A stormwater assessment imposed by the City of Lewiston’s Stormwater Management Utility is a fee, and not an unauthorized tax, the Maine Supreme Court has held. The utility used the assessment to cover the costs of regulating storm water runoff, and part of those regulatory costs included maintaining stormwater infrastructure. The assessment constituted a fee, rather than a tax, because all of the utility’s expenses were for maintaining or administering the utility, and the benefit of managing the taxpayer’s storm water and improving water quality was enough of an individualized benefit to the taxpayer to warrant upholding the assessment as a fee. Moreover, the available credit, the city stormwater system impact credit, which provides for up to a 100% fee reduction, creates a voluntary, rather than an involuntary, fee. Finally, the city’s surface-based fee system makes a fair approximation of the benefit the taxpayer receives by having his storm water managed and water quality protected.
City of Lewiston v. Gladu, Maine Supreme Judicial Court, No. 2012 ME 42, March 27, 2012, ¶200-673