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Many homeowners and businesses initially will save money when the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District restructures its storm-water rates March 1, but some organizations, such as school districts, that don't pay property taxes will face increases of thousands of dollars.
Tax-exempt organizations have nothing to offset the district's new charge for impervious areas — property that won't absorb water, such as roofs, driveways, patios and parking lots.
District trustees tentatively approved on Thursday a charge of 12 cents for each 100 square feet of impervious area. At the same time, the district plans to eliminate its property taxes, which can reach 17 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation, depending on the subdistrict of the customer. The impervious charge rate would increase each year until it reaches 29 cents in 2014.
Currently every customer —whether a homeowner or a large corporation — pays 24 cents a month for storm-water control service. New rates would affect about 440,000 customers in St. Louis and most of St. Louis County.
Trustees will take a final vote on the rate increase in mid-November.
Owners of houses worth $200,000 with a typical impervious area of 2,500 square feet and a 17-cent total sewer district tax rate now pay a total of $67 a year. Under the new rate structure, the owners would save $31 a year. But by 2014 such owners would pay $20 a year more to the district.
Brian Hoelscher, director of engineering for the district, said the only way customers could reduce the charge was to shrink their impervious area. For example, they could install roofs with vegetation that absorbs water or special paving on less-used parking lots that does the same thing, he said. The district can change charges, because every other winter it will take aerial photos of its territory, he said. Property owners also can notify the district of changes in their impervious area, he said.