MSD stormwater-service rate to remain same; board votes to defer hike

Staff Report

Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District customers will continue to pay this year’s stormwater-service rate through 2010.

The MSD Board of Trustees voted unanimously last week to defer a three-cent stormwater-service rate increase that was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Customers currently pay 14 cents a month per 100 square feet of impervious area.

That rate was expected to increase next year to 17 cents a month per 100 square feet of impervious area, but MSD officials have determined the total amount of impervious area within the district has increased. Therefore, even with no rate increase next year, MSD will be able to meet revenue projections and carry out stormwater projects.

“Our feeling is … under the current economic times, if you can avoid a rate increase, you do that,” MSD spokesman Lance LeComb said. “We are still meeting the projections. We’re still doing what we set out to do in terms of stormwater.”

Before early 2008, stormwater services were funded by a 24-cent monthly charge on each MSD bill and through a variety of property taxes.

Then, on March 1, 2008, MSD began charging all customers 12 cents per 100 square feet of impervious area.

Impervious property includes such non-absorbent property as driveways, roofs, garages and parking lots.

The charge rose to 14 cents Jan. 1 of this year.

MSD officials tentatively anticipate increasing the stormwater-service fee to 22 cents per month in 2011, but that amount could change once the district reviews stormwater revenue projections again next year, LeComb said.

The fee is expected to cap at 29 cents a month by 2014.

A state law enacted earlier this year exempts those who do not receive MSD’s sanitary sewer services and whose stormwater does not go directly into an MSD sewer from paying the monthly stormwater-service fee. The district stopped billing those individuals in September.

The fee also has been challenged in court.

Chesterfield resident William Zweig filed suit in August 2008, alleging the fee violates the Missouri Constitution’s Hancock Amendment because the district imposed it without voter approval.

Zweig’s lawsuit also seeks permission from St. Louis County Circuit Court to make it into a class-action lawsuit for all district customers. He wants the court to halt collection of the fee and require MSD to refund money already collected from it.

The case, which in little more than a year has changed judges several times, is expected to go to trial in April, LeComb said.