Drainage Utility Fee To Go Into Effect: Fee ordinance approved by City Commission in January to help fund projects in the City’s Master Drainage Plan

by Office of Communications | Mar 19, 2018

After two public meetings held at two different community centers to inform residents about a proposed drainage utility fee and a public hearing at a City Commission at the first meeting in January where concerned residents could voice their opinion, as well as listening to a drainage needs presentation by City of McAllen Engineering Department during a Commission workshop, McAllen City Commissioners voted to implement the drainage utility fee to help fund projects in the City’s Master Drainage Plan.  The drainage utility fee goes into effect on March 15. 


“The City of McAllen had identified 66 projects, totaling over $46 million to address the drainage issues throughout the city,” said City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez., P.E.  “The need is great and urgent, but too costly to be able to be funded completely by the current revenue collected into the general fund of the City budget. This fee allows the City of McAllen to be able to fund some of those projects sooner, rather than later.”


Residents will see a charge on their utility bill that is based on the Equivalent Residential Unit.


The Equivalent Residential Unit – E.R.U. – is the average impervious cover for single family residential lots in the city of McAllen.  The E.R.U. was calculated by using Hidalgo County Appraisal District Date to obtain an average impervious cover from all single family residential lots in the city and adding an average driveway area of 600 square feet.  Pools, sidewalks and sheds were excluded from this formula.   One E.R.U. is equivalent to 2,700 square feet of impervious cover.  Based on this formula, the fee for a home with dimensions of 2,700 square feet will be $1.50 per month.  The fee is also applicable to non-residential properties, on the same basis of E.R.U.  A business with 30,000 square feet of impervious cover will pay a fee of $16.67 per month. 


While the fees vary depending on the impervious cover, the minimum to be charged will be $1 a month and the maximum will be $75 per month, which will be assessed to commercial properties.


The drainage utility fee is guided by state law and is similar to water, sewer and other utilities; however, its function is to address storm water management within the city.   While some other cities in Texas and the Rio Grande Valley have monthly drainage utility fees for both residential and commercial, McAllen’s is the lowest fee for residential and still one of the lowest for commercial properties.


The fee is proposed to be continued until sufficient funds are collected for the identified projects, collecting $11.21 million.  The fee will be evaluated by the McAllen City Commission in five years of continuous operation of the system.  Once the sufficient fees are collected for the identified projects, the City Commission can determine whether to continue, lower, raise or discontinue the fee.   The projects will be constructed as funds become available.  Most projects take approximately 12-18 months to complete.


The fee can only be used to construct drainage improvement projects, including installing new structures, widening ditches, creating storm water detention facilities and for operation and maintenance costs for public works drainage projects for those areas already identified as priority by the McAllen City Commission in the City’s Master Drainage Plan.


Working with staff, a number of different funding options, including applying for drainage grants through FEMA and administered by the State of Texas, have been identified to raise the additional money needed for all these projects.


For more information, contact the City of McAllen Engineering Department at 681-1160.

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