The Ohio Supreme Court will hear a stormwater fee case raised by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) on September 9. NEORSD implemented a fee in January 2013 to pay for its separate stormwater management program, a program that helps to reduce flooding of homes and streets, erosion of roads and stream banks, and surface pollution into Lake Erie and local waterways. The fee is separate from NEORSD’s Project Clean Lake and related consent decree to reduce combined sewer overflows. Average user fees are $60.60 per year and based on a property’s impervious surface area.
However, eight communities in the Greater Cleveland area challenged the fee in court, calling it a tax that was not voted for. While the common pleas court ruled in favor of NEORSD, a ruling by the Eighth District Ohio Court of Appeals in September of 2013 overturned that decision. Now the Ohio Supreme Court will settle whether NEORSD has the authority to create and implement a regional stormwater management program and operate stormwater facilities not associated with combined sewer systems. And, should NEORSD be authorized to establish a fee for the construction, operation, and maintenance of those facilities and programs?