Central Pa. Democrats support bill to ensure state government pays stormwater fees

HARRISBURG, May 31 – State Reps. Justin Fleming and Dave Madsen, both D-Dauphin, urge support for H.B. 2147, which mandates the state government to pay municipal stormwater fees.

“While federal and state regulations are necessary to improve and protect water quality, our municipalities have limited ways to pay for these critical infrastructure projects,” Fleming said. “The state’s failure to pay its fair share for stormwater fees has placed an unfair financial burden on local taxpayers who are left to foot the bill for the state’s obligations.”

“Local governments face fines if they fail to comply with stormwater guidelines, and it’s unfair that they are left covering the costs when the commonwealth doesn’t pay up,” Madsen said. “All property owners, including the state, should be held accountable for their contributions to stormwater runoff.”

The stormwater fee is based on the amount of impervious area a property has, which directly contributes to stormwater runoff and the overall demand on the stormwater management system. These fees are proportional to the cost of services rendered and are not property taxes that can be used for general local government purposes. Tax-exempt properties, including commonwealth properties, should therefore be responsible for paying these user fees, the representatives said.

The bill’s advancement comes as a Pennsylvania House panel recognized the financial strain that local governments face due to the state’s current exemption from paying stormwater fees. In 2022, Capital Region Water misses out on $386,956 annually because the state refuses to pay for the nearly 5.4 million square feet of impervious surface it owns in Harrisburg. This exemption has led to an outstanding balance of over $1.4 million that the state owes.

“This legislation will ensure that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pays its fair share, just like any other property owner,” Fleming added. “It’s a matter of fairness and responsibility. By supporting locally created and controlled stormwater programs, we can ensure clean and abundant water for all Pennsylvanians.”