Class Action Lawsuit – Adams County
Research Findings for Adams County Class Action Lawsuit
- The class-action lawsuit stems from a new stormwater assessment that some Adams County residents are interpreting this assessment as an unauthorized tax (no voter approval) and some see it as a way to increase revenues for the county. Because the bills for the assessments were 34% erroneous, the lawsuit has only gained momentum.
- County commissioners say the assessments are necessary because other funding for stormwater mitigation is insufficient. Also, new federal mandates in regards to the EPA’s Clean Water Act are in place and the money is needed to ensure compliance with the new regulations. The county argues that voter approval is not required for this because it MUST come into EPA compliance right away. Noncompliance would result in costly fines that the county residents would bear and potentially see cuts to other county services in order to pay the fines.
- The fee went into effect on January 1st and payments are due April 30th.
- 2,298 parcels of 6,600 receiving this bill required correction for accurate billing (34%). The county is spending $100,000 dollars to correct the billing.
- Residents are assessed based on how much of their property doesn’t allow stormwater to soak into soil (square footage of impervious surfaces on the property, i.e. roofs and pavement). The county estimated that a single-family home would be assessed an average of $62.64 per year. Some residents, however, reported bills as high as $900. Faulty use of photography helped determine fee implementation.
- Some residents say the fee is unjustifiable and therefore unenforceable
- Adams County is mostly rural and unincorporated and is without stormwater problems, according to residents. (Note: It is the 5th most populous of the 64 counties in Colorado)
- The county argues that revenue from the fee would cover only ‘bare-minimum’ projects that are needed for stormwater mitigation. One such project is the Utah-Junction-Clay Street outfall project near the area of West 60th Avenue under Interstate 76. The project needs $2.75 million from stormwater funds for completion. The project involves sewer and drainage improvements as well as a trail system, and is being completed in phases.
– Alex Bergeron