WESTMONT – Due to flooding that has plagued the area for decades, the Village of Westmont is now inching closer to instituting a stormwater utility fee to alleviate damage caused by torrential downpours.
A stormwater utility would directly charge property owners to pay for stormwater sewer projects. Previously, those projects — such as replacing a stormwater detention basin — were funded by the village through taxes.
Although floods are not a new phenomenon in Westmont and the surrounding communities, events in recent years have caused local leaders to consider a change.
"Flooding and stormwater isn't a new concern for us," Westmont Public Works Director Steve May said. "It has been difficult and it is something that competes for funding with all other municipal services. We have weighed options, but the problem is only getting bigger.
"This was an issue that dated back to the 1980's, and in April 2013 we had multiple storms that plagued our town and inspired a village wide storm water management study. From that study, we did a more focused study, leading us to address issues."
With the help of May, Village of Westmont Communications Director Larry McIntyre set up a series of open forum meetings with village officials, residents and AMEC consultants, discussing potential flood control projects in the village.
After four Westmont Citizens Stormwater Stakeholders Group meetings were held this past spring – in which conversations eventually helped develop a stormwater utility proposal – the village board heard a final presentation Monday from AMEC Vice President Douglas Noel.
"Our goal was to develop a stormwater utility proposal that is equitable, stable, adequate and flexible," Noel said. "We have worked with residents so that this plan is as acceptable and possible, and we have come up with this concept that would be capable of funding Westmont's stormwater management program."
Under the proposed stormwater program, all current operations and maintenance services would increase by 30 percent. This includes storm sewers, inlest and catch basins, street sweeping, detention basins, ditches, outsources park services and roadway resurfacing. Additionally, two full time staff members would be hired.
The proposed projects would cost about $1.6 million annually, and would be funded with a monthly stormwater utility fee levied on all property owners – including property owning nonprofits, which are exempt from property taxes.
The monthly stormwater fee is based on the amount of impervious/developed area on each property, including roofs, decks, parking lots and driveways.
A proposed three-tier system would be based on the size of the property parcel. Owners of houses smaller than 1,900 square feet would pay $6.72 per month, property that ranges from 1,900 to 4,000 square feet would cost $9.60 per month, and owners of a property larger than 4,000 square feet would pay $12.48 per month.
About 70 percent on homes in Westmont fall in the second tier, according to Noel, and would pay an annual fee of $115.20.
However, homeowners could reduce their fee by completing projects that reduce water runoff, such as rain barrel installation rain barrels, rain gardens and permeable pavement.
The Village of Westmont would also have the option of using the annual revenue to issue bonds, Noel said.
The village board has decided that, if the proposal is accepted, a storm water utility fee question would appear as a referendum question on the upcoming November ballot.
For more information, visit the Village of Westmont website at www.westmont.illinois.gov/ or call 630-981-6200.