Libertyville prepares to impose stormwater fee in 2021

  • Flooding at the intersection of Crane Boulevard and Dawes Road in the Highlands subdivision in Libertyville forced several residents out of their homes during a historic storm in 2017. A villagewide stormwater reduction plan was approved in 2019, and a fee to pay for projects is pending.

      Flooding at the intersection of Crane Boulevard and Dawes Road in the Highlands subdivision in Libertyville forced several residents out of their homes during a historic storm in 2017. A villagewide stormwater reduction plan was approved in 2019, and a fee to pay for projects is pending. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2017

 
 
Posted12/10/2020 5:30 AM

A fee to fund projects aimed at curbing flooding and managing stormwater is planned for Libertyville residents, but officials realize it will take a clear and focused campaign to explain it.

That's because while all property owners will be paying the stormwater utility fee every two months, its benefits won't be immediate for everyone.

 

"You've got to reshape people's expectations," village Trustee Donna Johnson said.

While the fee will be applied uniformly, it won't quickly remedy all stormwater issues, she said.

"That causes the most anxiety among residents and businesses -- conceptualizing how that benefits them," Finance Director Nick Mostardo said. "It's going to be a challenge."

In fact, it will take years to complete all the projects identified in the village's $45.5 million flood reduction plan. But village officials say the fee is needed as a reliable. dedicated funding source to get on track a program intended for the greater good.

Virtual forums for residents and businesses to discuss the pending fee are planned for Jan. 14 and 28.

"It's taken us years to get to this stage," village Trustee Pat Carey said. "But it's going to be a real challenge to explain this to residents so they find it acceptable."

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The fee will be calculated on a combination of two factors: the amount of impervious surface on a given property, and the ratio of impervious surface to permeable area.

Since late summer, village staff members and consultants have been matching data regarding impervious surfaces for every property in the village with the existing utility billing database.

"Stormwater is inherently different (than other utilities) because you're looking at physical characteristics of a property," Mostardo explained during an update Tuesday.

Libertyville has 7,500 utility billing customers. Matching the information with the billing database was completed just before Thanksgiving, and a customer "lookup" tool will be launched on the village website no later than Dec. 18.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A sneak peek showed, for example, that a standard residential lot on Winchester Road with one utility account, one property identification number and one address would pay about $32 per bill, or about $16 per month.

Board members said clarity will be key in informing the public.

"We need to be straightforward and say, 'This is what it's going to be per month and this is what it's going to be per bill,'" Trustee Pete Garrity said.

Trustee Scott Adams said a good public relations effort is needed because all bills will increase but not everyone will see an immediate benefit.

"We all agree this is what's right," Mayor Terry Weppler said. "It's something we have to do."

The village board tentatively is scheduled to establish the fee on Feb. 23, but it won't appear on customer bills until Sept. 1. Officials delayed the effective date to give businesses and residents time to prepare in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

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