Henry County, GA - Home Henry County Board of Commissioners | Henry County, Georgia

Henry County, GA

Contact henry County Government
347 Phillips Drive
McDonough, GA 30253
Tel: (770) 288-7246
Tel: (770) 288-RAIN
Fax: (770) 288-7257

Hours:
Mon - Fri: 7:30a - 4:30p

 




Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  1. What is the Henry County Stormwater Utility? How does it differ from the Henry County Water and Sewer Authority?
  2. Who’s in charge of the Stormwater Utility and how can I contact them?
  3. I was informed that my bill is based on my properties "impervious surface". What is "impervious surface”?
  4. Where can I get current information about the Stormwater Utility?
  5. Rain isn’t new to Henry County. Why do we have to pay a fee for stormwater management?
  6. Is Henry County the only County that has to face these new stormwater management requirements?
  7. What would happen if Henry County refused to comply with this new permit?
  8. 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?
  9. 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.
  10. Will the creation of a Stormwater Utility result in a reduction of my property taxes?
  11. Haven’t we already addressed stormwater with the existing SPLOST Sales Tax Program?

Fee Questions

  1. I don’t have storm sewers serving my property. Why am I being charged this fee?
  2. How was my Fee calculated?
  3. I live on a small residential lot. Am I paying as much as homeowners on larger lots?
  4. Will individual residents of condominiums, apartments, and mobile home parks pay the fee?
  5. Many residents jointly own out-lots or common areas in their developments. Who pays the Fee for those parcels?
  6. How was the Stormwater Unit Rate determined?
  7. What will I get for my money?
  8. Can the Utility Fee be used to fund other programs, like the Police and Fire Departments?
  9. Can the collected fees be used as “matching funds” on state and federal grants to implement regional stormwater fixes?
  10. I am retired/disabled and living on a fixed income. Am I eligible for a discount?
  11. Are any properties exempt from paying this Fee?
  12. We are a property tax-exempt institution. Are we required to pay a Stormwater Utility Fee?
  13. I’m thinking about buying a property and want to know what the annual Fee will be. How can I find that out?
  14. Will the revenue go into the County’s general fund?
  15. How much money will the County collect from the stormwater charge?
  16. I wasn’t aware that the County was considering this fee. Can you tell me how it was enacted?

Billing Questions

  1. How and when will I be billed?
  2. Does sales tax apply to the Stormwater Utility Fee?
  3. I own several properties. Can my bills be combined into one?
  4. I live in the City of McDonough, Stockbridge or Locust Grove etc. Will I be getting a bill?
  5. I am retired and leave Henry for extended periods so I disconnect my utilities. Will I still have to pay the stormwater Fee?
  6. I rent an apartment or a house. Will I get a bill for the Stormwater Utility Fee?
  7. I own a condominium. Will I receive a bill?
  8. I rent space for my business. Will I receive a bill?
  9. Our building is shared by multiple property owners. How will they be billed?
  10. As a landlord, my contract with my renters specifies that they pay utilities. Can you send the bill to them?
  11. I share the parking lot on my property with my neighboring business. How was the fee determined?
  12. I own property that is currently undeveloped. At what point after I start development will the billing begin?
  13. What do I need to do about my stormwater bill when I sell my property?
  14. What period of time does the stormwater charge cover and when will the stormwater charge be payable?
  15. Why is the County using the tax bill collection method to collect the stormwater charge?

Corrections/Appeals Questions

  1. What if I find a stormwater Fee error on my tax bill?
  2. Are fee corrections retroactive?
  3. What can I do if I disagree with my Fee?
  4. Is there an appeals process?

General Questions

What 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.

Top

Who’s in charge of the Stormwater Utility and how can I contact them?

The Henry County Board of Commissioners oversees the Stormwater Management Department which is in charge of implementing the stormwater management program.

Top

I 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.

Top

Where 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.

Top

Rain isn’t new to Henry County. Why do we have to pay a fee for stormwater management?

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 management activities.

Top

Is Henry County the only County that has to face these new stormwater management requirements?

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 (NPDES).

Top

What would happen if Henry County refused to comply with this new permit?

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 requirements.

Top

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?

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.

Top

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.

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 expense.

Top

Will 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.

Top

Haven’t we already addressed stormwater with the existing SPLOST Sales Tax Program?

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.

Top

 

Fee Questions

I 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.

Top

 

How 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:

Single-Family Residential Fee
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.

Non-Residential Fee
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 per year.

Top

 

I 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.

Top

 

Will 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.

Top

 

Many 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 a fee.

Top

 

How 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.

Top

 

What 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 and abatement
  • Training seminars for citizens, educators and developers
  • Stabilization of creeks and other manmade and natural drainage-ways
  • 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 management facilities.

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 structures
  • 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 discharge ordinances
  • Pollution prevention activities
  • Verification of response to citizen inquiries, violations reports, and complaints
  • Enhanced record-keeping and report preparation
  • Watershed based stormwater management planning

Top

 

Can 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.

Top

 

Can 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.

Top

 

I 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.

Top

 

Are 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 responsibilities.

Top

 

We 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.

Top

 

I’m 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.

Top

 

Will 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.

Top

 

How much money will the County collect from the stormwater charge?

It is estimated that $2.7 million will be collected in the first year.

Top

 

I 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.

Top

 

Billing Questions

How 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 tax bill.

Top

Does sales tax apply to the Stormwater Utility Fee?

No.

Top

 

I 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.

Top

 

I 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.

Top

 

I 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.

Top

 

I rent an apartment or a house. Will I get a bill for the Stormwater Utility Fee?

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.

Top

 

I own a condominium. Will I receive a bill?

Yes, all property owners of developed land will receive bills.

Top

 

I rent space for my business. Will I receive a bill?

No, only property owners will receive bills.

Top

 

Our building is shared by multiple property owners. How will they be billed?

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.

Top

 

As 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.

Top

 

I 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 records.

Top

 

I 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.

Top

 

What 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.

Top

 

What 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.

Top

 

Why 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.

Top

 

Corrections/Appeals Questions

What 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 served basis.

Top

 

Are 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.

Top

 

What 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.

Top

 

Is 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.

Top

 

Top
Last updated: Monday June 10 2013

Stormwater Calendar

Stormwater Survey

Stormwater Calendar

Stormwater Technical & Engineering Documents

Stormwater: Public Outreach

Stormwater: Drainage Complaint


Stormwater - Only Rain Down the Storm Drain

 

Henry County, Georgia - Board of Commissioners - County Government