Stormwater Utility Fee Information
On March 23, 2021, the Village Board adopted a stormwater utility fee within the Village’s corporate limits in order to fund capital improvements and maintenance of the Village’s stormwater conveyance infrastructure. The fee will be assessed on utility bills issued on or after September 1, 2021.
Currently within the Village, stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs), including storm sewers, culverts, and a host of other stormwater infrastructure components are allocated limited operations & maintenance funding from general revenues, but funding for capital improvements is scarce. Establishing a stormwater utility is a viable strategy for local governments to respond to these challenges. Setting up a stormwater utility allows a community to establish a user fee based on the demands property owners place on the drainage system. It subsequently provides a dedicated revenue stream for stormwater programs.
There are several benefits to dedicated stormwater utility fee:
- Revenue – A dedicated stormwater fee generates a stable source of revenue to fund stormwater BMPs.
- Structure – A distinct Stormwater Utility creates and organized entity to solve the problems regarding stormwater management including aging infrastructure, development, and legal challenges.
- Environment – Increased focus on stormwater issues such as erosion, flooding, preservation of source water and water quality can encourage environmental initiatives.
- Regulation – A dedicated Stormwater Utility can focus on meeting the requirements of NPDES permits and other regulatory mandates.
Most importantly, a stormwater utility provides the means of collecting the revenue required to construct and maintain large stormwater capital improvements needed to protect Village businesses and residents from the effects of flooding. Existing taxing and revenue generating mechanisms are incapable of meeting this essential need.
Master Stormwater Management Plan
In 2017, the Village of Libertyville engaged Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Limited (CBBEL) to identify critical flood reduction projects in the Village. The stormwater utility fee will fund the completion of these projects over the next 15 years at an estimated cost of $45.5 million in 2018 dollars. To review the study areas and specific projects identified as part of this study, click here. The list that includes that tentative years of completion for the MSWMP projects is located in the documents repository, accessible from the link on the left.
Stormwater Utility Feasibility and Rate Study
In 2019, the Village entered into a contract with NewGen Strategies and Solutions, LLC to conduct a feasibility analysis and rate study pertaining to a potential stormwater utility fee. The study was separated into two phases:
Phase I – Development of financial plan, cost requirements, and fee structure options.
Phase II – Public education, development of the billing database, and adoption of the ordinance creating the utility.
Phase I of the study was completed throughout 2019 and 2020 and accepted by the Village Board on July 21, 2020. The Phase I report is accessible for review by visiting the Documents page. The Phase II report was presented on February 23, 2021.
Structure of a Stormwater Utility Fee
The stormwater utility fee will be billed and collected using the existing water and sanitary sewer billing framework already in place. In most instances, existing utility billing customers will see the stormwater sewer fee on their existing bill and a separate bill will be unnecessary. Water and sewer bills for multi-unit developments currently issued to a property association will incorporate the stormwater utility fee for the entire development, which will then need to be allocated to the individual units by the association.
A stormwater utility fee is billable based on the physical characteristics of an individual parcel, using the amount of impervious surface to determine how much water run-off said parcel contributes to the Village’s stormwater infrastructure. The Village considered several strategies for calculating fees based on impervious surface and found the ERU/IDF (Equivalent Residential Unit/Intensity of Development Factor) method the most equitable. Bills are calculated under the ERU/IDF model as follows:
Fee Component 1 (ERU) – The average Village residential parcel has an impervious surface area of 3,800 square feet, which is equal to one (1) ERU. The Village has impervious surface data for every parcel within its corporate boundaries and each parcel has been assigned an ERU value, rounded to the nearest tenth. The number of ERUs assigned to a parcel is multiplied by the stormwater utility fee bi-monthly rate.
Fee Component 2 (IDF) – The Intensity of Development Factor measures the ratio of pervious (permeable) surface to impervious surface on each Village parcel. The IDF component recognizes that a parcel with a higher percentage of permeable surface contributes less runoff since stormwater is able to more readily be absorbed into the earth. The percentage of pervious versus impervious surface is converted into a billable IDF factor of 0.2, 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, or 2.0. The IDF factor for a parcel is then multiplied by the stormwater utility fee bi-monthly rate, as illustrated below:
The overall result is a two-part formula for calculating a stormwater utility fee for a given parcel. This formula can be illustrated as follows:
Parcel Bi-Monthly Fee = (ERU x Current Rate $) + (IDF x Current Rate $)
For utility billing accounts associated with multiple parcel numbers (PINs), this formula is repeated for each PIN to come up with a total fee amount for the account.
The Village Board expects that the initial stormwater utility fee amount will be $13 bi-monthly per ERU and $13 bi-monthly per IDF. An average residential parcel will have 1.0 ERU and 1.0 IDF, making their bi-monthly bill $26.00 (or $13.00 per month):
$26.00 Bi-Monthly = (1.0 ERU x $13.00) + (1.0 IDF x $13.00)
As a reminder, the Village issues utility bills on a bi-monthly basis, with each customer receiving six (6) utility bills per year.
Credits and Appeals
The Village is required by law to afford property owners the ability to contest their stormwater utility fee assessments. The two types of protests are 1) Credits and 2) Appeals. The definition of each is listed below:
Credit – A credit is a permanent reduction in a parcel’s stormwater utility fee based upon the parcel discharging its run-off outside the Village’s stormwater conveyance system. A credit generally requires an applicant to provide surveys and/or undertake engineering studies to justify their request.
Appeal – An appeal is lodged when a customer believes that there are:
1. Billing Errors, such as:
Bill has been sent to wrong address
Impervious Area is correct, but fee has been calculated incorrectly
2. Impervious Area (IA) Errors, such as:
Existence: Bill includes IA that does not exist
Location: Bill includes IA in an incorrect location
Amount: IA on parcel has different area than calculated
3. There are unique features of, or unique circumstances affecting, the property, such that the amount of the stormwater utility fee does not approximately reflect the impact of the property on the Village stormwater system. In order to receive an adjustment , the unique features or circumstances must not be generally applicable or present to other properties in the Village.
The customer is required to substantiate their claims on appeal and must be willing to provide the Village with whatever information may be required in order to verify the customer’s claims.
The Village has prepared forms for both Credits and Appeals and encourages eligible customers to complete these applications in advance of the first stormwater utility fee billing date of September 1, 2021.