Additional counties gain stormwater management authority

Those counties affected should study the subject and consider whether they want to exercise the new authority.

By Kevin Rund

To date, there are just a handful of counties authorized to regulate stormwater and impose a fee to cover that cost. That hand is about to get a lot fuller.

Earlier this year, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB 4748, expanding the list from 14 to 25 counties subject to county-level stormwater regulation and taxes. The governor signed the legislation into law Aug. 10. Public Act 100-0758 becomes effective Jan. 1.

Counties added to the list were not mentioned by name. Instead, the new Illinois law extends this authority to all counties that contain “all or a part of an urbanized area.”  That means that the list of 25 could grow as urban populations expand (as counted by the decennial census).

The keywords are, “urbanized area.” The U.S. Census Bureau uses the term “urban area” and includes under that umbrella term two others: “urbanized area” and “urban center.” The latter is generally defined to cover contiguous census tracks that have 2,500 to fewer than 50,000 in population; the former have 50,000 or more.

That means the following counties are affected by the new law: Alexander, Champaign, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Kankakee, Macon, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Sangamon, Tazewell, Vermilion, Winnebago and Woodford.

Members and county Farm Bureau leaders in the newly affected counties will want to study the matter. Eventually, they’ll want to have a conversation with leaders in county government about whether they intend to exercise that authority.

The original law – upon which this expansion is built – contains some safeguards for agriculture. Land used for cropland and pasture would generally not be subject to taxation for stormwater purposes, and county stormwater ordinances could not be used to regulate agricultural practices.

However, infrastructure on farms – to the degree it includes impervious surfaces – generally could be subject to local fees or taxes. The process needed for counties to adopt this authority and the powers provided once they do will be described in the next issue of LINK.  

Kevin Rund serves as Illinois Farm Bureau senior director of local government. This article appeared in the latest edition of LINK, Local Information, News & Know-How. You can view the newsletter here.

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