|UPDATE 2013 09/30: Late Thursday, the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled against the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in finding that, among other things, the Sewer District does not have the authority under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6119 or its Charter to enact and implement the Regional Stormwater Management Program under Title V, or to collect its stormwater fee.
As a result of this ruling, the District is suspending Regional Stormwater Management Program activities and the collection of stormwater fees for the program while the District pursues an appeal of the Courtís ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.
We understand many customers have questions about their
bills following last week's news that we can no longer collect
fees for stormwater management. We have already begun fielding questions
in our Customer Service department and online, and these appear
to be the most common so far.
If you have other questions not listed here, leave us a comment and we will provide an answer for you.
1. What is the courtís ruling?
The Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled September 26, 2013 that the Sewer District did not have the authority to pursue its Regional Stormwater Management Program and cannot charge the stormwater service fee. The Sewer District has been enjoined (prevented) from implementing the program. Read the decision.
2. Why did the court decide this?
The court stated that the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6119 that outlines the authority of the Regional Sewer District did not give us the authority to enact this program.
3. What happens next?
The Sewer District will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio. We are confident that we will be successful as we have been in lower court.
4. Should I pay my stormwater bill?
If you have not already sent your payment in, you do not have to pay it at this time.
5. What if I already paid my stormwater bill?
If you have already sent your payment in, all funds will be put into an escrow account and held until the Supreme Court makes its ruling.
6. Should I continue with stormwater improvements on my property?
Absolutely. The problems that stormwater causes will not go away on their own. You efforts will protect our environment and improve water quality.
7. I want to request a refund from the Sewer District. How do I make a claim?
At this time, the Court has not ordered the Sewer District to return any monies already collected. Therefore, all monies received will be put into an escrow account and held until the Supreme Court makes its ruling. We are not providing refunds of stormwater payments.
8. Do I have to pay the charges that currently exist on my bill?
You are only exempted from paying the stormwater fee. All other charges are due as usual.
9. What happens to the money that has already been paid to the District for stormwater?
All money that is collected will be put into an escrow account and held until the Supreme Court has ruled on this matter.
10. Not receiving a refund is unacceptable. How is that legal, especially if the funds were paid to a program that has been discontinued?
The Sewer District received a ruling from the Common Pleas Court that allowed us to proceed with the program. The Court of Appeals ruling orders us to stop. We are complying with each court decision and are taking this to a higher court, the Supreme Court of Ohio. We are confident in a positive ruling.
11. How can you start a program without total consensus from all municipalities within your service area?
The Sewer District and the Court of Common Pleas agreed that we had the authority to proceed with our program. Consent from each municipally was not required. We are expecting a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court of Ohio on this matter.
12. When can I expect my refund?
The Sewer District will appeal the Appellate Court decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio. We anticipate that they will rule in our favor. Until then, all stormwater fees collected will be held in an escrow account.
13. Will the current stormwater projects that have begun continue and if so, how will they be financed?
The court has ordered us to discontinue stormwater program services and activities and the collection of fees. We will comply with the courtís decision.
14. Can I pay my stormwater fee?
The Sewer District has recently received a ruling from the Court of Appeals that stops our program. We will appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio. Until the Supreme Court rules, we will not be collecting stormwater fees.
15. Will the Sewer District appeal?
Yes. We are confident that the Ohio Supreme Court will rule in our favor and the good work of this program will continue.
16. What will happen to my stormwater credit application?
We will hold your application and contact you when the program resumes.
17. How much money have you collected so far?
We anticipated collecting $20 million this year. We have collected approximately $13 million. All money collected for this program will be put into an escrow account pending the Supreme Court of Ohioís ruling.
18. Will you reduce staff?
Currently we are not anticipating a reduction in staffing.
19. When the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Sewer District, will I owe for the time the program was suspended?
No, you will only be charged going forward.
20. Will we have to pay back bills when the program starts back?
This decision will be made after the Supreme Court of Ohio had made its ruling.
21. How does this decision affect Project Clean Lake?
Project Clean Lake will continue as planned.