Stormwater Utility

Stormwater Utility Fee

What is a stormwater utility fee?
Like electricity, water, and sewage, stormwater runoff can be managed as a utility and billed as a fee. The fee is based on the concept that every property in a watershed contributes runoff and should support the operation, maintenance, and rehabilitation of the stormwater drainage system in the watershed. The amount of support is based on the amount of runoff the property contributes to the stormwater drainage system. The amount of runoff a property contributes is directly proportional to the amount of impervious area that is on the property.

For the City of Sterling, a stormwater utility fee would be a new fee the City would implement to specifically fund stormwater expenses. The revenue from the fee would be used to fund activities that would maintain and improve the infrastructure that transports stormwater in the City plus fund activities that would improve the quality of the stormwater discharged to creeks and rivers in the City. Every property owner (businesses and residents) within the City would be billed for the stormwater utility fee. The stormwater utility fee would be based on the amount of impervious area on the property.

What is stormwater?
Stormwater is the runoff that results from rainfall. As this water flows over construction sites, farm fields, lawns, driveways, parking lots, and streets, it picks up sediment, nutrients, bacteria, metals, pesticides, and other pollutants. Unlike sanitary sewers that go to a treatment plant, most stormwater is discharged directly to local water bodies. Increasing amounts of impervious surfaces in urban areas, such as roof tops, driveways, parking lots, and streets, decreases the ability of the water to soak into the ground, thus increasing the amount of stormwater. More stormwater places more demands on the City’s stormwater infrastructure.

What is an impervious surface?
An impervious surface is a hard surface that does not allow rain to absorb into the ground. Impervious surfaces increase stormwater runoff. Examples of impervious surfaces are roofs, parking lots, streets, sidewalks, and driveways.

Why does the City need a stormwater utility fee?
The City does not have funding to complete any additional stormwater capital improvements in the future. There are stormwater capital improvement projects that neighborhoods want the City to complete. Instead of cutting other City services or raising taxes, the City Council has decided to consider implementing a stormwater utility fee to help fund these needed neighborhood stormwater capital improvement projects.

Do other communities utilize a stormwater utility fee?
The City of Sterling is not alone as far as a stormwater utility fee goes. Several Illinois communities have instituted a stormwater utility fee including Aurora, Bloomington, Downers Grove, Highland Park, Moline, Morton, Normal, East Moline, Freeport, Rock Island and Rolling Meadows. The City of Urbana is currently evaluating the feasibility of a stormwater utility fee. Beloit and Monroe, Wisconsin also instituted a stormwater utility fee.

Rock Island rate $3.83/ERU

Moline rate $2/ERU (multiple formulas)

Freeport rate   
   o   Resident $4/mo   
   o   Commercial $20/mo   
   o   Industry $40/mo

East Moline rate $2.33/ERU

Beloit, WI rate $2/ERU

Monroe, WI rate $5/ERU

What is the current status of the City of Sterling’s stormwater utility fee?
In 2017, voters approved a ½ cent sales tax referendum to fund stormwater improvements.  At this time, the fee is no longer under further consideration.

What are the next steps for the stormwater utility fee?
If the city were to ever consider a fee in the future, the City would first develop a credit policy.  Engineers would then calculate the impervious area of all properties in the City.  Finally, the Council would have to vote on a final approval.

How is my impervious surface area measured? 

Each property is measured in ERU’s.  An ERU is an Equivalent Runoff Unit (established by average residential size).

For specific questions, please call City Hall at 815-632-6621.