Tuesday, October 1, 2013
FAQ: 21 customer questions about the #StormwaterProgram ruling, fees, billing, and more
Updated February 16, 2015
We understand many customers have questions about their bills following last week's news that we can no longer collect fees for stormwater management. We have already begun fielding questions in our Customer Service department and online, and these appear to be the most common so far.
If you have other questions not listed here, leave us a comment and we will provide an answer for you.
1. What is the court’s ruling?
The Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled September 26, 2013 that the Sewer District did not have the authority to pursue its Regional Stormwater Management Program and cannot charge the stormwater service fee. The Sewer District has been enjoined (prevented) from implementing the program. Read the decision.
2. Why did the court decide this?
The court stated that the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6119 that outlines the authority of the Regional Sewer District did not give us the authority to enact this program.
3. What happens next?
The Sewer District appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio. We are confident that we will be successful as we have been in lower court. UPDATE 2015 02/16: Watch the oral arguments from September 9, 2014
4. Should I pay past stormwater bills I have received?
If you have not already sent your payment in, you do not have to pay it at this time.
5. What if I already paid my stormwater bill?
If you have already sent your payment in, all funds will be put into an escrow account and held until the Supreme Court makes its ruling.
6. Should I continue with stormwater improvements on my property?
Absolutely. The problems that stormwater causes will not go away on their own. You efforts will protect our environment and improve water quality.
7. I want to request a refund from the Sewer District. How do I make a claim?
At this time, the Court has not ordered the Sewer District to return any monies already collected. Therefore, all monies received will be put into an escrow account and held until the Supreme Court makes its ruling. We are not providing refunds of stormwater payments.
8. Do I have to pay the charges that currently exist on my bill?
You are only exempted from paying the stormwater fee. All other charges are due as usual.
9. What happens to the money that has already been paid to the District for stormwater?
All money that is collected will be put into an escrow account and held until the Supreme Court has ruled on this matter.
10. Not receiving a refund is unacceptable. How is that legal, especially if the funds were paid to a program that has been discontinued?
The Sewer District received a ruling from the Common Pleas Court that allowed us to proceed with the program. The Court of Appeals ruling orders us to stop. We are complying with each court decision and are taking this to a higher court, the Supreme Court of Ohio. We are confident in a positive ruling.
11. How can you start a program without total consensus from all municipalities within your service area?
The Sewer District and the Court of Common Pleas agreed that we had the authority to proceed with our program. Consent from each municipally was not required. We are expecting a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court of Ohio on this matter.
12. When can I expect my refund?
The Sewer District will appeal the Appellate Court decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio. We anticipate that they will rule in our favor. Until then, all stormwater fees collected will be held in an escrow account.
13. Will the current stormwater projects that have begun under the program continue? and if so, how will they be financed?
The court has ordered us to discontinue stormwater program services and activities and the collection of fees. We will comply with the court’s decision.
14. Can I pay my stormwater fee?
The Sewer District has recently received a ruling from the Court of Appeals that stops our program. We will appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio. Until the Supreme Court rules, we will not be collecting stormwater fees.
15. Did the Sewer District appeal?
Yes. We are confident that the Ohio Supreme Court will rule in our favor and the good work of this program will continue. Hear the oral arguments presented to the Ohio Supreme Court.
16. What will happen to my stormwater credit application?
We will hold your application and contact you when the program resumes.
17. How much money have you collected so far?
We anticipated collecting $20 million in 2013. We collected approximately $17 million. All money collected for this program will be put into an escrow account pending the Supreme Court of Ohio’s ruling.
18. Did you reduce staff?
We did not reduce staff. Many employees who contributed to our stormwater-related work have redirected their efforts to Project Clean Lake.
19. When the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Sewer District, will I owe for the time the program was suspended?
No, you will only be charged going forward.
20. How does this decision affect Project Clean Lake?
Project Clean Lake will continue as planned.
21. How are you keeping customers informed?
At this stage, the latest links and information will be shared on our official @neorsd Twitter account, Facebook page, this blog, and neorsd.org/stormwater. You may also contact our Customer Service department (216) 881-8247. As details emerge, we will explore other resources to ensure you have the latest and most accurate information.
photo credit: mhaithaca via photopin cc
Posted by Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District at 3:48 PM
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Will the money in escrow go towards all of these court fees, or will they be coming from somewhere else?ReplyDelete
Thank you for your question. The Court fees will be paid by the Sewer District, but not from the fees in escrow.Delete
I am an EZ-PAY customer. Will I receive a credit for the stormwater charge which is included in my latest bill ( to be paid on 10/17/13)? Or will the amount be deducted prior to the time that my bill is submitted to my bank?ReplyDelete
Thank you for your question. We recommend you contact Cleveland Water to suspend the EZ-PAY account transaction for this one billing cycle only. In doing so, you may make your payment over the phone via credit card, or by check, and therefore not pay the stormwater fee charged on this bill. You can contact Cleveland Water at 216 664-3130.Delete
Please be sure to contact Cleveland Water at least one week before your bill is due to ensure the proper suspension of your EZ-PAY transaction.
If you can't charge it, why is it on the bill in the first place?ReplyDelete
The stormwater management program was authorized last year in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas (Read more). We moved forward based on that ruling and began collecting fees in January 2013 as authorized. Last year's decision was appealed and the higher court has overturned that ruling, thus suspending our program.Delete
Any idea of when the supreme court will rule on this?ReplyDelete
We won't know for some time. We will keep customers informed throughout the appeals process.Delete
why was I being charged for water that runs off my roof when my gutters go directly into the ground?ReplyDelete
Our regional stormwater management program was designed to address stream issues caused by stormwater runoff speed and volume, primarily flooding, erosion, and water quality. The impervious surfaces on your property (driveways, rooftops, patios, etc.) contribute to that; all of ours do. The fee was based on the square-footage of impervious surface on your property, regardless of whether the runoff is directed to a storm sewer pipe or stream, because that runoff directly or indirectly contributes to stream problems throughout our service area.Delete
Why doesn't everyone have to pay into the program. I have asked other people if they have to pay this and they have never received a bill, I have gotten two so far.ReplyDelete
Most customers should have seen one or two billing cycles that reflected a stormwater charge since January.Delete
I find the question and aswers hilarious! I guess you haven't realized that the Majority of the people think your tax hike is ridiculous! Lets hope the Supreme Court upholds the lower court decision!ReplyDelete
I am an EZ-Pay customer. On 10/16/13, you charged and deducted from my account for stormwater fee, which is in direct violation of the court order. Based on your answer to question #19, I will never have to pay the stormwater fee for the prior quarter even if upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. Do I have to sue to get my money back?ReplyDelete
If the Supreme Court rules in favor of NEORSD, will the money that is in escrow be applied to future charges for those of us that have unwittingly paid the stormwater bill?ReplyDelete
Thank you for your question. Since we are taking no action with any escrow funds during the program suspension and appeals process, that decision has not yet been made. We will certainly let customers know as soon as we do.Delete
One way to keep informed is by joining our mail list, or checking in on this blog. Thanks for following.
If you win in the supreme court,I want my property to be visited by a person from NERSD,as I put ZERO runoff into any storm sewer,lake,retenition or detention basin,stream,or river,in fact,my property receives hundreds of thousands of gallons of rainwater from the street I live on,that is the only stormwater runoff that goes anywhere from my property,as every gutter/downspout on the home,and the detached garage flows into a cistern used for watering my very large garden,and multiple flower beds.ReplyDelete
As ZERO runoff leaves my property,I should not be charged anything,and the county-(that is who is in charge of maintenance of the street)-should be charged for the runoff from the road,and the erosion of my and my one neighbors property.
I dont understand how my sewer bill is $200 MORE than my regular water bill. Furthermore, how does the NEORSD have the authority to send me a notice of intended service disconnection, if no fees are to be paid at this time??ReplyDelete
Thanks for your questions. The only fee we have suspended is our Stormwater Management Program fee. All other NEORSD or local charges on your bill should be paid as usual.Delete
If you'd like more information about your specific charges, I'd be happy to help. Email me at AskUs at neorsd dot org and I can look into it. ~John
My property has been severely damaged by flooding because of storm water (and bad engineering/design). I was been in limbo for years waiting to hear it anyone will accept responsibility.
What is the status of the case?
Thanks for your comments. Like you, we are waiting now for a decision from the Ohio Supreme Court. We have made our case and wait until the justices have ruled.Delete