Ruling Lets NEORSD Push Ahead With New Fee, Stormwater Projects

Cedar Heights debris removal by NEORSD crew in 2013 (pic: NEORSD)
Cedar Heights debris removal by NEORSD crew in 2013 (pic: NEORSD)

By ideastream's Brian Bull

Critical drains and passes beneath bridges blocked by leaves or tree limbs…streams whose banks have eroded….those are some of the problems that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) will begin tackling now that the Ohio Supreme Court has decided that stormwater maintenance is part of the sewer district’s job.  

NEORSD plans to ask a Cuyahoga County court to release some $20 million being held in escrow, which had been generated by the sewer district's stormwater management program was briefly active from January to September 2013. 

Five years ago, eight suburbs challenged the sewer district’s right to charge a fee for stormwater maintenance.   An appellate court put the fee on hold in 2013. 

But with Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision, residents and businesses can expect to see the fee again in a future billing cycle soon.

Julius Ciaccia is the CEO for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.  He says they’ll work with the Cleveland Water Department to incorporate the fee once they figure out what’s best to charge.  But he already has an estimate for residents who live in Cleveland and 60 suburban areas.

“For the average residential user, it’s going to be about $10 to $15 dollars a month," says Ciacci. "We believe that we can generate about $35 million to $40 million dollars of revenues from this program, of which 25 percent would go back to each individual community.”

Ciaccia says communities will be able to spend the money on stormwater problems including water runoff from parking lots and roads as well as local flooding issues. He estimates that erosion and debris issues will largely subside within 5 to 10 years. 

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