Stormwater Utility

On January 18, 2005, the Board of County Commissioners approved a stormwater utility ordinance, which established a flat stormwater fee for developed residential and non-residential parcels. The stormwater utility fee will be billed annually starting with the 2006 tax roll as a non-ad valorem charge on the Bay County Property Tax Bill, and will be collected through the County Tax Collectors Office.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the problems with Stormwater?

Pollution: Every time it rains, the rainwater that is not absorbed into the ground or evaporated (called runoff) carries contaminants from lawns, streets, buildings and parking lots and deposits them directly into our tributaries and bays. Better pollution control and treatment is needed to reduce the amount of contamination flowing into our local waterbodies.

Flooding: The relatively flat terrain of Bay County and the large areas of wetlands and areas with a high water-table combine to present unique challenges for managing our frequent and sometimes intense rainfall events. However, the goal is to manage our stormwater runoff so that no water is present in structures, roadways remain free of flooding in accordance with their designed level of service and that yards and drainage systems return to normal within 72 hours.

Funding: Stormwater Management has been funded in the past through property taxes and other general fund revenues. Many projects were deferred to pay for more critical operations such as police and fire. However, what one pays for stormwater management should be related to what is actually passed off the parcel into the County's stormwater system, not the value of the property from which it came.

2. What is a Stormwater Utility?

A Stormwater Utility is to stormwater what a sewer utility is to sewage, and a water utility is to drinking water. It is a "stand-alone" service unit within the County government, which generates revenues through fees for service. A stormwater utility is responsible for funding the operation, construction and maintenance of stormwater management devices, for stormwater system planning, and management. A stormwater utility generates its revenue through user fees and the revenues from the stormwater charges will go into a separate fund that may only be used for stormwater services.

How much is the fee?
Starting with the 2006 tax roll, developed residential parcels will be charged at flat fee of $40.00 and developed commercial parcels will be charge a flat fee of $200.00. Qualified senior citizens, disabled veterans and disabled persons shall be exempt from the payment of the stormwater utility fee for residential developed property for that parcel of real property, which is the homestead of the qualified citizen. In addition, community cemeteries shall be exempt.

What is a Qualified Senior Citizen Exemption?
Qualified Senior Citizen' is a person who qualifies for the additional homestead exemption pursuant to Ordinance No. 99-21 (codified in Bay County Code Section 14-6).

What is a Disabled Veterans Exemption?
The homestead of any individual who qualifies for the additional disabled veteran ad valorem homestead exemption under §196.081 or §196.091, Florida Statutes.

What is a Disabled Person Exemption?
The homestead of any individual who annually qualifies for the additional disabled person ad valorem homestead exemption under §196.101, Florida Statutes.

What is a Community Cemetery?
"Community Cemetery" means any small, stand-alone burial ground, without any owner of record, historically used for interments by members of the community.

What is a developed Property?
Developed property means real property, which has been altered from "natural" state by the addition of any improvements such as a building, structure or impervious surface.

How is developed residential parcels defined?
"Residential Developed Property" means each developed parcel the Property Appraiser has classified as land use type 1, 2, 4, 5 and 50, under the land use classifications (type) of the Florida Department of Revenue as set forth in §12D - 8.008, Florida Administrative Code. Each unit in a condominium shall be a separate "residential Developed Property".

How is developed commercial parcels defined?
"Non Residential Developed Property" means each developed parcel the Property Appraiser has classified as land use type (classifications) 3, 6, 8, 11 through 39, 41 through 49, and 71 through 79 under the land use classifications of the Florida Department of Revenue, as set forth in §12D - 8.008, Florida Administrative Code

What is a Florida Department of Revenue Land Use Type?
The Florida Department of Revenue land use is classified and described as follows:

0000
0100
0200
0300
0400
0500
0600
0700
0800
1000
1000 - 3900
4000
4100 - 4900
5000
7000
7100 - 7900
- Vacant Residential Parcels
- Single Family
- Mobile Homes
- Multi Family 10+
- Condominium
- Cooperatives
- Retirement Homes
- Miscellaneous Residential
- Multi Family 10-
- Vacant Commercial
- Improved Commercial
- Vacant Industrial
- Improved Industrial
- Improved Agricultural
- Institutional Vacant
- Institutional

Property owners can find their parcel land use classifications by doing a property search on the Property Appraisers Website external link. The classification is listed as property type.

What if the information regarding my parcel type is incorrect and therefore am billed incorrectly in the tax bill in November? How do I get it corrected?

The parcel information to include land use type and senior citizen exemption are obtained from the Property Appraiser and is based on the last certified tax roll.

Should you find any discrepancies in the parcel information used for the stormwater utility billing and fee, we will take your information, please contact the Engineering Division at the following address: 840 West 11th Street, Panama City, Fl 32401 or email address at engstormwater@baycountyfl.gov, or call 850-248-8301. We shall verify the information and coordinate with the property appraisers to make corrections.

How will the Stormwater Utility Fee be billed? The charge is a service fee, not a tax. However, to save administrative costs, it will be billed annually on the property tax bill and collected by the tax collector.

How much money will the County collect from the stormwater charge? The flat fee stormwater charge will generate an estimated $1.5 million.

What period of time does the stormwater charge cover and when will the stormwater charge be payable? The stormwater charge is re-imposed annually and is payable, as part of your tax bill, each year between November 1 and March 31.

I don't pay taxes now due to homestead exemption. Will I have to pay the stormwater charge? Yes, unless you are a qualified senior citizen, disabled veteran or disabled person. Stormwater charges are different than ad valorem taxes and the stormwater charge applies to all developed property uses regardless of homestead exemption. See above for Exemptions.

I received a discount for early payment of my taxes. Will I receive the same discount for my stormwater charge? Yes. The same discounts and penalties applicable to ad valorem taxes will also apply to stormwater charges collected on the tax bill.

I currently claim a deduction for property taxes on my income tax return each year; can I claim a deduction for this stormwater charge? This is a question for your tax adviser. However, generally a stormwater charge against your residence is not a valid income tax deduction. However, if you own rental property or a business, the stormwater charge may be deductible when computing your income taxes. Please contact your accountant or income tax preparer for information regarding your specific situation.

I have a tenant in my house. Should the tenant pay the stormwater charge or will I have to pay it as the property owner? Like property taxes, stormwater charges are billed to property owners only; each property owner or landlord will have to determine how the tenant should share in the stormwater charge costs.

Is the accompanying notice a bill? No, this is preliminary notice of the stormwater charge that will appear as an additional line item on your property tax bill in November.

If a property is considered high and dry, why is it charged? TThere may not be a problem on a specific piece of property or in a neighborhood, but the runoff from the property and the neighbor's property contributes proportionately to the County's overall stormwater system. All of those who enjoy living in Bay County benefit from positive actions to manage stormwater problems, and they all suffer when these problems are not addressed.

How will problems such as street flooding be solved? The County is developing a Capital Improvement Plan, which will outline the projects, which will be undertaken to reduce pollution and minimize flooding. The County staff is aware of many drainage problems, but if a citizen knows of others, they can call the Roads and Bridges Division at 850-784-4050 to report problems. Not every drainage problem can be fixed immediately (it has taken nearly 100 years to create the present situation), but the County is committed to working to solve these problems as quickly as possible.

Is growth and new development the cause of all of these problems? New development approved and built in the County since 1991 have had to meet strict regulations on the quality and quantity of stormwater runoff. New development is required to contain and treat their polluted stormwater runoff, but in older neighborhoods, retrofitting stormwater is costly and sometimes difficult. Many of our current problems are caused by stormwater runoff from development occurring before 1991. Today's cost to remove, replace and upgrade old pipes and drainage systems exceeds the cost to build new systems.

Where can I get more information? If you have a question regarding the stormwater charge, you may contact the County Engineering Division at (850) 248-8301, Monday - Friday between 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.