Stormwater Service District
On April 28, 2015, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved an increase in the Stormwater Service District tax for fiscal year 2016 from $0.0225 per $100 of assessed real estate value to $0.025 (two and one half cents) per $100 of assessed real estate value. The Stormwater Service District was established by the Board in Fiscal Year 2010. Stricter regulatory requirements and essential reinvestment in the county's aging infrastructure resulted in the need to establish a funding mechanism that was independent of the general fund.
This year, the Board adopted a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) that includes a one quarter cent increase in the stormwater tax for each of the next five years. The stormwater service district includes Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna. Federal government property and the City of Fairfax are excluded from the district.
The Capital Improvement Program document states: “Stormwater staff evaluated the required future funding levels to meet the increasing federal and state regulatory requirements pertaining to the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit, and state and federal clean water mandates associated with the Chesapeake Bay. Staff developed and recommended a long term funding and staffing plan that was presented to the Board’s Environmental Committee.
It is anticipated that this long range plan will include a five-year rate plan, a phased approach for funding and staffing, and public education to support the anticipated regulatory increases. The CIP assumes that the plan will include an annual increase of one quarter penny on the Stormwater Service District rate through FY 2019.”
Stormwater funding is essential to protect public safety, preserve property values and support environmental mandates, such as those that protect local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.
- Water quality improvements such as stream stabilization and rehabilitation (completed projects may be seen at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/stormwater/projects/project_list.htm).
- Safety upgrades of dams, repair and replacement of underground pipe systems and surface channels, structural flood proofing and site retrofits.
- Increased public education efforts and stormwater monitoring activities.
- Improved infrastructure reinvestment cycles, and increased capital project implementation to responsibly manage stormwater runoff within Fairfax County, while maintaining compliance with increasing regulatory and operational requirements.
Much of Fairfax County developed from the 1950s through the 1970s, prior to requirements for stormwater controls. Prior to fiscal year 2010, the county’s stormwater management program had been supported by the general fund.
With the passage of the Clean Water Act, stricter state and federal regulations have been enacted that address the quality and quantity of stormwater runoff that flows to the Chesapeake Bay.
In addition, there are more than 1,500 miles of county-owned stormwater pipes valued at more than one billion dollars. Approximately 250 miles of these pipes are more than 40 years old. As the system ages, the county must reinvest in its stormwater infrastructure to help prevent flooding and environmental damage.
Average Annual Cost
Based on the average assessment of $598,711 (as of February 2014) a detached, single family property owner will pay $11.23 per month, or $134.71 annually. One half of the annual amount is due in December; the second half of the annual amount is due in June.
If a property tax bill is sent directly to a mortgage company, the stormwater tax will be paid as part of the real estate tax payment. Unlike a utility, in many cases the stormwater service district tax may be claimed as a deductible expense on income tax returns.
How Funding is Used
To improve, operate and maintain the county's stormwater system:
- Routine maintenance includes repairing failed and failing stormwater systems and removing debris from the system to prevent flooding.
To meet state and federal regulatory requirements:
- The county owns and is required to inspect and maintain more than 1,500 miles of pipe and paved channels; 42,000 stormwater structures; and 1,300 stormwater management facilities.
- The county is required to perform annual inspections of approximately 3,000 private stormwater management facilities.
To meet state dam safety regulations:
- More stringent Virginia dam safety regulations have increased the requirements for more frequent inspections and performance standards for state-regulated dams.
To meet state and federal water quality requirements and standards:
- The commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency require localities to take significant additional steps to reduce the impact of urban stormwater runoff through the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit, known as MS4.
- The MS4 permit requires compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System based on the Clean Water Act of 1987.
More information about the county's MS4 permit and annual reports may be seen at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/stormwater/ms4permit.htm.
For more information about the Fairfax County Stormwater Tax District, call the Stormwater Planning Division at 703-324-5500, TTY 711, or email.