City Budget Hearing Tonight

The City of Batavia will have their budget hearing tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 7:30pm. It was first unveiled last Thursday at a meeting not recorded by BATV.

Highlights: more tax increases

  • $300,000 in property taxes for sewers (tax impact <$15 for $350k house)
  • gasoline tax increase of $.01/gal (total $.04/gal)
  • water rate 3% (~$1/month)
  • sewer rate 6% (~$2.30/month)

Budget presentation here.
Detailed budget here.

The (home rule) gasoline tax appears to be their go-to tax to fill budget gaps. It has increased annually in recent years and is one of those hidden taxes that you pay but don’t see directly, as you would on your property or utility bills. But if you buy gas in Batavia, you pay it. If you put 15 gallons of gas into your car at a Batavia station, you will pay 60 cents in tax this coming year…each time you fill up. It adds up.

Meanwhile, last year they spent over $3 million in TIF District projects, most of that for property purchases and parking lot construction for the 1 N. Washington project. The TIFs are in debt, with money borrowed from the General Fund.

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Shodeen Project Special Meeting Wednesday

Update: Discussion will continue Tuesday night, 10/17, 7:30pm at the next COW meeting. It appeared several aldermen were swayed by the sales pitch of Shodeen’s Representative, while a few remained unhappy with the loss of commercial space on Wilson and seemed willing to let Shodeen walk away.

There is a special Committee of the Whole meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 11, 7:30pm, for the Batavia City Council to discuss proposals by Shodeen to make changes to the One North Washington project. The agenda document can be found here.

Because construction estimates are coming in $6-8 million above initial estimates, Shodeen is proposing changes. The proposed changes include:

Adding 8 new residential units (new total 194) to the ground level on Wilson and State Streets, thereby eliminating all the proposed new retail/commercial space on Wilson and narrowing the sidewalk on State. New business storefronts would go only on River St where the garage now is, eliminating over 60% of the proposed retail that was supposed to make this a “mixed use” development. AND it would eliminate 15 parking spaces, reducing the total to 335, to supply parking for 194 apartments and all the businesses downtown. AND Shodeen now wants $16 million instead of $14 million in taxpayer-backed General Obligation bonds.

Shodeen’s representative “has informed staff that his company cannot and will not build the approved project”. Continue reading

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2018 School District Budget Public Hearing

Tonight, Tuesday, 8/22, 7pm, at the BPS 101 Administration Building on Wilson St., is the public hearing for the 2018 District Budget. As usual, they are assuming a maximum tax levy increase (around 2% + new construction).

Continue reading

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School Board to Discuss Tentative Budget

Tuesday, July 18, 7pm, the School Board will discuss their tentative budget for the new school year. As usual, the budget assumes maximum tax increases, capped only by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), this year expected to be around 2%.

The current Tentative Budget (prior to discussion) can be found here.

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Plan Commission Approves Shodeen Design

According to a report by Susan Sarkauskas of the Daily Herald (5/4/17), the Batavia Plan Commission came to an agreement with Shodeen on the design of the massive 1 N. Washington apartments project. Shodeen would add more red to the Wilson and River Street facades, tone down some of the yellow, match downspouts to adjacent trim colors, and add some stone trim to the roof at the corner that is supposed to remind people of the historic Baptist church bell tower they will tear down. Shodeen refused to add more masonry or make changes to the gables, which were suggested to reduce the appearance of bulk.

Their approval means the project can continue forward, following a “stamp of approval” from the Historic Preservation Commission. From the article:

“We’re not supposed to talk about traffic, parking, mass, height. It really ties our hands,” commission chairman Tom LaLonde said…..

Commissioners Wednesday repeatedly said they felt they had to vote affirmatively on the design because of the city council’s instruction.

“Obviously, that’s all we are allowed to talk about this evening is color,” Commissioner Gene Schneider said.

Former Aldermanic Candidate Carl Dinwiddie, who was at the entire meeting, commented, “This whole process has been subverted from the beginning, so this decision is no surprise.”

 

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Shodeen 1 N. Washington Appeal

Update: City Council sent it back to the Plan Commission for further cooperative deliberation with Shodeen. Plan Commission was instructed to not consider the height, mass, or general design of the building, as Council has declared those aspects a done deal.

On March 15, the Batavia Plan Commission unanimously rejected the design for the massive Shodeen apartment complex proposal at Washington and Wilson in downtown Batavia. Shodeen is appealing to the City Council this Tuesday, April 11, 7:30pm (Agenda here).

The Plan Commission recommended public comments be brought straight to the City Council regarding the design, rather than take up more of their time at the Plan Commission meeting. It’s not fair that the PC holds public hearings and listens to the public, only to have the City Council overturn their decisions without being required to hear what their constituents have to say. So if you have any final comments about the building, please bring them to the City Council Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday. The design–size, color, shape, materials, etc.–could be finalized after this Tuesday’s COW meeting and then the official vote, presumably at the next City Council meeting the following Monday. The COW is where most discussions take place. City Council meetings are usually rubber stamp time. (Information packet for the appeal is here)

It is obvious Shodeen is making an end-run around the Plan Commission (Shodeen didn’t even bring in samples of materials, as every other developer does, for the Commission to review, and they got approval from the Council of “Option 2” before having gone through the Plan Commission whose job it is to review design and whose vote on design is binding, though appealable). They’re going to a Council that has already indicated they will ram this thing through no matter what. So if it’s already a done deal, why bother to comment? Because if you don’t take the time to comment, you forfeit the right to complain when it’s built.

If you can’t make Tuesday’s COW or the Monday Council meeting where it will be finalized, you can email comments using the “City Council” button at right.

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2017 Voter Guide

Please take the time to research candidates before voting, and then vote. Election Day is April 4, 2017.

A voter guide for the Batavia local elections, contributed by Sylvia Keppel, can be found here.

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BRG Endorsement: Carl Dinwiddie for Batavia Alderman

There is only one contested aldermanic race for Batavia’s City Council. In that race for 1st Ward alderman, Batavians for Responsible Government endorses candidate Carl Dinwiddie.

Carl Dinwiddie’s years of effort as a Batavia watchdog served as inspiration and example for Batavians for Responsible Government. When no one else was watching, Carl and his wife were. But Carl’s comments often fell on deaf ears in the various branches of local government. Perhaps from the other side of the City Council table, his voice will have more effect. We certainly hope so.

The Daily Herald, in their endorsement of Mr. Dinwiddie, says,

The former National Transportation Safety Board investigator knows everyone in town, has religiously attended council and committee meetings and has a firm grasp on the issues. He has smarts to match his dedication. Although the votes haven’t yet gone his way, he never backs down….

…Six of the seven Batavia council seats are running unopposed. Dinwiddie says when that happens, it doesn’t give a true voice to the people. We agree, and it’s not because we have concerns about Salvati. It’s because we believe Dinwiddie has put in the research time and the effort, and he offers the best opportunity to keep high energy and fresh ideas at work on the board. He doesn’t need his resume enhanced, and he’s certainly no go-along-to-get-along resident. A fresh voice who works hard, knows the ins and outs and speaks his mind would be a breath of fresh air. Dinwiddie is endorsed.

We at BRG couldn’t agree more.

For more information on where Carl Dinwiddie stands on the issues, please visit his website at CarlDinwiddie.wordpress.com

 

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Plan Commission Rejects Shodeen Design

A report from an attendee at the Plan Commission meeting:

There were about ten citizens in attendance, including Dave Patzelt, president of Shodeen.

The first agenda item was the Design Review (continued from 25 January), along with the Preliminary/Final Plat of Subdivision for Consolidation of Property for One Washington Place.

Mr Patzelt began by going over Option 2 of the design, as previously presented to City Council, including some details on materials and colors.

City staff confirmed that Design Reviews are now, according to city code, a function of the Plan Commission. As such, their vote is not a recommendation to City Council (as it was with the zoning variances), but a binding vote that can be appealed by the applicant (Shodeen in this case).

The Plan Commission asked if Mr Patzelt brought any samples of building materials, as they wished to examine the materials and color and not just look at pictures and drawings. Mr Patzelt had not brought any. The commissioners noted that in other Design Reviews, the applicants always bring material samples. Discussion continued about roofing, siding, and balcony materials. Continue reading

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Plan Commission Meeting Tonight

Tonight (Wed, 3/15/17), 7pm, Batavia City Council Chambers, the Plan Commission will meet to discuss the design of the 1 N. Washington apartments.

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