Recently, OpinionWorks, LLC, a non-partisan research firm, polled Delaware residents regarding their opinions and attitudes towards clean water. While residents believe there is a significant water quality problem in Delaware, 82% of residents believe the problem can be fixed. We believe this, too! One possible way we could secure funding for clean water is by implementing a tax or fee. By a margin of over 25 points, polling shows that Delawareans would support a state clean water fee.
One proposal to implement a clean water fee would be to include a charge of about $3.75 per month on each residents’ property tax bill. This would equal about $48.00 per year. In this proposal businesses would also pay a property tax increase calculated on a sliding scale, depending on its size. The maximum amount levied would be $25,000 for the largest of corporations. Adding a slight amount to property taxes may be the fairest and most cost-effective method to secure funding for important clean water initiatives, as it would be applied equally to each Delaware resident and would not require much administrative cost as property taxes are already being collected.
Another proposal includes implementing a stormwater utility. More than 800 local governments and communities in the United States have adopted a stormwater utility to create a dedicated and sustainable funding source to finance the updates, operation and maintenance of stormwater, water quality, and watershed programs required to meet federal regulatory requirements. Stormwater utilities come in all shapes and sizes. Most options include accessing a fee based on the amount of non-aborbent, unnatural, surfaces a residence or business has on their property. These surfaces, called impervious surfaces, directly contribute to stormwater runoff because impervious surfaces are not able to soak up the stormwater before reaching our waterways. While stormwater utilities may be effective in some ways, the fee would only be assessed on those relying on public sewer systems for water supply. Additionally, it could be costly for state and local governments to assess the amount of impervious surfaces located on properties across the state.
Public Private Partnerships are also a common way to meet funding needs. A public-private partnership (PPP or P3) is a service which is funded and operated through a partnership of government agencies and private sector companies. PPPs often harness the expertise and efficiencies that the private sector can bring to provide services to a government agency’s constituency. In many, but not all, cases, the private sector will provide capital investment on the basis of a contract with that government agency to provide agreed upon services. PPPs come in many different forms, but have the common goal of coming together to bring the efficiencies of both sectors at a shared cost.