What Exactly Is That Charge?

Volumetric Rates

The water & wastewater rates are set by the Burlington City Council each June as part of the Mayor's Budget approval process. 

Franchise Fee

The City of Burlington charges Water Resources (and other utilities) a franchise fee based on 3.5% of our gross sales and services revenues.  The fee is in exchange for our use of the City streets and rights-of-way for the utility pipe network and related structures.  This is allowed by City Charter and you can review both the ordinance (begin with 27-119) and the MOU executed in 1990 that increased the fee.

Prior to 7/1/17 this fee was incorporated into our rate structure and not shown separately on the bills.  However, we strive to be as transparent as possible with our rate development process, so it has been removed from the rates and is now a standalone charge.  The 3.5% is calculated on your current charges and is inclusive any service fees charged (e.g., returned payments, final reading requests).  Our Stormwater utility is exempt from the franchise fee.   

Interest Charge

Per Burlington City Ordinance section 31-20 (a), if a bill remains unpaid on the due date then it is subject to an interest charge of twelve (12) percent per annum or 1% per month.  As a result of rising postage costs, we only mail interest statements for balances of $500 or more. 

Stormwater User Fee

The City of Burlington’s Stormwater Program was formed in 2009, as part of our ongoing effort to meet state and federal water quality standards for Lake Champlain and other local rivers and streams. Part of this program included the addition of a stormwater ‘user fee,’ assessed as part of your monthly water bill.

Addressing these requirements is key to improving the water quality of Lake Champlain, and helps keep Burlington a great place to live and visit.  This fee supports the work the Stormwater Program is doing to address stormwater pollution in our lakes, rivers, and streams.

The Stormwater Program employs one full time staff member, and funds a portion of four other technical staff positions that provide support to the Program. The Stormwater Program Manager oversees a variety of activities for Burlington, including:

  • Implementation of the City’s Chapter 26 Ordinance, which requires a review of any project resulting in more than 400 square feet of earth work, or expanding impervious surfaces on site so that the total impervious is greater than or equal to 2,500 square feet;
  • Oversight and implementation of the City’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) Permit;
  • Coordination with other City Departments on Capital Improvement projects – focusing specifically on areas of the City’s Combined Sewer network where there is an opportunity to detain Stormwater during rain events to alleviate pressure on the City’s wastewater infrastructure;
  • Planning and implementation of projects that provide detention opportunities as described above, or treatment of Stormwater in separated sewer areas to address water quality concerns in Lake Champlain and other surface waters in the City;
  • Coordination of the City’s Adopt-A-Drain Program, which is targeted at engaging citizens to assist in maintaining clear drains to minimize flooding in wet weather.

What do you consider an impervious surface?

Impervious surfaces are all surfaces where precipitation (rain, snowmelt, etc) runs off rather than infiltrating into the ground.  Rooftops, driveways, and walkways all qualify as impervious surface.  Gravel driveways and walkways are also considered impervious, due to the fact that these surfaces are heavily compacted and therefore do not infiltrate water.

How is impervious surface measured for directly assessed properties?

Impervious is currently calculated by the City for each directly assessed property using one or a combination of the following sources:

  • 2013 aerial photography provided by the State of Vermont Center for Geographic Information (VCGI)
  • As-Built record drawings provided by an engineer or developer

If you believe there is an error on the delineation shown for the impervious surfaces on your parcel, you may request a review from the Stormwater Program. 

That form can be found here:  Review Request Form

Why doesn't the delineation match up with the aerial photo better?

Original delineations were created from 2004 aerial photography, updated and/or validated when 2013 aerial photography became available. Aerial photographs always have slight distortions by nature in which they are captured and processed. Furthermore, when comparing two different aerial photographs of the same area, objects will likely not line up exactly the same (ex. Building rooftops). If you believe there is an error in your delineation, you may request a review.

Why doesn't my property show an impervious surface delineation?

Single family, Duplex, and Triplex properties are charged a flat fee.  If your property shows diagonal black lines instead of a purple overlay, it is because your property is being charged the flat fee.  If you believe this is an error, please contact the Stormwater Program at stormwater@burlingtonvt.gov.

I have implemented practices on my property to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff - how do I apply for credit?

Credits are currently available for directly assessed properties only.  The City of Burlington’s Stormwater Credit Manual outlines the credits available for directly assessed properties, and the process for applying for a credit.  The Stormwater Program is currently in the process of updating Burlington’s Stormwater Credit Manual to expand credits for ‘flat fee’ (Single Family, Duplex & Triplex) customers, and to make the application process a little easier.