Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Henry County Stormwater Utility?
How does it differ from the Henry County Water and Sewer
- Who’s in charge of the Stormwater Utility
and how can I contact them?
- I was informed that my bill is based on
my properties "impervious surface". What is "impervious
- Where can I get current information about
the Stormwater Utility?
- Rain isn’t new to Henry County. Why do we
have to pay a fee for stormwater management?
- Is Henry County the only County that has
to face these new stormwater management requirements?
- What would happen if Henry County refused
to comply with this new permit?
- I have made inquiries with the County regarding
drainage issues on or near my property for some time and
nothing has been done. Will you fix the problem now?
- Paying for stormwater management with fees
instead of property taxes means I won’t be able to deduct
it from federal and state income taxes. Because of this,
I’d rather pay a property tax.
- Will the creation of a Stormwater Utility
result in a reduction of my property taxes?
- Haven’t we already addressed stormwater
with the existing SPLOST Sales Tax Program?
- I don’t have storm sewers serving my property.
Why am I being charged this fee?
- How was my Fee calculated?
- I live on a small residential lot. Am I
paying as much as homeowners on larger lots?
- Will individual residents of condominiums,
apartments, and mobile home parks pay the fee?
- Many residents jointly own out-lots or common
areas in their developments. Who pays the Fee for those
- How was the Stormwater Unit Rate determined?
- What will I get for my money?
- Can the Utility Fee be used to fund other
programs, like the Police and Fire Departments?
- Can the collected fees be used as “matching
funds” on state and federal grants to implement regional
- I am retired/disabled and living on a fixed
income. Am I eligible for a discount?
- Are any properties exempt from paying this
- We are a property tax-exempt institution.
Are we required to pay a Stormwater Utility Fee?
- I’m thinking about buying a property and
want to know what the annual Fee will be. How can I find
- Will the revenue go into the County’s general
- How much money will the County collect
from the stormwater charge?
- I wasn’t aware that the County was considering
this fee. Can you tell me how it was enacted?
- How and when will I be billed?
- Does sales tax apply to the Stormwater Utility
- I own several properties. Can my bills be
combined into one?
- I live in the City of McDonough, Stockbridge
or Locust Grove etc. Will I be getting a bill?
- I am retired and leave Henry for extended
periods so I disconnect my utilities. Will I still have
to pay the stormwater Fee?
- I rent an apartment or a house. Will I get
a bill for the Stormwater Utility Fee?
- I own a condominium. Will I receive a bill?
- I rent space for my business. Will I receive
- Our building is shared by multiple property
owners. How will they be billed?
- As a landlord, my contract with my renters
specifies that they pay utilities. Can you send the bill
- I share the parking lot on my property
with my neighboring business. How was the fee determined?
- I own property that is currently undeveloped.
At what point after I start development will the billing
- What do I need to do about my stormwater
bill when I sell my property?
- What period of time does the stormwater
charge cover and when will the stormwater charge be payable?
- Why is the County using the tax bill collection
method to collect the stormwater charge?
- What if I find a stormwater Fee error on
my tax bill?
- Are fee corrections retroactive?
- What can I do if I disagree with my Fee?
- Is there an appeals process?
is the Henry County Stormwater Utility? How does it differ
from the Henry County Water & Sewer Authority?
The Stormwater Utility was developed
in response to an environmental mandate from Georgia's Environmental
Protection Division to develop a comprehensive watershed
and stormwater management program to protect water quality
in the state’s waterways. This mandated program was
necessary to comply with the National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Phase II Permit regulations
of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. A large
percentage of the stormwater run-off travels through the
storm drains and carry pollutants to the county reservoirs
that supply our drinking water. The Henry County Water Authority was founded to acquire, construct,
and thereafter operate and maintain projects embracing sources
of water supply and the distribution and sale of water and
related facilities, including the establishment of a sanitary
sewer system in Henry County.
in charge of the Stormwater Utility and how can I contact
The Henry County Board of Commissioners
oversees the Stormwater Management Department which is in
charge of implementing the stormwater management program.
was informed that my bill is based on my property's “impervious
surface”. What is an“impervious surface”?
It is the area on a property that
is covered by buildings, driveways, parking areas, and other
hard surfaces (concrete, gravel, asphalt, roof-tops) that
prevent stormwater runoff from being absorbed into the soil.
Consequently, stormwater picks up pollutants deposited on
these surfaces, such as oil, gasoline, pesticides and other
chemicals and carries it to streams and rivers. In addition,
as runoff travels over these hard surfaces, it gains speed
and erodes soil near the bodies of water, further contaminating
our water bodies with sediment.
can I get current information about the Stormwater Utility?
The stormwater website
will be the most up-to-date source of information. These
FAQs, other fact sheets about stormwater pollution and news
about the Stormwater Management Department will be posted,
along with copies of the Ordinance and other items of interest.
Check the website often for new information. Billing information
can be obtained from the website or from Stormwater
customer service representatives.
isn’t new to Henry County. Why do we have to pay a fee for
Like other government entities,
Henry County has traditionally managed stormwater by collecting
it and moving it to our creeks and rivers as quickly as
possible. But Henry County is now facing unfunded federal
and state mandates (the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System or NPDES Permitting Program) that require the County
to manage stormwater in ways that will also protect all
tributaries and improve water quality. Until now, stormwater
management activities have primarily been paid for with
general fund revenues, but this funding source is inadequate
to pay for the stormwater management programs necessary
to be in compliance with these mandates. Consequently, a
new stormwater utility fee has been created to provide an
equitable and stable funding source for these new stormwater
Henry County the only County that has to face these new stormwater
No, there are federally mandated
requirements that affect governments nationwide. Currently
in Georgia, 29 counties and 55 cities are new permittees.
A short list of counties and cities in major urbanized areas
that are currently under the state and federal stormwater
mandates are: Counties - Bartow, Catoosa, Chattahoochee,
Cherokee, Clarke, Columbia, Dade, Dougherty, Douglas, Fayette,
Floyd, Glynn, Henry, Houston, Jones, Lee, Newton, Oconee,
Rockdale, Walker and Walton Counties. Cities - Albany, Athens,
Brunswick, Centerville, Chickamauga, Conyers, Douglasville,
Fort Oglethorpe, Grovetown, Lookout Mountain, McDonough,
Mountain Park, Payne, Rome, Rossville, Stockbridge, Vernonburg,
Warner Robins, Winterville and Woodstock. More governments
may be added in the future. Many cities and counties have
had stormwater utilities in place for many years. Others
are turning to utilities to provide stable and equitable
funding to implement stormwater management activities, whether
or not they are affected by the unfunded federal mandate
would happen if Henry County refused to comply with this new
The federal government requires
this permit under the authority of the Clean Water Act.
There are substantial monetary penalties for non-compliance.
Willful violations can result in penalties of fifty thousand
dollars ($50,000) per day per occurrence. Additionally,
the Act provides the opportunity for third party lawsuits
against Henry County if it fails to comply with the permit
have made inquiries with the County regarding drainage issues
on or near my property for some time and nothing has been
done. Will you fix the problem now?
Some drainage complaints that the
County receives are for problems on private property that
the County has no authority to address. The existence of
a Stormwater Utility will not change that. There are, however,
historical problems located on public property or on private
property with public drainage easements. The stormwater
department maintains a master list of service requests for
which it has authority to address.
for stormwater management with fees instead of property taxes
means I won’t be able to deduct it from federal and state
income taxes. Because of this, I’d rather pay a property tax.
Stormwater utilities and user charges
offer a number of advantages over property taxes. Governments
all over the Country are relying on user fees that are often
a more stable source of revenues.
- Revenues from stormwater fees can only be used for stormwater
related expenditures. Conversely, funding from general
revenue sources faces fierce competition each year among
elected officials and department directors vying for their
share of limited dollars.
- Under property tax systems, stormwater managers often
cannot count on budget allocations, do not have as much
control over their budgets, and cannot plan as well.
- Perhaps the most important reason that the number of
user fee systems is increasing is that property owners
believe charges are more fair. Impervious area, the basis
for most stormwater fees, can be measured and is a reasonably
objective measure. The idea that property owners pay in
proportion to the measured amount of hard surface on their
property seems fair. Property values, conversely, are
unrelated to the problem of stormwater runoff.
Property taxes are not an equitable
means of collecting funding from everyone who uses and benefits
from the stormwater system. Though user fees are not tax-deductible
for individuals, businesses can deduct it as a business
the creation of a Stormwater Utility result in a reduction
of my property taxes?
No. Historically, only a small
amount of general fund revenues have been allocated to stormwater
management activities. These limited dollars will simply
be absorbed into other expanding programs such as our Fire,
Transportation and Police Departments.
we already addressed stormwater with the existing SPLOST Sales
No. The stormwater services that
are required of our County under the new mandatory NPDES
permit will require a new source of funding. Past reliance
on the general fund and limited sales tax programs to provide
needed revenues has resulted in very little money to carry
out these programs. Early in the process, the Board of Commissioners
realized that Henry County would need some type of funding
alternative such as Special Service Districts with district
taxes, Special One-time Assessments levied against properties,
Grants and Loans, Permit and Inspection Fees, Impact/Facility
Fees for new development or User Fees based on a property’s
contribution of stormwater runoff.
don’t have storm sewers serving my property. Why am I being
charged this fee?
Every property contributes and
places a demand on the stormwater system. Every property
benefits from the County’s stormwater management activities,
whether or not there is a constructed storm sewer connected
directly to the property. As an example, everyone relies
on and benefits from the storm sewer system constructed
to serve the road network that gets us to and from work.
The County’s vast stormwater management system consists
of both natural and constructed features, many of which
are not obvious. In addition to the traditional stormwater
conveyance needs of individual property owners, the Stormwater
Management Department is now required, under the stormwater
mandate, to manage the entire stormwater management system,
which includes providing water quality and channel protection,
system mapping, inspections, maintenance and repair of ponds
and conveyances, water sampling and testing, watershed planning
and other programs for the benefit of the entire community.
was my Fee calculated?
The amount of impervious surface
(hard surfaces like roads, buildings, driveways and parking
lots), and land use type are the factors taken into consideration
to determine an equitable fee. As we build more impervious
surfaces, the amount of stormwater that runs off the land
without soaking into the ground increases. As the percentage
of impervious area on property increases, our surface waters
slowly become more polluted, aquatic habitats deteriorate,
and flooding risks increase. The percent of impervious area
on a parcel can be measured on aerial photographs or calculated
by a licensed professional from site and general development
plans. Additionally, we know that as the percent of impervious
area increases, other factors, like land use and development
density, also impact our storm sewer system and surface
waters by increasing runoff rates, runoff volumes, and pollutant
loads. The fee is determined as follows:
The flat annual fee for each single-family residential parcel
is $39.83. The County has found that, irrespective of the
size of a residential parcel, the amount of stormwater runoff
and pollutant loading from residential development is similar
and that it would be excessively and unnecessarily expensive
to determine precisely the percent impervious area for each
of the 46,000+ residential parcels in Henry County. Therefore,
each residential parcel in the County will be charged a
uniform residential fee of $39.83, regardless of the size
of each parcel or the amount of impervious area on each
parcel. Based on a statistical sampling and for the purpose
of calculating the Fee, all residential parcels are considered
to contain 4,780 square feet of impervious area.
The same equation is used to calculate the Fee for non-residential
parcels. However, the impervious area on non-residential
parcels varies significatly, so in this case, the amount
of impervious area for each parcel was actually measured
using a combination of aerial photography and tax assessor’s
data. The Non Single-Family Residential Fee (commercial,
industrial, institutional businesses) is $39.83 for every
4,780 square feet of impervious surface. For example, a
grocery store that contains exactly 15 times the impervious
area of the average sized house (15 x 4,780 = 71,700 square
feet) will pay 15 times the single-family rate or $597.45
live on a small residential lot. Am I paying as much as homeowners
on larger lots?
All single-family homeowners are
paying a flat fee based on the results of representative,
statistical sampling of actual homes in Henry County. This
sampling concluded that the average amount of impervious
area per single family lot is 4,780 square feet.
individual residents of condominiums, apartments, and mobile
home parks pay the fee?
Only if they are the owner. The
fee is assessed to property owners, not residents or tenants.
The formula that is used to calculate the fee for the residential
customers is the same as that used for the non-residential
customers. The owners of such housing complexes will need
to determine how to apportion their fee back to their residents.
residents jointly own out-lots or common areas in their developments.
Who pays the fee for those parcels?
The cost to manage stormwater from
commonly owned residential parcels is covered by the Single-Family
Residential Fee. Out-lots and common areas will not be charged
was the Stormwater Unit Rate determined?
The stormwater unit rate was adopted
by the Henry County Board of Commissioners on May 15, 2006.
This rate will provide a 2007 stormwater operations and
capital improvement budget of $2.7 million. The Stormwater
Unit Rate is the amount of money needed on a per parcel
basis, given the parcel size and percent impervious area
that, in total, will provide Utility revenues sufficient
to provide the services allocated in this budget.
will I get for my money?
Stormwater management systems protect
the environment, people and property by ensuring the safety
of our water bodies for generations to come. In the past,
general fund revenues paid for limited stormwater management
activities. Since inception of the NPDES permit in early
2003, the County has been obligated to provide their citizens,
business owners and the development community with a wide
range of stormwater management programs. These include:
- Maintenance of single-family residential stormwater management
facilities and conveyances located outside of the street
right-of-way (ponds, swales, drainage ditches)
- Retrofits and repair of single-family residential stormwater
management ponds and conveyances
- Inspection and engineering assessments of privately-owned
stormwater management ponds and conveyances and storm sewers,
culverts and ditches located inside of the street right-of-way
- Enhanced development plan review and enforcement for grading,
stormwater runoff, water quality and environmental protection
- Public education and outreach activities at schools, businesses
and civic organizations
- Detailed stormwater infrastructure inventory and mapping
updates to regulated flood-plain boundaries
- Field monitoring, water quality sampling and enhanced
code enforcement illicit discharge detection, citations
- Training seminars for citizens, educators and developers
- Stabilization of creeks and other manmade and natural
- Planning and design of regional facilities designed for
flood control and water quality improvement
- Construction site inspection of stormwater facilities
before acceptance into the County’s inventory
In addition, developers of new
commercial, industrial, institutional and residential property
will continue to add to the County’s stormwater management
system either by building on-site stormwater management
ponds and conveyances that serve their new developments
and/or by funding the construction of regional stormwater
The NPDES regulations require that
these same activities be continued and intensified, plus
work is conducted in these new areas:
- Targeted public education and participation
- Construction of regional water quality and quantity control
- Computer aided storm sewer system mapping
- Routine pond and outfall inspections and maintenance
- Detection and elimination of illegal discharges to the
storm sewer system
- Development and enforcement of erosion control and illicit
- Pollution prevention activities
- Verification of response to citizen inquiries, violations
reports, and complaints
- Enhanced record-keeping and report preparation
- Watershed based stormwater management planning
the utility fee be used to fund other programs, like the Police
and Fire Departments?
No. The Stormwater Utility provides
dedicated funding only for stormwater management program
activities specified by the Stormwater Utility Ordinance.
The Henry County Finance Department will track the amount
of money generated through the Utility and account for how
the money is spent.
the collected fees be used as “matching funds” on state and
federal grants to implement regional stormwater fixes?
Yes. Once Henry County has a stable
source of revenue, we can compete with other governments
in Georgia for federal and state funds. Many of the grants
administered by the EPA, Corps of Engineers and other agencies
require only a 25% to 40% local match from the County. That
means Stormwater Utility proceeds can be used as leverage
to such an extent that up to 75% of the revenue is provided
from outside sources.
am retired/disabled and living on a fixed income. Am I eligible
for a discount?
The County does not provide utility
fee reductions for elderly, disabled, or low-income customers.
The Fee is based on impervious surfaces such as roof-tops,
driveways and asphalt or concrete parking areas. Credits
(discounts) may be available for eligible properties that
install, alter, or conduct activities that reduce the costs
of services provided by the County.
any properties exempt from paying this fee?
a) Yes. Undeveloped properties
will not pay a fee since they have no impervious surfaces.
b) Parcels with impervious area
from the public transportation network (roads, sidewalks,
etc.) are not charged a fee. The stormwater management costs
associated with impacts from public transportation networks
are apportioned to all customers as part of the Stormwater
Utility Fee due to the universal benefit that customers
derive from them. In addition, public transportation networks
are directly responsible for stormwater management of their
rights–of-way and assume the costs associated with those
are a property tax-exempt institution. Are we required to
pay a Stormwater Utility Fee?
Yes. Every developed property in
Henry County contributes and places a demand on the stormwater
system and receives the benefit and use of the stormwater
management system, regardless of tax status. Therefore,
all owners of developed property will pay their fair share
to support it. Tax-exempt entities will need to pay for
stormwater management, just like they pay for drinking water,
wastewater, and electrical utility services.
thinking about buying a property and want to know what the
annual Fee will be. How can I find that out?
Henry County customer service representatives
can research this information and provide a response to
prospective property buyers.
the revenue go into the County’s general fund?
No. Revenues will go into a separate
fund that may only be used for stormwater services.
much money will the County collect from the stormwater charge?
It is estimated that $2.7 million
will be collected in the first year.
wasn’t aware that the County was considering this fee. Can
you tell me how it was enacted?
After several years of planning,
the Henry County Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance
on May 15, 2006 creating the Stormwater Management Utility.
Extensive public outreach was conducted prior to adoption
of the ordinance to obtain input on this proposal, with
meetings held throughout 2004, 2005 and 2006. At least eight
(8) newspaper and other articles explaining the new Stormwater
Programs were regularly published in local media, including
the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, The Daily
Herald, the Henry County Times and the Henry
County Chamber of Commerce newsletter, Visions beginning
in February 2004. Brochures and fact sheets were distributed
at local organizations, libraries, senior centers and restaurants.
Letters were sent out to all property
owners explaining the mandated Stormwater Management Program,
the associated costs with implementing it and the dates
of the Town Hall Meetings and Commission meetings to approve
the ordinance and rate structure.
The Board of Commissioners met
on June 30 and July 6, 2004 and February 9 and March 6,
2006 to specifically discuss the utility’s rate structure.
Citizen, stakeholder and in-house advisory groups were formed
as early as 2002. They met extensively throughout 2004,
2005 and 2006. Their recommendations were documented and
taken into consideration in creating the final version of
the ordinance and its associated plans and policies.
and when will I be billed?
Your stormwater utility fee will
be on your tax bill which is mailed out each September.
Though a separate fee, it can be paid together with your
sales tax apply to the Stormwater Utility Fee?
own several properties. Can my bills be combined into one?
No. For records keeping and database
purposes, rate payers will receive separate bills for each
property that they own.
live in the City of McDonough, Stockbridge or Locust Grove
etc. Will I be getting a bill?
Not from Henry County. Individual
cities within the County may have their own stormwater utility
charge, but the Henry County Utility will only collect fees
from residents and businesses located in unincorporated
Henry County. Please contact the cities directly if you
live there and have any questions.
am retired and leave Henry for extended periods so I disconnect
my utilities. Will I still have to pay the stormwater Fee?
Yes. Unoccupied parcels will still
be billed. The availability of the stormwater management
system cannot be discontinued based on occupancy.
rent an apartment or a house. Will I get a bill for the Stormwater
No, only property owners will receive
bills. Property owners may choose to pass the fee onto renters
in the form of higher payments, but the obligation for payment
rests with the property owner.
own a condominium. Will I receive a bill?
Yes, all property owners of developed
land will receive bills.
rent space for my business. Will I receive a bill?
No, only property owners will receive
building is shared by multiple property owners. How will they
Due to the variability in ownership
combinations, it will be up to the joint property owners
to determine a billing approach that is acceptable to them
and Henry County.
a landlord, my contract with my renters specifies that they
pay utilities. Can you send the bill to them?
No; you may pass this expense on
to your renters via a rent increase, but the ultimate responsibility
to make payment remains with the property owner.
share the parking lot on my property with my neighboring business.
How was the fee determined?
The impervious surface on your
property was determined with great accuracy using Geographic
Information System tools, survey results and existing County
own property that is currently undeveloped. At what point
after I start development will the billing begin?
When Henry County makes the assessment
for improvements on a property and adds it to the tax role,
the Stormwater Utility Fee will also be activated.
do I need to do about my stormwater bill when I sell my property?
Owners should notify Henry County
of the date that their property transaction will be complete
so they can “finalize” their account and transfer account
responsibility to the new owner. The stormwater fee is not
pro-rated; whoever owned the property at the time of the
billing cycle is responsible for the bill.
period of time does the stormwater charge cover and when will
the stormwater charge be payable?
The stormwater fee is imposed annually
and is payable, as part of your property tax bill, each
year before November 15. A one percent (1%) charge will
be applied each month if not paid by the due date. A ten
percent (10%) penalty will be applied on all bills that
are 90 days past due.
is the County using the tax bill collection method to collect
the stormwater charge?
Compared to stand-alone monthly
billing and its associated mailing and postage costs, “piggy-backing”
the stormwater collection method on the existing annual
property tax bill saves everyone money by significantly
reducing the administrative costs of the program.
if I find a stormwater fee error on my tax bill?
There are several types of errors
that can occur with the stormwater fee:
- Your property is incorrectly classified as a non-residential
customer or as a residential customer.
- The percent impervious area identified for your non-residential
parcel is incorrect.
- Your Fee contains an apparent multiplication error.
You are receiving a bill for parcels that you do not own.
- You are not being billed for parcels that you do own.
- Your mailing address is incorrect.
If you think the bill is incorrect,
you will need to contact the
Henry County Stormwater Management Department for assistance.
Correction requests will be handled on a first come, first
fee corrections retroactive?
Yes, for up to six months from
the time a Fee Correction Request is submitted, assuming
incorrect billing occurred during that same timeframe.
can I do if I disagree with my fee?
If a business owner (non single-family
residential customer) believes that the impervious area
is incorrect, they will need to submit a correction that
has been certified by a registered professional engineer,
land surveyor, architect, or landscape architect, along
with supporting documentation. The request will be evaluated
within 60 days and notification of the fee correction decision
will be mailed to the customer. Since the residential fee
is a flat fee, there are no fee corrections for residential
customers unless the customer was double billed or billed
for property that they don’t own. The County has found that
the amount of stormwater runoff and pollution from residential
development is similar. Furthermore, the residential fee
represents the minimum, equitable payment for a single-family
property that is needed to support the stormwater program.
there an appeals process?
Yes. If the non-residential customer
disagrees with the fee correction decision, an appeal may
be made to the Henry County Board of Commissioners.