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Sacramento is planning to increase stormwater fees | Need to know

Under the plan, most single-family homeowners would pay around $6 more in new stormwater fees per month. Ballots are due Wednesday evening.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A special election in Sacramento ends Wednesday and could bring millions of dollars in resident-funded improvements to the city's century-old stormwater system.

During a Feb. 1, meeting, the Sacramento City Council approved sending ballots from the storm drainage property fee measure to the homes of Sacramento residents. Ballots are due back by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 16. The ballot measure was proposed by the Sacramento Department of Utilities which says the city has not changed the fee it charges residents to use sewer and stormwater services since 1996.

The new measure would increase the city's stormwater fees in order to replace pumps and pipelines, creating nearly 1,300 new jobs in the capital city over the course of a decade. Under the new fees, the average single-family homeowner would pay about $6 more per month in storm drainage fees. 

The measure, which would generate up to $20 million annually according to the city's estimates, would also apply to non-residential and multi-family properties at different rates. Much of Sacramento, including parts of downtown and all of midtown, operates under a combined sewer system, meaning storm and sewer water is collected in the same system of pipes. According to the city, many of those pipes are more than 100 years old and "rapidly deteriorating".

In addition to repairing and replacing pipes and pumps, the measure would also provide funding to protect drinking water quality and supplies, keep trash and harmful chemicals out of rivers, prevent sewage from overflowing into neighborhoods and provide water for future droughts. 

Sacramento ranks among the top six cities in the nation at the highest risk for flooding, according to the city and county reports. Sacramento's predictions hold that in six to eight years, the current stormwater fee will not generate enough revenue to maintain and operate the stormwater system.

The Utilities Rate Advisory Commission would provide oversight for the funds reviewing how they are spent. If approved by voters, the new fee would go into effect July 1, 2022, contingent upon final approval from Sacramento's city council in April.

The city of Sacramento has launched a website providing more information on the storm drainage property fee measure. The Wednesday election deadline also applies to mail-in-ballots, which the city says they must receive by March 16. 

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