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Encouraging Property Investments with Stormwater Fee Credit Programs

October 29, 2014

Greentown, USA wants to join some of its large older city peers such as Washington and Philadelphia that are rebranding themselves as Green Environmental Cities. Greentown wants to become the greenest small town in the country and would like to encourage property owners across their town to plant more trees, convert their rain shedding roofs into rain absorbing green space, and dig up their pavement and replace it with rain gardens and other stormwater systems that reduce run-off. They have started a media blitz promoting this green transformation, yet progress has been painfully slow. Older shopping centers like Southside Center continue to produce torrents of rainwater runoff laden with oil and trash that pollutes the area’s waterways. Retrofitting existing space is costly and property owners have other competing needs for their scarce renovation dollars, and education alone only goes so far in promoting transformation. The city council is deadlocked between a contingent that wants to enact regulation that requires older properties to “Greenify” and a contingent that thinks the city should just use public grants to incentivize the transformation. Greentown, like many communities across the country, is stuck. What’s the solution?

Bottom-Up Financing Options for Green Infrastructure: What Will Your Approach Be?

October 8, 2014

Green Infrastructure (GI), a common term to refer to a range of different types of small and mid-scale installations that support water management and other environmental goals, has become a growing component of many local government’s environmental stewardship strategies. Rain gardens, restored urban water-ways, increased tree plantings, permeable pavement and other distributed “nature mimicking” infrastructure installations are making their way into Green Infrastructure plans across the country. Whether local governments used debt financing or pay as you go financing, they will need to find a reliable source of revenue to pay for these installations. Water and wastewater utilities have water fees. Landfill managers have tipping fees. Road managers tend to rely on a mix of local, state and federal taxes augmented with toll roads. What will be the dominant bottom up revenue for Green Infrastructure? Will we see Green Infrastructure utilities? Green Infrastructure taxes? The answer, as is the case with most local environmental finance questions, will be “it likely will depend” on the region and financial culture of the local government.