OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR QUINN:
Please veto HB1522, “COUNTY STORMWATER MANAGEMENT.” While we agree that storm water management is an appropriate function of government, we believe that the law should apply equally to all counties, and that the taxpayers in each county should have the right to say “Yes” or “No” to increased taxes/fees via a referendum in their county.
HB1522 applies only to DuPage and Peoria counties. In Peoria County, a referendum will be required to approve new taxes/fees. In DuPage, the county board can levy a new tax/fee without public approval.
This legislation will allow the county to decide whether it will collect money for storm water management as a tax or user fee. If the county chooses to collect via property tax, the bill limits the county to 0.20% of EAV. For a $300,000 home with an EAV of $100,000 that would be up to $200 above the current tax cap. If the county chooses to collect via a “fee,” there is no limit as to how much could be collected and it would apply to all properties including tax-exempt properties (e.g., schools, park district, forest preserve, churches…).
The amount of the “fee” would be based on the amount of storm water leaving the property. How can this be measured? Might this become arbitrary and capricious?
The bill provides that a fee waiver shall be given to property owners who take actions or put in place facilities that are approved by the county to reduce or eliminate the cost of managing runoff. How much will it cost the county to implement the fee-waiver program? What will the property owners need to apply for the waiver? Topographical surveys and engineering drawings are expensive. The cost of administering the waiver program could easily exceed the savings due to waivers. If granting waivers is left to the discretion of a person, the program would be ripe for corruption.
Furthermore, this legislation provides for the funding mechanism for storm water management in DuPage County, with no direction, regulation or even a plan as to how these new funds are to be spent. Might this become a “slush fund?”
For Peoria County, at least a referendum will be required. While we prefer a veto, if this legislation is signed, at least add an amendatory veto such that the legislation will apply equally to all Illinois counties, including the referendum provision.