Batavia considering separate stormwater utility

 
 
Updated 11/28/2014 10:22 AM

The idea of creating a stormwater utility to pay for work on storm sewers and drainage is gaining momentum in Batavia as the city council prepares to hire a consultant to do a feasibility study.

The city council will vote Monday on a $36,217 contract with Municipal Financial Services Group of Annapolis, Maryland.

 

City engineers have broached the idea of a stormwater utility to the council several times since May 2012. Money for the feasibility study was included in the 2014 budget.

The contract will pay for collecting data, meeting with city workers to determine current level of service and needs, evaluating the system and estimating costs for maintaining the current system and possible improvements.

The firm also will examine ways to pay for stormwater management, using a sample set of properties. And it will write a draft ordinance for setting up a stormwater utility.

If the council approves the contract Monday, the work will start in December and be completed by early April.

Aldermen Tuesday recommended proceeding, but several made it clear it was for gathering information and that they hadn't decided whether establishing a stormwater utility and charging fees for it was good.

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Alderman Dave Brown said he was concerned about the engineering department taking on another task at a time when it has several big projects to handle and is missing an engineer. "I don't know that this is a good time to be studying this," he said.

Aldermen Dan Chanzit and Michael O'Brien, whose wards have experienced flooding problems, disagreed. "To pull this off our list of priorities doesn't seem fair," Chanzit said, adding he didn't want the proposal to lose momentum.

Chanzit noted that some areas of the city still have combination stormwater and sanitary sewage pipes, which means stormwater is going through the sanitary sewage treatment plant. If there was a stormwater utility fund, money from it could be used to pay to separate those pipes, he said.

Currently, storm sewer system work is paid out of the general fund, which is supported by property taxes, sales taxes and other non-utility income. Water utility customers pay for sanitary sewage treatment.

MFSG reports that about 1,800 towns nationwide and about 20 in Illinois have stormwater utilities. DuPage County has considered a stormwater fee, and Downers Grove implemented one in 2012. Monthly fees for single-family homes in Downers Grove range from $2.52 a month for an unimproved vacant lot to $12.60 for lots with more than 4,000 feet of impervious surface.

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