suspending the impervious charge and reinstating flat monthly fees and property taxes to fund stormwater services.

The district expected to collect $48 million in stormwater funding in fiscal 2011 with its impervious charge. Now that it is invalidated, the district is “severely limited” in its ability to respond to stormwater complaints, according to the release.

While customers who reside inside the Interstate 270 corridor will see limited stormwater service, customers who reside outside of I-270 will see “basically no stormwater service … due to limited taxes collected in that area,” the release stated.

In addition, limited stormwater projects are planned inside the I-270 loop, and no stormwater projects are planned outside I-270, the release stated.

MSD officials expect funding for stormwater projects to run out in June 2012.