BATAVIA – Aldermen are exploring the idea of charging property owners a fee to cover the cost of ongoing stormwater management.
The issue was discussed at Tuesday’s Joint Committee of the Whole meeting. Batavia civil engineer Andrea Podraza told aldermen that in the past few years, the city’s engineering and public works street division have been continually trying to keep up with drainage issues and problems.
“The drainage program project list continues to grow at a rate faster than staff can resolve previously reported issues,” Podraza said. “The reason is staff time is limited, as are city funds to remedy these problems.”
The city has budgeted about $50,000 a year for its drainage program. But she said “that amount barely scratches the surface as new drainage problems continue to pop up.”
Podraza said creating a stormwater utility charge would provide consistent funds annually which would help the city maintain its storm sewer infrastructure along with the maintenance of detention basins, creeks and the Fox River shoreline.
As engineering consultant Greg Chismark told aldermen, the fee would be determined based on how much of the property is covered by impervious surfaces, such as a driveway.
“That is the typical method by which rates are determined,” Chismark said. “There is a direct correlation to the amount of runoff.”
Aurora is the closest community to Batavia that has a stormwater utility fee. It charges single-family owners $3.45 a month.
Sixth Ward Alderman Lisa Clark voiced support for the idea.
“Everybody is paying their fair share,” Clark said. “Everybody is being treated equally.”
But Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke voiced concerns about implementing such a fee, especially in the face of a possible increase in electric rates.
“Many of our residents are hurting,” Schielke said. “I don’t know if I could honestly support this. I have serious reservations about us going much further with this at this time.”
In reply, 4th Ward Alderman Susan Stark said people are going to have to pay one way or another, whether through property taxes or a fee.
“Someone has to pay for these things,” she said. “The infrastructure needs to be fixed. The money has to come from somewhere.”