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Sunday, July 21, 2024

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Stone Harbor Likely to Push Stormwater Utility Study to 2025

Stone Harbor Likely to Push Stormwater Utility Study to 2025

By Vince Conti

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STONE HARBOR – The borough’s 2024 municipal budget allocated $375,000 for a feasibility study on establishing a stormwater utility. The Stone Harbor Property Owners Association came out in favor of the study.

All seemed moving toward initiating the study until Councilwoman Robin Casper, chair of the utilities standing committee, announced at the council’s Tuesday, July 2, meeting that her committee was recommending a delay, pushing the start date to sometime in 2025.

According to Casper, her committee feels the borough would be well-served by waiting a year to initiate the feasibility study, providing time for Stone Harbor to study the experience of other New Jersey towns that are taking up the issue.

Council members did not respond to Casper’s announcement. Council authorization is required for the study to go forward.

The increasing frequency of heavy rain events coupled with aging stormwater infrastructure in many municipalities led New Jersey to offer the option of municipal stormwater utilities in 2019.

In theory, a stormwater utility presents an option for funding improvements that hits hardest financially at the properties that are responsible for the greatest amount of stormwater runoff. It links fees levied on properties to the amount of impervious surfaces that contribute to runoff.

The intent is to remove from the property tax levy the burden of funding many of the necessary improvements to stormwater infrastructure, using instead the fees generated from the utility. The utility is also intended to create an incentive for property owners to reduce the amount of their runoff as a way of reducing the fees they pay.

Utilities of this type are not new, with more than 1,700 such entities nationwide. They are new to New Jersey, where no such utilities were in operation prior to the recent announcement that New Brunswick will go operational with such a utility this month. Several other state municipalities are at various stages of study or are in actual preparation for stormwater utilities.

Contact the reporter, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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