Stormwater Utility

Storm Drain

Adopted Ordinance No. 936 establishes a new Article 5, of Chapter 15 of the Westwood Municipal Code for a storm water utility, including the creation, administration, operating budget, revenue, appeal process, and fee collection process.

Stormwater Utility Fee Increase Planned for 2024
SUF 2024 Updates

In 2024, residents and businesses will see an increase in their Stormwater Utility Fee. This fee is collected as an assessment on the property tax bills, in the same manner as the residential solid waste fees are collected. 

The Stormwater Utility Fee was first enacted and collected in 2014. Since its enactment, the fee increased once, in 2020, from $1 per 500 sq. ft. of impervious surface on a property to $1.25. During the 2024 budget adoption process, the Governing Body approved increasing this fee again, to support the City’s curbside leaf pickup program and increasingly expensive maintenance costs for the City’s curbs and stormwater system needs.  

The new fee of $2.50 per 500 sq. ft. of impervious surface was approved by the Governing Body. This new rate is still – on average – less than that assessed by multiple surrounding cities. For example, neighboring cities are averaging a fee of $240 - $340 per residence, per year, and the City of Westwood is projected to average less than $200 per year, per residence.   

The funds are scheduled to be allocated in two main areas.  

  1. Replacement of the leaf vacuum truck and improvements to the leaf collection program.  

In order to continue the annual leaf pick-up program, the City’s aging leaf vacuum must be replaced. This equipment replacement has been budgeted in the Equipment Replacement Fund for the fiscal year 2024 budget. However, due to higher-than-expected inflation, the planned budget reserves do not meet the cost of the new truck. In addition, the City did apply for a Federal Grant to help offset the cost of this purchase, but, unfortunately, it was unsuccessful based on the demographic/economic requirements of the grant.  

The new leaf vacuum truck is expected to start running at the start of the 2025 pick-up season. This new truck will bring many advantages including:  

  • It will only take one operator to perform leaf pickup allowing staff to work in other needed areas of the City. The current truck needs two operators.  

  • It will have greater efficiency and capacity to make more collections through the City each fall.  

  • The new technology requires less scheduled maintenance, saving dollars on servicing needs.  

  • The new equipment will be able to be driven to an organic recycling center nearby for dumping of the leaves eliminating the need for an additional employee to reload the dumped leaves at our facility and into a roll-off container, thereby saving that employee to drive the street sweeper to clean-up leaves from the street while the new equipment is dedicated to removing raked leaves in the yards. 


  1. Infrastructure improvements (including curb and stormwater system needs).  

The City retained an engineering firm to conduct a condition assessment of its stormwater infrastructure in 2019 and it revealed multiple segments of stormwater pipe needing replacement. The corresponding map available via the link provided below was developed to show the City’s planned prioritization of these improvements through 2033. The plan is subject to shift based on funding levels and annual condition assessments, which include evaluating storm pipes and determining candidates for non-invasive pipe lining, which extends the life of pipes without needing to remove and replace pipes and disrupt landscaping.  

Additionally, the City retained a specialized firm to conduct a condition assessment of its street pavement in 2022 and in 2021, the Governing Body convened a resident-led Complete Streets Task Force which developed a map of sidewalk gaps. In 2023, these maps have been married to provide an overall prioritization for street and sidewalk maintenance (or construction in the case of sidewalks identified by the Task Force as missing). The corresponding map available via the link provided below was developed to show the City’s planned prioritization of these improvements through 2033.   

The plan is subject to shift based on funding levels and annual condition assessments, which include curb. This pavement management plan – as well as the City’s related sidewalk plan, is funded through the City’s Capital Improvement Fund, which is supplemented by the Stormwater Utility Fund and, as such, the Stormwater Utility Fee that is that fund’s sole funding source. Supplementing the Capital Improvement Fund with Stormwater Utility Fee revenues allows the City to accelerate projects by creating additional offsetting revenue to cover the costs of the curbs and related stormwater costs associated with each street project. 

Click here to view the City's Pavement Management Plan, Sidewalk Plan, Stormwater Plan, and Streetlighting Plan. The corresponding years displayed are subject to annual review and funding availability as evaluated during each summer's budget planning process for the following year.


Why now?  

With the ever-increasing cost of resources like concrete, other materials, and labor, it is imperative the City increase the revenues to the Stormwater Utility Fund to ensure Westwood’s infrastructure stays solid. In addition, this fee helps fund the Equipment Reserve Fund as well as the Capital Improvement Fund through transfers for approved purposes.  

Will you increase the fee next year?  

There are no current plans to increase the Storm Water Utility fee in the near future. However, if inflation continues at its current level, the Governing Body will continue to evaluate City needs.  

Are there any assistance programs for this increased fee?  

Although, there are no assistance programs directly related to helping to cover the cost of this particular fee, Johnsson County has many Property Tax Relief Programs that residents may qualify for. These can, ultimately, help to offset other assessments on property tax bills.  

How does a well-maintained storm drainage system benefit me?  

A properly maintained storm drainage system keeps surface (rain) water from flooding buildings and streets up to a to a minimum of a 10-year rain event (i.e. a rain event so impactful that it only occurs once every ten years), avoiding property damage and unsafe driving conditions. However, rain events of this magnitude are happening at a higher frequency and severity in recent years than when these standards were created and the infrastructure designed. 

Why do we have to continuously perform street and sidewalk repairs?  

Staying on top of these repairs and maintenance needs will save residents money in the long term. It is often more cost-effective and efficient to make minor repairs instead of major repairs.