If you live in Warminster and are a customer of the Warminster Municipal Authority, you have probably already received a letter from them explaining the new storm water fee that will begin showing up in your bill in 2022. If you’re not sure what this is all about, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll give you as much information on this topic as we can.
Water, Sewer, Storm Water
Water and Sewer
Your water bill is currently made up of two parts: water and sewer. In 2022, there will be a third part to your bill when a Storm Water Fee is soon added. The water portion of your bill is for the water that is delivered to your home or business by the WMA. The amount that you pay is based on your water usage for that billing period. Currently, we pay $5.41 for every 1,000 gallons used. The sewer charge that you pay is for the water that leaves your property through your drains (sink, tub, etc). This amount is also based on the amount of water that you use during the billing period and is billed at a rate of $5.49 per 1,000 gallons used.
Prior to 2021, the storm water system in Warminster was the responsibility of the township, but that now falls on the Warminster Municipal Authority after the township sold the system to them for $6 million to balance the 2020 budget. The Storm Water fee or, as we’ll call it here, the “Rain Tax”, which should start appearing on your bill in 2022, is calculated using a tier system (see chart below) using the amount of impervious surfaces on your property. An impervious surface is a surface that prevents or restricts water from soaking into the ground. Some examples of impervious surfaces are your house, sheds, decks, driveway, etc. There are six tiers in all. The first five tiers have a flat rate based on the square footage of impervious surfaces on your property. The top tier (greater than 6,999 Sq Ft) is a calculated as of $10 per 3,000 sq ft of impervious surface.
How the Rain Tax is calculated
Most residential properties (about 62%) have between 2,000 and 3,999 sq ft of impervious coverage on their properties, and those properties will be charged $10/month, or $30/quarter, depending on whether you monthly or quarterly billing. Some properties have less and some have more. Using the chart above, you can see the flat rate you'll pay based on your square footage of impervious coverage on your property. If your property has more than 6,999 sq ft of impervious surface, you’ll be charged $10 for every 3,000 square feet of impervious coverage. (see example below). The 3,000 square feet
If your property has 9,000 square feet of impervious surface, the calculation will look like this:
9,000sqft / 3,000 = 3 ERU (Equivalent Residential Unit)
3 x 10 = $30 (this would be your monthly charge)
Why create this new tax?
The whole reason behind the Storm Water Fee is due to an unfunded mandate by the Obama administration that requires towns like Warminster to ensure that their storm water systems are managing their systems and not just dumping polluted water into the nearby waterways. In Warminster, the storm water system feeds directly into the creeks and streams in and around the township. Furthermore, much of the storm water system in the township is reaching or has already reached its lifespan. Much of it has deteriorated and needs to be repaired and/or replaced.
Here’s a breakdown of how many parcels will pay each amount:
10% of the properties will be charged $6/month
8% of the properties will be charged $8/month
62% of the properties will be charged $10/month
9% of the properties will be charged $12/month
5% of the properties will be charged $14/month
6% of the properties will be charged $10 per 3,000 sq ft of impervious surface.
The following is a random sampling of properties in Warminster and the expected ANNUAL charge for the rain tax:
Average residential homeowner $96 - $144 per year
Warminster Township – Budgeted for $127,000 for 2022.
Centennial School District – $80,000
Archbishop Wood – $16,000
Nativity of Our Lord – $11,000
Ann’s Choice – $80,000
Christ’s Home – $45,000
Warminster Heights HOA - $48,000
Walmart – $17,000
Costco – $21,000
Towne Center Shopping Center – $47,000
Center Point Shopping Center – $46,000
Rosemore Shopping Center – $16,000
NATC – $58,000
Villas at Five Ponds
- Individual properties $120 - $144
- Homeowners Association - $13,000
There have been some discussions about providing and opportunity to get a reduction on your rain tax of a couple of dollars per month. This could be done by installing water mitigation features on your properties. Some features might include rain barrels or rain gardens, or by attending a storm water educational session. While these were discussed, there is no active plan as the program begins in early 2022. If and when there are opportunities to add a feature to your property to offset some of the cost, you’ll have to evaluate the cost of that feature (i.e., rain garden) vs the savings that you’ll net by adding that feature.
What Will It Really Cost?
Direct Tax to Property Owners
The $8, or $10, or $12 per month might not seem like a lot of money to some people, but $10 per month is tantamount to a 20% tax increase for the typical homeowner in Warminster. If you're a senior on a fixed income, this is alot of money as it is in addition to the 4% tax hike that was passed for 2022 as well as the 35% tax hike in 2020, not to mention the annual increases in School District taxes.
Indirect Tax to Property Owners
Since the township and the School District also must pay this rain tax, both will need to make up for the $127,000 and $80,000, respectively for those two taxing entities. This will come in the form of increase taxes in the future or a cut in services.
Other Potential Costs to Residents
With every parcel of land in the mix for this new rain tax, business rents could increase, and this additional cost will be passed on to the customers of these businesses. People who live in apartment buildings may also see their rent increase to cover the cost of this new tax. If you send your child to Nativity of Our Lord and/or Archbishop Wood, you can expect tuition or fees to be increased to cover this new expense. Even your church will need to pay up.
The Increasing Cost Of Living In Warminster
Back in 2016, Warminster was as relatively inexpensive place to live. Taxes were reasonable and the water rates were low. Now, just 5 years later it’s starting to feel like we’re living in New Jersey.
Municipal Taxes - up over 41% (all since 2019)
School Taxes - up nearly 19% higher
County Taxes - up about 5% higher
Warminster Municipal Authority rates/fees since 2016
Water rates have increased over 87%
Water service fees have increased 7% (**)
Sewer rates have increased nearly 6%
Sewer service fees increased nearly 7%
Additional rain tax to be added in 2022 (see your costs above)
If you have any questions about this new tax, don't hesitate to drop us an email by clicking on the "About Us" option above and filing out the email form.
** - The water service fee was originally incorrectly reported and has been corrected.
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