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CONYERS — Rockdale County officials are taking steps to remind property owners that new stormwater rates that became effective in January will be included on September property tax bills.

Rockdale Stormwater Management is notifying property owners of the new rates that were enacted in 2020. Residential property owners will pay an annual fee of $102 per property, while the rate for commercial properties is calculated based on the square footage of impervious surface.

The fees for the majority of residential property owners in Rockdale more than doubled this year — from $40.68 to $102 — to help pay for needed stormwater infrastructure repairs. Based on the Stormwater Rate Financial Model adopted by the county last year, the stormwater rates will continue to increase, reaching $162 a year by 2026.

Stormwater fees are used to fund operations and infrastructure improvements, rehabilitation and restoration of the county’s stormwater system, according to the county. The rates were formulated based on best practices recommended by the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission and a rate study conducted by engineering consultant Raftelis.

The rate increase was approved by commissioners after years of poor maintenance, along with torrential rains in 2019 that flooded roads and destroyed storm drains and culverts. Stormwater Management also needs funding to repair and replace more than 188 miles of piping and 18,900 drainage structures.

“Needing to maintain our stormwater infrastructure in our county is a very important service we provide to our residents and stakeholders,” said Marilyn Arnold, Stormwater Management customer service financial manager. “These rates will help us meet the monetary mark to complete current and future projects to make conditions safer as we improve our infrastructure.”

Prior to this year, the stormwater rate structure charged different amounts for properties throughout the county. While the majority of homeowners paid a $40.68 stormwater fee based on the measure of impervious surfaces on their property, some property owners paid less, while nonresidential property owners paid more.

Raftelis designed a simplified rate structure based on an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) of 4,205 square feet, the typical size of a Rockdale County home’s impervious surface. All single-family homes are now charged for one ERU. Multifamily housing and mobile homes are charged for one-half ERU times the number of units per lot, while nonresidential properties are charged based on the measured number of ERUs on the property.

Based on that rate structure and the amount of revenue required for stormwater capital improvements, Raftelis developed an annual residential rate of $102 for 2021, $114 for 2022, $120 for 2023, $138 for 2024, $154 for 2025, and $162 for 2026.

“Stormwater infrastructure is everywhere, and it is very important as it affects all of our roadways,” said Adam Watts, Stormwater Department engineer. “With Stormwater Management being an enterprise fund and separate from other county funding, we can assure the citizens the fee collected goes only toward keeping our roads safe by making sure our infrastructure is up to par.”

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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