Everything you need to know about the City of Covington.
Please check out the FAQs below. If there is anything we did not cover yet, please let us know!
The City of Covington adopted a Stormwater Utility in October of 2004 to improve their level of stormwater services for activities such as fixing drainage problems, fulfilling regulatory requirements, and reducing pollution carried by stormwater to our waterways.
Water quality in the City of Covington is impacted by the urbanization of the watersheds that drain into the streams. The main pollutants being stream bank scour and trash and debris. Trash and debris are a visual pollutant in our streams. They also are a choking hazard to wildlife and create bacteria that are harmful to humans. An increased stormwater runoff volume in urbanized areas causes scour along stream banks. The increased impervious area results in more rainfall running off into nearby streams instead of being absorbed into the ground. The increased volume also causes the water to travel at a faster velocity and can wash away soil from the stream banks and release sediment into the stream. Just like silt from construction sites, this sediment settles in the stream and harms plants and other aquatic habitat that support fish.
Dried Indian Creek, is included on the 2006 305(b)/303(d) Rivers/Streams Not Fully Supporting Designated Uses list. After analyzing this stream, a biota violation was discovered. Urban runoff and non point source pollution have adversely impacted the quality of this stream. Please click here now to view the section of this document pertaining to Dried Indian Creek.
Like sanitary sewer services, the county operates and maintains a system of pipes and channels that drain stormwater and protect our homes and businesses from flooding. This system is costly to operate and maintain, and is facing increasing regulatory requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Stormwater is water from rain. As rain falls to earth in agricultural and undeveloped areas, it is either absorbed or it slowly runs off and dissipates. Rooftops and paved areas not only prevent the water from being absorbed, but cause it to run off at a much faster rate. As a result, stormwater can accumulate, causing nuisance flooding and possible threats to public health and safety. Furthermore, our current infrastructure system of pipes needs repair and replacement due to age. A proactive replacement program is needed to keep the system functioning correctly.
Fixing drainage problems is only a part of the problem. As the rain falls onto our streets and runs off, it carries pollutants such as gasoline, oil, and heavy metals. Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are washed from lawns and other green spaces. With the passage of time, these pollutants build up in our waterways and underground drainage systems, damaging our streams, rivers and lakes.
The most common pollutants are paints; dirt, grass and leaves; antifreeze and oil; trash and debris; and fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
The items placed in storm drains and ditches end up directly in streams or lakes, which is why it is so important not to place items in or near these receptacles.
A user fee is a mechanism for the City to recover costs for services it must provide to meet public demands and stormwater regulations. The stormwater user fee is structured to recover costs fairly and equitably.
No. Stormwater user fees are being used in many cities in the United States and several in Georgia. Nearby communities that have a stormwater user fee include DeKalb, Clarke, and Henry County and the cities of Athens, Conyers, Decatur Griffin, Lawrenceville, and Loganville.
Unlike water and sewer services, prior to the adoption of the utility, there was no dedicated funding for the stormwater system and the City of Covington used general funds from taxes to maintain the system. However, with the city facing increasing costs it was decided that a more equitable way to fund the stormwater program needed to been explored. A stormwater service fee, based on impervious surfaces, was determined to be the most fair and equitable method of distributing the costs of maintaining and operating stormwater systems. It also provides the revenue needed to implement the stormwater program required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Impervious surfaces are hardened surface areas that either prevent or limit the natural entry of water into the soil. Rooftops, buildings, streets, parking lots, sidewalks, asphalt, concrete, other paving, driveways, decks, patios, and artificial turf are all examples of impervious surfaces. These improvements reduce natural infiltration into the soil, which increases runoff.
No, the area of gravel surfaces do not contribute to that area used to determine the user service fee. If a gravel area has been included in the impervious area identified on a parcel please contact the customer service staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The user fee is determined based on the total square footage of impervious area and is compared to an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). Through a statistical analysis, the Covington ERU value was determined to be 2,600 square feet. Each ERU is assessed a monthly fee of $3.00. This fee is tied to estimated stormwater program cost and is reevaluated every five years.
In order to determine how much impervious surface is on a piece of developed property, the City is using a mapping database called a Geographical Information System (GIS) that includes digitized aerial photographs which are used to measure the total square footage of the impervious surface on a piece of property. Portions of the City are flown each year during the winter months. Between aerial updates, impervious additions are maintained through the building permit database and field inspections.
All owners of developed properties within Covington pay the stormwater user fee. These properties include houses, businesses, industries, schools, public facilities, and churches. The City made a special effort to ensure fairness and equity. This has led to a policy that everybody pays, even government buildings. Everyone contributes to and benefits from the stormwater sewer system, which is separate from the sanitary sewer system.
This is a user fee and not a tax. The user fee, just like electric, drinking water, and sanitary sewer fees, is based upon the cost of services provided. Because this is not a tax, it is collected from all customers who receive service. Churches and schools, like other properties, contribute runoff to the City. Because of the size and amount of parking lots and roofs on these properties, the runoff from these properties may be significant. Exempting properties that potentially generate large amounts of runoff would shift the burden of financing the stormwater program to homes and businesses that do not qualify for property exemptions. For this reason, they are treated like all other customers under the user fee rate structure.
Some of the other major components of this program include:
- Meeting the requirements of the City’s stormwater permit;
- Improving maintenance and repair of the county’s stormwater System;
- Developing stormwater design standards and regulations and ensuring they are met;
- Construction of flood protection and water quality management projects; and,
- Stormwater infrastructure replacement including culverts, dams, curb inlets, head walls and conveyance systems.
You may not have a problem, but the runoff generated from your property is contributing to problems downstream. The approach being taken through this program recognizes that everyone contributes to the runoff and pollution and everyone will share in the results—improved water quality, reduced flooding, unimpaired access to roads, etc.
Since the stormwater bills are based on the amount of impervious surface area, the primary way to reduce your fee would be to reduce the amount of these surfaces. Covington has developed a credit program that allows customers to reduce their stormwater bills in exchange for contributions made that offset the costs of the stormwater program. Details of the credit program are available within the Stormwater Utility Credit and Adjustments Policy Manual. Please click here now for a copy of this manual.
The stormwater utility is responsible for cleaning and repairing the entire storm drainage system in the roads that citizens drive on every day and for protecting and improving the water quality, habitat and biology of our streams. While flows may be diminished from properties with small impervious surfaces compared to the total property, in large storms everyone contributes flow to the streams so everyone with impervious surfaces pays some fee. While runoff from the property may not flow into a street, it does flow into a stream and that stream flows through culverts under roads in the City. The utility is responsible for protecting the health of the streams which is part of the quality of life that all citizens of Covington get to enjoy. The utility also maintains the drainage system in roads that all citizens travel on everyday which also contributes to the economic well being and quality of life.
The storm drainage infrastructure including pipes, catch basins, etc. must be maintained no matter how much flow is running through it at any given moment. These drains must be kept maintained so that the next storm does not result in flooding and damage to roads and other infrastructure. In addition, the fee supports ongoing costs associated with investigation of illegal dumping into storm drains during dry weather and towards the repair of streams and watercourses damaged by previous storms.
An appeals process has been established and instructions for an appeal can be found in the appendix of Stormwater Utility Credit and Adjustments Policy Manual.
The City sends out annual stormwater utility bills in August of each year. Annual Stormwater Utility Bills are mailed out to each land owner. Property ownership is determined from the Newton County Tax Digest. Land owners, as recorded on January 1st, of each billing year are responsible for paying the full year amount. Payments can be paid in full or in installments on or before the due dates. The installment option allows a property owner to pay half of the bill amount in September and the remaining half in December. Reminder statements are typically mailed in November to those choosing the installment option.
Stormwater utility bills are sent to the property owner.
Since this is a user fee and not a tax, everyone has to pay. Owners, of developed property within Covington, pay the stormwater user fee. These properties include houses, businesses, industries, schools, public facilities, and churches.
The impervious area for the community was totaled and divided by the number of property owners so everyone will be billed the same amount. This was determined as the fairest way to divide all of the common areas. Also, it is difficult to determine exactly how much impervious area each unit has since they are attached.
The bills will be sent to the owner of the property. If the parcel is in the HOA’s name then the HOA will receive the bill. It will be up to the HOA to determine how to cover this cost.
Customer Service FAQs
Covington is extremely proud of the level of customer service we provide to our residents and business owners. Here are some common questions we get asked a lot.
Utility bills are based on consumption. If your utility bill seems high, you should examine your usage, rates and priced cost adjustments. You can also consider areas you can conserve such as repairing leaks or adding better insulation.
The City of Covington accepts cash, check and money orders for all bills processed from the City of Covington. The City of Covington also accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express with no charge. Customers paying with a credit card in person will need to present a driver’s license or an identification card.
Utility bills are based on consumption. If your utility bill seems high, you should examine your usage, rates, and priced cost adjustments. You can also consider areas you can conserve such as repairing leaks or adding better insulation. You can also stop by City Hall ask ask for an energy evaluation.
The City of Covington accepts cash check and money orders for all bills processed from the City of Covington. The City of Covington also accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Customer’s paying with a credit card in person will need to present a driver’s license or an identification card.
The City of Covington's hours of operation are as follows:
City Hall Building: Monday-Friday 8:00am- 5:00pm
Drive Thru: Monday- Friday 8:00am- 5:00pm
New Service Office: Monday-Friday 8:00am- 4:45pm
Please call 770-385-2000 to report any problems with these services, 24 ours a day.
Yes. Please call customer service to have an ACH Form mailed to your address or you may stop by the City Hall building to pick one up.
After 1996 the City of Covington no longer collects property taxes.
Please contact the Newton County Tax Assessors Office at 770-784-2030
Wondering just how we keep the lights on in Covington? You came to the right place!
information about establishing accounts and questions about your bill, click here for customer service or call them at 770-385- 2000.
No, for the eight months of October through May, "winter" rates apply which cost less than summer rates. Summer rates are higher above 300 kWH due to the higher cost of generating the extra power needed in the summer.
The PCA is a means by which the price charged for electricity is adjusted to correspond with the costs that the City incurs to acquire and provide electric service. Just the same as the price of gasoline can change, so can the price of fuel used to generate electricity? The price of electricity bought from wholesale power marketers also varies.
Call 770-385-2000 for 24/7 emergency service.
You may call us about security lights that can be leased from the City. We offer several types of fixtures. You may also have a private electrical contractor add floodlights to your home or install other outdoor lights. You may "do-it-yourself" with fixtures available at local hardware and building supply stores. If you are unsure what to do, call us and we'll review the options.
Generally no. Most small Christmas / Halloween lights use 1/2 watt or less per bulb. A string of 100 such lights that are "on" for 6 hours a day cost less than $1.00 to operate for a month. The new LED lights cost less than this to operate.
You may have a circuit breaker tripped or fuse blown. Check your electric panel for these. If that's not the problem, a connection or other wiring problem has likely occurred. It may be a problem with your household wiring or it may be a problem on your service line from the City. Call us and we'll check our line. It that's not the problem, you need to call a private electrical contractor.
There's probably something wrong, such as a refrigerant leak. Call a qualified heating / air-conditioning contractor.
Yes. Some authorities say that you save about 1% for each degree of upward change for each 8 hours. Using this rule of thumb, setting the temperature up by 4 degrees for 24 hours could save 12% of the energy used for cooling in a day. 78 degrees is a frequently recommended summer setting. Just be sure you're still comfortable.
Yes. Actually there are several. Try www.energystar.gov and click on "lighting".
Click on new services. If you need more information or need to request the installation of an underground service, call our field technicians at 770-385-2138.
Call 811, the new national one-call locate number. All such calls in Georgia will go directly to the Utility Protection Center in Duluth which will issue locate "tickets" to the area utility providers. Note that there is a waiting period of several days as specified by state law. Also, please note that lines that do not belong to a utility, such as the water line between the meter and the house or a sprinkler line, are not covered by the law and must be located, if possible, by the owner.
There are several sources depending upon what you need. The City and Newton County both participate in the Newton County Chamber of Commerce, 770-786-7510, which can provide considerable information on available sites, rail access, applicable incentives, state-sponsored "Quick Start" training, etc. The City's electric system is represented by the marketing and economic development divisions of Electric Cities of Georgia, 770-661-2889 as well as our own marketing coordinator at 770-385-2027.
Operations Manager, Michael Knight 770-385-2043
Project Coordinator, Glenn Lovering 770-385-2138
Energy Services, Woodrow Mullins770-385-2134
Marketing, Stacy Walden 770-385-2027
Director, Tim Morris 770-385-2120
Unlike large companies which may be managed by boards of directors and utility commissions that may be located miles away, Covington's electric, gas and water systems are controlled by the Covington City Council, all of whom live in the local community. While many of our utility customers live outside the city limits, the Council represents their interest on utility matters and is far easier to contact. All official meetings are held in Covington and are open to the public.