New stormwater systems in Elgin would have to be paid by residents

Some Elgin residents who live in neighborhoods without stormwater systems had water overflowing onto their yards and streets during last month's heavy rains. But the cost of upgrades would be high, and they would fall onto those property owners, city officials said.

That's because the improvements would benefit only those areas - about 14 to 15 lane-miles of road out of more than 300 throughout the city - not the city as a whole, so they would be funded via special assessments charged to property owners, Department of Neighborhood Services Director Colby Basham told the city council Wednesday night. That's how the city has addressed similar issues in the past, he said.

Installing curbs, gutters and stormwater sewers in those areas, which are scattered throughout town, would cost $30 million to $45 million, or about $6,000 to $8,000 per property owner, he said.

"The city doesn't have the money to fix this and bring this back to today's standards," he said.

The affected areas were incorporated into the city over the decades and have ditch drainage systems that date as far back as the late 1800s, Basham said.

During last month's heavy rains, those homes and basements didn't get flooded, but several residents called the city about overflowing water on their properties and streets, Basham said.

Some residents addressed the city council at its last meeting in July. Councilwoman Tish Powell said she understands they want the city to help. "Obviously, they are concerned about property taxes, and why can't they get the same amenities that the town has," she said.

Basham said he talked to several property owners who were happy with their neighborhood's more rural character and have no desire to take on the special assessment, which can be paid in full or via installments tacked onto property tax bills.

"The people that I heard from, they like the rural cross section," he said. "They would like the draining improved - which I am not sure you can do both - but they like the feel."

The last time the city did street improvements funded by special assessments was a few years ago on parts of Erie Street, Willard Avenue and others, Basham said.

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