Stormwater fee on the rise

Westfield residents may see a slight increase of $5.88 in their annual stormwater fee charges beginning in 2014. The Westfield City Council discussed an ordinance that would change the fee to $3.24 per month – an increase of 49 cents from the current rate of $2.75 – at its Nov. 11 meeting.

“The rate has not been adjusted since 2007,” Council President Jim Ake said. “The modest increase will be used for various projects around town.”

Chief of Staff Todd Burtron said the fee is only applicable to residential homes and will be rolled into the city’s general fund.

Currently, the fee is embedded in the water and sewer bill but because Citizen’s Energy Group will be acquiring the water and wastewater utilities beginning next year a change has to be made. Burtron said the fees will be billed quarterly with invoices to be sent on or about Jan. 1, April 1, July 1 and Oct. 1 of every year beginning in 2014.

“It’ll be a flat charge for stormwater, trash and recycling,” he said.

The increase will be used for repairs to the stormwater infrastructure within the city. Burtron said funds will be used to correct transportation problems such as pooling water in roadways and in neighborhoods such as Beechwood and Ridgewood.

“We’re trying to address these issues,” Burtron said. “There are drainage issues throughout the community, especially in older neighborhoods.”

“We want to eliminate all high water sign areas,” Mayor Andy Cook said.

The stormwater fee schedule will be discussed again at the Dec. 9 city council meeting. If approved, Burtron said the city has a message plan to better inform the public about the changes.