Westwood plans storm water fee for all properties — including hospital and churches

The University of Kansas Hospital complex along Shawnee Mission Parkway, although tax exempt as a non-profit, will be subject to the storm water utility fee.

Every property in Westwood will be subject to a storm water utility fee if a plan presented to the city council can work its way through to approval in time. The fee will be based on the square footage of impervious surface at each property. The cost to private residences will average about $5 per month, the city estimates, based on the plan to charge $1 for every 500 square feet of surface.

The cost of maintaining the storm water system now comes out of general tax revenues. The new fee would spread the payment across all properties – even those that are tax exempt. The University of Kansas Hospital’s eight acre facility on Shawnee Mission Parkway will be subject to the fee, as will churches and city-owned property. The fee also is applied based on the amount of surface area that water can’t penetrate, which means the water is sent into the storm system. Many cities have used the fee system citing that it more fairly assesses the cost based on the contribution to storm runoff.

The former Apple market, which is being remodeled by Walmart, covers approximately three and one-half acres, representing one of the larger surfaces after The University of Kansas Hospital’s property. City Clerk Fred Sherman said the fee will be collected on property tax bills, just like trash services. The tax bill collection lets the city avoid the expense of invoicing and collecting from each property. To make that happen by the December tax bill, the city needs to meet a tight schedule of approving the ordinances to set up the utility.

The utility plan is bigger than just charging the tax-exempt properties, Mayor John Ye said, it is a way to get steady revenue after the drop in home values and tougher economy of the last few years. The concept was discussed during the budget cycle last year and had council acceptance, although it was too late to implement, Sherman said.

The city has approximately 730 residential homes and 30 to 40 commercial properties. Each property is now being reviewed to determine its impervious surface area.