Frequently Asked Questions

ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

What is stormwater?

When it rains, stormwater runs off roof tops, parking lots, streets, yards, sidewalks and fields, carrying pollutants with it. This is most frequently described as the water flowing along curb lines and into catch basin grates.  During large rain events, stormwater can cause flooding and erosion damaging property and wildlife habitat.

What stormwater services does Monmouth currently provide customers?

The City of Monmouth currently provides the following stormwater services to customers:

  • Residential leaf collection
  • Stormwater pipe maintenance and emergency repairs
  • Street sweeping
  • Response to hazardous spills
  • Sandbag stations
  • Limited pollution prevention education

What are the proposed stormwater rates for Monmouth?

The City Council is currently evaluating how much money is needed to provide the most efficient and equitable stormwater service.

The options for a stormwater rate that could go into effect later this year, include:

  • $11.90 per month that provides for the existing level of stormwater management service. This also frees dollars in the Street Fund to meet transportation-related needs.
  • $16.60 per month that provides funding for a higher level of customer service.
  • $25.70 per month that provides funding for a top level of stormwater management service.

Why is Monmouth proposing a new fee in the midst of COVID-19? 

Monmouth City Council has been considering a stormwater fee for two years.  There are a number of additional steps and time leading up to assessing this new fee.  Council is carefully considering the timing of implementing this new fee.  Implementation of the fee is not anticipated until later this year.  Concerns about the impact of COVID-19 is the primary driver of the current effort to ask Citizens for comments.  Council is looking to balance Citizen and Business financial concerns with the City's financial concerns as they proceed with a decision.

How is the stormwater program funded today? Why is Monmouth considering creating a separate stormwater utility and enacting a stormwater rate?

Currently, the stormwater program is funded by the Street Fund. Creating a separate stormwater utility means the program can be financially self-sufficient and our streets can be better maintained. All funds collected would be dedicated to the stormwater program, providing more accountability to the public.

Why doesn’t Monmouth treat stormwater? 

The City is not required by DEQ to treat stormwater.  The cost of constructing and operating a stormwater treatment facility would require a fee much higher than what is being proposed.  The second Level of Service option being considered by Council provides for public education, and staff time preventing pollution from entering the stormwater system.  This is offered as a fair balance between treatment (pollution prevention) and the high cost of a treatment plant.

Why is street sweeping a stormwater function? 

Street sweeping is intended to pick up sediment, litter, leaves (nutrients), and other pollutants before they are carried by stormwater runoff into the stormwater system.  This is a pollution prevention or treatment effort by keeping these various pollutants out of the stormwater system and our local creeks.   Sweeping is also intended to keep larger debris like leaves and litter from covering over catch basins causing localized flooding during rain events.

Do other communities in Oregon charge for stormwater services?  (How much?)

More than 40 other Oregon communities charge a separate stormwater fee. For a single- family residential homeowner, the service charge in a couple local area cities are: Salem $16.41; Independence $13.26; Corvallis $9.29; Dallas $5.00  The City’s two proposed rates are based on the actual cost of providing a specific Level of Service.  The lower of the two proposed rates is what we spend on stormwater services today -- no new programs.  Council wants to know if citizens believe we should be more proactive in maintaining our existing facilities and reducing pollution.

Why should I pay a fee if I don’t have any flooding issues in my neighborhood?

Monmouth has done a good job of using the limited funds for stormwater activities while fixing the most pressing localized issues.  Council recognizes the gap between limited funds and the cost of maintaining the system has exceeded a sustainable level.  Deferring maintenance of the stormwater system will result in more frequent and wide spread localized flooding as pipes collapse, fail, or get clogged with roots and debris. Parts of town that historically haven’t experience flooding issues will.  Two of the projects identified as priorities in this new utility's Capital Improvement Program address existing localized flooding issues. 

What will happen if Monmouth doesn’t enact a Stormwater Utility and fee?

Currently all transportation and stormwater operation and maintenance activities are funded with gas tax revenue from the State.  The gas tax revenue has not kept pace with the increasing cost of operating and maintaining our roadways and stormwater system.  The City has steadily reduced services over the years to keep our operating costs within budget.  Without the implementation of the stormwater fee, the City will need to make important decisions on what additional services to cut.  To ensure that gas tax revenue is directed toward its intended purpose of maintaining roadways, important stormwater activities like street sweeping and leaf pickup will be reduced further or cut all together.

How will the City use the money?

All funds collected will be dedicated to the stormwater program. Funds will be used to provide stormwater services that address the most pressing stormwater needs for the community. 

What specific projects are planned for the stormwater utility?

Projects plan over the next five years include:

  • providing emergency overflow for the residential area near Maxwell Avenue
  • piping the open ditch near Madrona Park to address frequent maintenance issues
  • correcting flooding that impacts Western Oregon University property

Are there any State or Federal grants to pay for the operation and maintenance of the City’s stormwater system?

Nearly all of the limited State and Federal grants are dedicated to the construction of facilities that reduce the negative impact of stormwater runoff on the environment.  State and Federal grants are also dedicated to correcting existing large scale flooding conditions that cause private property damage.  There are no State or Federal grants dedicated to the ongoing operation and maintenance of stormwater systems.