Sarasota County has enacted a Stormwater Ordinance in order to comply with the Clean Water Act and to fund stormwater management services and facilities. Sarasota is the permitting authority for all land disturbing activities and requires the land owner to maintain all on-site stormwater control facilities and all open space areas (e.g. parks or “green” areas) required by the approved stormwater control plan. Sarasota will only provide construction permits to projects that establish a plan to manage stormwater runoff occurring during the construction process. Stormwater fees will be calculated and collected by the county. Credits will be available for properties that engage in specific stormwater best management practices. Sarasota, under the NPDES program, also has the authority to inspect properties for noncompliance and can issue a notice of violation (NOV) for any deficiency or infraction onsite. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of any stormwater facilities or practices located on the property. Sarasota has the authority to inspect stormwater facilities and practices in order to ascertain that they properly maintained and functioning.
Current Rate Structure
The rate structure was changed in 1994 to a more equitable system that takes into account the pervious and impervious areas of each parcel and includes several new property classes. The Sarasota County Stormwater Environmental Utility currently assesses its customers based on Equivalent Stormwater Units (ESU’s) that are based on the effective impervious area of the average single-family parcel. One ESU was determined to be 3,153 square feet based on a statistical sample of single-family residential parcels that were examined by a consulting firm hired by the county. Effective Impervious Area as defined by the Sarasota County utility is calculated as:
“the sum of (I) the hard surfaced areas which either prevent or severely restrict the entry of water into the soil or cause increased water runoff (the “Impervious Area”) minus any exempt areas (collectively, the “Net Impervious Area”), and (II) the amounts computed by multiplying for each pervious area category (A) the surface are which, under standard conditions, is permeable to Stormwater runoff and other surface water (the “Pervious Area”) minus any exempt areas (collectively, the “Net Pervious Area”) by (B) a factor based upon the Pervious Area Category.” (Sarasota County, Florida Stormwater Utility Revenue Bonds, Series 1999, page 17).
The pervious area categories and factors are listed in Table 1. The multiplication factors are based on the intensity of development on the parcel with land in its natural state receiving a factor of zero and urban pervious land receiving a factor of 0.148.
Table 1: Pervious Area Factors by Category
Pervious Area Type
A two-acre orchard parcel with two buildings and a paved parking area on it totaling 10,000 square feet of impervious area would be charged for an effective impervious area of 11,304.04 square feet.
2 acres*43,560 = 87,120 square feet Total Parcel Area
87,120 square feet Total Parcel Area – 10,000 square feet Impervious Area = 77,120 square feet of Pervious Area
77, 120 square feet Pervious Area*0.017 Groves/Orchards Rate Factor = 1,311.04 square feet Net Pervious Area
1,311.04 square feet Net Pervious Area + 10,000 square feet Net Impervious Area = 11,311.04 square feet Effective Impervious Area
Types of Assessments
The user fee has three components: the customer service assessment, the planning assessment, and the maintenance assessment. The customer service assessment is a uniform charge that everyone in the service area pays to cover the costs of the administration of the stormwater utility fee system. Currently, the customer service assessment is $3.89 per parcel per year.
The planning and maintenance assessments are based on the number of ESU’s in each parcel. The planning charge, currently $20.41 per ESU per year, covers master planning, engineering and inspection services, development review, system design and management costs.
The maintenance charge covers ditch and canal cleaning and mowing, the application of herbicides, the cleaning and repair of the stormwater system components, and low-cost construction projects. The maintenance charge is currently $56.15 per ESU per year.
The charges for each of the three user fee components are determined when the stormwater utility’s staff determines the amount of revenue that must be generated to cover its operating expenses, debt service requirements, and capital improvement plans for the next fiscal year. The anticipated stormwater service charges are published in a local newspaper then presented at a Board of County Commissioners meeting and mailed to each Sarasota county property holder who is subject to the assessments before they can be adopted. The current base charge for a medium sized single-family parcel (one ESU) is $80.45 annually, or approximately $6.70 per month.
Retention credit shall be calculated as the portion of the design storm stored within a stormwater retention system, rounded to the nearest 0.125. For example, the retention credit for a stormwater retention system meeting the County Land Development Regulations to treat the runoff from one inch of rainfall is 1/8 or 0.125 (one inch stored as compared to the eight inch design storm).
Detention credit is 0.125 for stormwater detention systems which control discharges of storm events greater than or equal to the 10-year or greater storm event must be controlled so that the existing condition discharge is less than or equal to the pre-development discharge.
Developed property serviced by privately owned and maintained stormwater retention or detention facilities are eligible for a credit against their stormwater management assessment. The 1981 Sarasota County Land Development Regulations (LDR) required that development projects provide stormwater retention and detention systems. Projects initiated prior to the adoption of these regulations might have provided stormwater retention or detention facilities even though not specifically required.
Post 1981 Land Development Regulations
Developed property approved for development by Sarasota County after 1981 (January 1, 1982 or later) and currently serviced by a stormwater retention or detention system meeting minimum Sarasota County Land Development Regulations will receive a twenty-five percent (25%) credit against assessment (0.25 total credit = 0.125 retention credit + 0.125 detention credit). Such developed property with a stormwater retention system which exceeds the minimum Sarasota County LDR’s for stormwater retention is eligible to receive additional credit based upon the stormwater retention system provided. An application for Stormwater Retention or Detention must be submitted to receive additional credit for which a property is eligible.
Pre-1981 Land Development Regulation
Developed property approved for development by Sarasota County before 1982 (December 31, 1981 or earlier) and serviced by a stormwater retention or detention system is eligible to receive a variable credit against assessment. The credit shall be calculated as specified above and be based upon the stormwater retention or detention system provided. An Application for Stormwater Retention or Detention Credit must be submitted to receive a credit for which a property is eligible.
To maintain credit eligibility, stormwater retention or detention systems must be maintained in such a manner that the intended retention or detention functions are being provided. Procedures to ensure that non-maintained systems do not receive undeserved credit are included under the Inspection Process section.
An application for Stormwater Retention or Detention Credit must be submitted by the property owner in order to receive:
- Additional credit greater than the standard twenty-five percent granted to post 1981 LDR developments.
- Credit for stormwater retention or detention systems associated with pre-1981 LDR developments.
- Credit for new or improved stormwater retention or detention systems.
Proper operation and maintenance of stormwater facilities is essential for the facilities to continue to perform as intended. In order to continue to receive a credit, stormwater retention or detention facilities must be certified or inspected at least once every twenty-four (24) months.
Since 1988, the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) has issued operation and maintenance (O & M) permits requiring periodic inspection and certification of stormwater systems by a registered professional engineer. Facility inspections for purposes of determining credit eligibility will be coordinated with the SWFWMD inspection and certification of stormwater systems by a registered professional engineer.
SWFWMD O&M Permitted Facilities
Owners of facilities which have a SWFWMD O&M permit shall submit a completed copy of the SWFWMD certification form to the SEU every 24 months. The SEU will consider a properly completed and submitted SWFWMD certification form as reasonable assurance of adequate maintenance, unless the SWFWMD indicates otherwise. If a certification is not provided or the SWFWMD indicates that the facility is not being maintained, then the SEU will revoke the credits. Credits will remain revoked until the owner notifies the SEU that the facility has been recertified by SWFWMD. A copy of the recertification shall be submitted to the SEU before the credits will be reinstated.
Stormwater retention and detention systems that do not have a SWFWMD O&M permit will be inspected by the County at least once every 24 months.
The SEU will perform inspections for the facilities that do not have a SWFWMD O&M permit. Other inspections will be made by the SEU as necessary to respond to complaints, problems, applications or requests for assistance.
Inspection results will be reported on the Stormwater Retention or Detention System Inspection Report and a pass or fail determination will be made. A copy of the report will be provided to the property owner within 14 days of the inspection.
Facilities that pass the inspection will continue to receive the appropriate credit. Credits will be adjusted if necessary to accurately reflect the facility design.
Notice of failure and deficiencies will be sent to the property owner of a facility that fails the inspection. A second inspection will be conducted 90 days after the first inspection. If the facility deficiencies have not been corrected by the time of the second inspection, the credit will be revoked. The SWFWMD will be notified of any SWFWMD permitted facilities that fail the second inspection. Other appropriate action will be taken to bring Sarasota County approved facilities into compliance with approved plans.
Credits revoked between January 1 and May 31 will be deleted from the November assessment billing prepared that same calendar year. Credits revoked between June 1 and December 31 will be deleted from the November assessment billing prepared the following calendar year. Credits will be revoked for at least one year and remain revoked until the deficiencies are corrected. The owner is responsible for notifying the SEU of deficiencies corrected after the second inspection.
Fees will be charged to property owners to cover the costs of regularly scheduled 24-month inspections and second inspections. Fees will be charged on the basis of the number of stormwater retention or detention facilities inspected. The fee per facility is $30.00 per inspection.
Invoices will be sent with the Inspection Report. Payment shall be made to Sarasota County Stormwater Environmental Utility within 30 days of invoice. Non-payment of inspection fees within 60 days of invoice will result in revocation of credits until fees are paid.