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Water Permit Fee Increases - MS4 General Permit

January 28, 2020

The MPCA is holding a series of meetings to discuss their concepts for water permit fees increases, including the MS4 General Permit fees. There are three meetings at outstate locations and a Twin Cities meeting that will be webcast to rooms in multiple MPCA regional offices.

  1. Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. Douglas County Library, Large Conference Room, 720 Fillmore Street, Alexandria, MN 56308. 
  2. Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Marshall-Lyon County Library Community Room. 201 C Street, Marshall, MN 56258. 
  3. Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. MPCA St. Paul office Lower Level Conference Rooms. 520 Lafayette Road. St. Paul, MN 55102 and by videoconference at: 
  • MPCA Brainerd office videoconference room. 7678 College Road, Suite 105, Baxter, MN 56425. 
  • MPCA Detroit Lakes office videoconference room. 714 Lake Avenue, Suite 220, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501. 
  • MPCA Duluth office videoconference room. 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400, Duluth, MN 55802. 
  • MPCA Mankato office videoconference room. 12 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 2165, Mankato, MN 56001. 
  • MPCA Marshall office videoconference room. 504 Fairgrounds Road, Suite 200, Marshall, MN 56258 
  • MPCA Rochester office videoconference room. 18 Wood Lake Drive SE, Rochester, MN 55904 
  • Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. Olmsted County Government Center, Board Chambers,151 4th Street SE, Rochester, MN 55904.

These meetings may be of particular interest to APWA-MN members because the MPCA is proposing increasing the fees for the MS4 General Permit by approximately 43 times, across the entire program.

The MPCA posted some details about their proposals to their website on Monday, Jan. 27. One of the items they posted is a table describing the proposed MS4 General Permit fee increases for various types and sizes of permittees. Unfortunately, their table expressed the current permit fee in terms of the entire 5-year permit cycle. In the adjacent column, they expressed the proposed fees as annual fees. This information was shown in the column headings.

Please see the table below. The two columns at the right side are highlighted to emphasize some points. In one column, the proposed new fees are shown as the cost for five years, so it can be better compared with the current fee. The second column lists the comparison between the current 5-year fee and the proposed new 5-year fees. There is information at the end of the table describing the current and proposed fees for the entire program.

MS4 Permit Fee Increase - MPCA Proposal

         

January 2020

             

Excerpted from MPCA Concept Document for Rulemaking

         

Columns & rows added by Randy Neprash, PE for MCSC

         
               

Type of Permittee

Fee based on

Fee Detail

Current Fee (every five years)

30% Fee Scenario (annual fee)

30% Fee Scenario (every five years)

Comparison with current fee (rounded)

City or township

Population

1,000 or fewer

$400

$500

$2,500

6

 times

1,000 - 3,000

$400

$1,000

$5,000

13

 times

3,001 - 10,000

$400

$2,000

$10,000

25

 times

 

 

10,001 - 30,000

$400

$4,000

$20,000

50

 times

30,001 - 50,000

$400

$6,000

$30,000

75

 times

50,001 - 75,000

$400

$9,000

$45,000

113

 times

75,001 - 100,000

$400

$12,000

$60,000

150

 times

100,000+

$400

$18,000

$90,000

225

 times

County

Percent urbanized area

0% - 24%

$400

$1,000

$5,000

13

 times

25% - 49%

$400

$2,000

$10,000

25

 times

50%+

$400

$3,000

$15,000

38

 times

Non-traditional (colleges, prisons, etc.)

Developed land (acres)

0 - 149

$400

$500

$2,500

6

 times

150+

$400

$1,000

$5,000

13

 times

MnDOT

Flat fee

$400

$3,000

$15,000

38

 times

Watershed districts

Flat fee

$400

$500

$2,500

6

 times

               

Program Cost

Current fee revenue

% covered by fees

30% Cost Fees (rounded)

Comparison with current fee (rounded)

   

$2,909,391

$20,240

0.70%

$873,000

43

times

   

 

MCSC has many questions about these fee increases. We will prepare a list of these questions and distribute them later this week. Please send your questions and concerns ASAP to Randy Neprash, PE, Staff, Minnesota Cities Stormwater Coalition, randy.neprash@stantec.com.

Now, more details.

The MPCA started work on this rulemaking in the first part of 2017. They offered ideas and sought written comments in June 2017. Partly in response to the comments received, the MPCA convened a Water Fee Advisory Committee in late 2017, with members from cities, businesses, and sanitary districts that hold water permits. This Committee met from January through June of 2018 and posted several findings in January 2019:

  • Current fee revenue for the MPCA's water programs is inadequate to support its water quality regulatory programs.
  • Although no one wants fee increases, raising fees is reasonable given the circumstances. Some committee members did indicate a preference for additional revenue coming from the General Fund rather than fee increases, while others expressed a concern about relying on the General Fund. 
  • Fee changes should account for increasing costs over time, but the increases should be based on documentation of actual costs rather than a pre‐determined variable, such as the Consumer Price Index.
  • The MPCA should continue to employ both annual operating fees and permit application fees, depending on the program.
  • City representatives tend to favor annual fees, to assist in budgeting and planning, while members from businesses tend to favor application or application‐plus‐annual fees.
  • The MPCA should use additional fee revenue to increase and improve interactions with permittees.
  • For the municipal stormwater program, the MPCA should consider a tiered fee structure based on population size, or other measures of community size or economic activity.
  • The agency should phase in any fee increase over at least three to six years.

The MPCA's leading proposal for the water program fee increases includes the following principles:

  • Increasing fees so that revenue covers 30% of costs of each regulatory program. 
  • Using tiered approaches to make fees equitable (e.g., small cities should pay a smaller stormwater fee than large cities pay). 
  • Not changing fees for regulatory programs where fee-payers already pay more than 30% of program costs (Construction stormwater and industrial stormwater are the only programs that meet this condition). 
  • Exploring the need to raise the fees for subsurface sewage treatment systems (SSTS) professional licenses/certifications and enacting a fee to cover the cost for salt applicator training classes.

The table above reflects their leading proposal for MS4 General Permit fees. It appears that they intend to phase these fee increases over a 3 - 6 year period.

Here are the appropriate web links:

Rulemaking Web page - includes sign-up for Email notifications (scroll down on the page)
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/amendments-water-quality-fee-rules

Request for comments and public meeting notice
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-rule4-19g.pdf

Water Fees Rule Concept Document (Jan. 2020) - 12 pages
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-rule4-19f.pdf

Water Fee Advisory Committee: Findings and Recommendations (Jan. 2019) - 18 pages
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-rap2-7.pdf

Water Fee Advisory Committee Web page
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/water-fee-advisory-committee

Current funding sources, multiple water programs - 1 page
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-rap2-5c.pdf

Expenditures & fees, multiple programs - 1 page
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-rap2-5b.pdf

MS4 program - optional scenarios - 1 page
https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-rap2-5h.pdf

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