NC Stormwater Fee Dashboard helps utility owners benchmark their fees

NC Stormwater Fee Dashboard helps utility owners benchmark their fees

During October, WithersRavenel hosted Confluence to discuss the stepping stones to identifying, maintaining, and growing stormwater assets. One benefit of a stormwater asset management plan is the ability to set utility fees based on the size, age, and condition of the utility system. But when the utility owner is setting a fee for the first time or considering a fee increase, how can they know if the fee is reasonable? The North Carolina Stormwater Fee Dashboard allows stormwater utility owners to see at a glance how their fees stack up against other utilities.

The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) created a Web-based dashboard that displays stormwater utility fees in North Carolina. The EFC is a division of the University of North Carolina’s School of Government. Their mission is to enhance the ability of governments and other organizations to provide environmental programs and services in fair, effective, and financially sustainable ways.

To use the dashboard, users enter an origin city, select a comparison group, and decide whether they want the results normalized based on population. The dashboard then shows graphs comparing the fees and revenue across the group. It also displays the median fee and median revenue within the group.

The comparison groups are designed to give users multiple ways to slice the data and thus gain a clearer picture of the different cohorts to which a city belongs. For example, a comparison group can consist of utilities within a certain geographic radius or within the same watershed. Alternatively, it can include utilities with the same fee structure or a similar population size.

To date, the database contains 93 fee structures, 81 municipalities, and 3 counties. The data underlying the Stormwater Fee Dashboard is still being researched, and new information may become available.

Once you know how your city measures up, the next step is verifying the proposed fee or fee change will help you reach your asset management goals. Our Funding & Asset Management team can evaluate different scenarios to make sure your fee structure is on track to keep your system running smoothly.

Contact Melissa Cardinali at (919) 238-0391 or mcardinali@withersravenel.com or Seth Robertson at (919) 238-0323 or srobertson@withersravenel.com for more information.