Champaign City Council drafts plan on stormwater utility fee ordinance

One of the Champaign City Council’s main projects and objectives to improve the city’s stormwater drainage system – despite a lack of funding. On Tuesday, the council and the city will move one step closer to finding a new solution for the city’s depleted stormwater improvement funds.

At Tuesday’s council study session, city staff will unveil their draft plan of a stormwater utility fee ordinance, which would charge businesses and homeowners an additional fee to help improve future drainage projects. However, any revenue would be very beneficial to Champaign, which has run out of these improvement funds for the next couple of decades.

Last August, the council asked city staff to do a number of things on the much-discussed ordinance, including incorporating a $3.2 million expenditure plan to develop the fee, proceeding with an outreach plan for the public and developing a draft of the ordinance.

This idea has a long history in Champaign. According to the stormwater fee report, the city had been considering an implementation of such a fee since 1996 because of the city’s susceptibility to major flooding problems.

The city government has a stormwater fund allocated for such dilemmas; however, the funds were depleted after the city used all of those uncommitted funds for various drainage projects such as the Boneyard Creek Second Street Reach improvement project. These projects exhausted all resources in the stormwater fund for the next 20 years at about $2.7 million annually.

Councilman Will Kyles, district 1, said the council, including himself, are in support of some kind of stormwater utility fee. Under the 2009-11 and 2011-13 city council goals, the nine council members agreed upon “adopting a dedicated funding source for stormwater improvements” as a top priority.

“Flooding is a big problem in Champaign,” Kyles said. “It would allow us to have resources to contain the stormwater.”

Kyles added he hopes city staff are taking into consideration just how much local businesses and homeowners will pay. According to the report, under the revenue plan of the fee, 80 percent of single family and duplex properties in Champaign would pay close to an additional $60 per year. All other properties would pay based on the amount of impervious area, or land covered by artificial structures such as pavement, on the property.

He also said he hopes an incentive plan remains in the cards for this proposal. Under the credit and incentive plan of the ordinance, these properties would be eligible to receive incentives and credit for their monthly fee payments.

“Hopefully, the city looked at some of the little things we (the council) thought should be fixed,” Kyles said.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the city council building, 102 N. Neil St.