Property tax bills are out. Once again, Batavia’s property taxes are higher than both Geneva and St. Charles. To see where we rank in Kane County, and for a link to view your taxes, please see the article on Kane County Connects.
The Batavia School District will vote on a health insurance contract tonight (4/23/19). This represents a large cost to taxpayers, one that keeps going up every year, even as enrollment is declining. Details are here. Sheet 1 has a summary of portions paid by taxpayers and employees. The 2nd sheet has the finer details.
In short, taxpayers pay 80-100% of the premiums for Cadillac health insurance plans that have deductibles as low as $250 in their “Standard” plan, with a $650 Out-of-Pocket maximum. $1000 is considered a “high” deductible. For one Standard Family Plan, the premium cost amounts to $26,160 paid for by taxpayers, $6540 by employee annually.
How does that compare to your insurance? Feel free to write the school board today, or attend the meeting tonight, and ask them to bring their health insurance plans into the real world with plans comparable to the private sector.
Election Day is tomorrow, April 2. For those who haven’t early voted, please get out and vote. Local government elections determine what local services you receive and at what cost— through your property taxes—with the School Board taking over 2/3 of your property taxes:
IMPORTANT: When the ballot says, “Vote for 2 [or 3]”, it really means, “Vote for UP TO 2 [or 3]” or, as the Waubonsee election section states, “Vote for not more than….” Vote only for the candidates you think will represent you as you want to be represented. Voting for additional candidates simply to meet a quota may help them win and your desired candidate(s) lose.
In order to help you make informed decisions, below is some information on candidates:
Update: The Council would not postpone the vote and passed all measures unanimously. Final vote was taken at the City Council meeting.
Tuesday night, 2/26/19, 7pm, the City Council COW will take up the matter of the soil contamination on the 1 N. Washington site (agenda item here). This is the last “off-ramp” for the City of Batavia to cut ties with Shodeen WITH NO PENALTY. In the Redevelopment Agreement (RDA), if cost of soil remediation exceeds $350,000 (which it does), and if the City and Shodeen cannot reach an agreement on course of action, the contract is terminated.
The last time the project came before the City Council, it ended in a 7-7 tie vote, with Mayor Schielke casting the deciding vote in favor of going forward. Then the contamination was revealed. Here’s one last chance to end this project and open up the area to new ideas for development.
Call your Alderman, send emails, come to the meeting Tuesday night and let your voice be heard one more time.
Aldermen who voted last time in favor of the project (* denotes seat is in a contested election): O’Brien, Wolff*, Chanzit, Stark*, Atac*, McFadden, Brown.
Aldermen who voted against: Salvati, Callahan, Meitzler, Malay*, Uher, Cerone, Russotto
Perhaps you might urge the City Council to postpone their vote until after the April 2 election, when the new aldermen are seated, to better reflect the will of the people. Shodeen is, after all, only planning to begin demolition and excavation in April 2020.
If you live in one of the unincorporated pockets of Batavia, the City is coming after you. For some, it could happen quickly; for others, it may take a while longer— but you will be annexed into the City of Batavia. The goal of the City is to get as many properties as it can by the 2020 census to increase their head count for government funding and property taxes.
If you don’t like it, there’s not much you can do; the law apparently gives them the right to force your compliance in certain circumstances. The issue of annexing unincorporated islands came up for discussion at the COW meeting on Jan. 8. (Agenda item is here. Video of the discussion is here on BATV, starting around 2 min.)
If you prefer your independence (and well and septic and lower taxes), you may be able to strike a deal regarding the terms of your annexation (some of it depends on whether or not you have some sort of utility or annexation agreement in place). Whatever you do, if at all possible, don’t agree to switch to the City’s electricity, or you’ll be stuck like the rest of us with crazy high electric bills, for the next 15+ years (see our page on Prairie State). And because of the new wastewater treatment plant that’s being built, don’t be surprised if your initial water and sewer rates increase over the next several years. If you get concessions, be sure you understand the terms and get it in writing.
Your taxes are going up.
The School Board, as usual, increased their property tax levy the maximum amount. Enrollment is declining but taxes keep going up.
The City Council increased taxes as well. The gasoline tax increased by 1 cent, to 5 cents/gallon, water rate increased by 3%, sewer rate increased by 4%, and the property tax levy will increase but the rate will remain the same. Some on the Council would have you believe that the same property tax rate means your property taxes aren’t going up, but if you look at your property assessment, if you are in the large majority of Batavia property owners, your assessed value went up, meaning your property taxes will go up even though the rate is the same.
The votes on the budget and levy were split 8-5, with Salvati, Callahan, Meitzler, Uher, and Russotto voting against. Concerns about the budget, including the pension burden of the new positions being hired, tax increases exceeding residents’ income increases, and the need for better long term planning, led the 5 to vote “No”. Our thanks to these 5 Aldermen.
With 4 of the 8 “Yes” votes in contested seats in the upcoming Consolidated Elections April 2, 2019, the future burden of the City on taxpayers could hinge on those election results. The wards with contested elections are 2, 4, 4 (unexpired term), and 5.
There are 3 propositions on the Nov. 6 ballot for most residents of Batavia. In a nutshell, they are as follows:
(CITY OF BATAVIA) This is a BINDING referendum. The City of Batavia became a Home Rule unit in 2009 when its population hit 25,000. The ballot question asks, “Shall the City of Batavia cease to be a Home Rule unit?”
Home Rule gives the City Council virtually UNLIMITED POWER TO TAX, REGULATE, AND INCUR DEBT. With Home Rule, the state takes away the power of citizens to put property tax increases, bonds, and other issues to referendum, and concentrates power in the City Council. Below is a brief summary of powers without and with Home Rule. Please visit our Home Rule pages for further information.
|Without Home Rule||With Home Rule|
|Property tax increases||Capped at lesser of cost of inflation or 5%||No caps|
|New taxes||Limited by the state||Few limits|
|General Obligation Bonds||Can be put to binding referendum||No referendum needed|
|Regulations/licensing||Limited by the state||Few limits|
Vote YES to END Home Rule
Vote NO to KEEP Home Rule
(BATAVIA LIBRARY) This is a BINDING referendum. The bonded debt that was used to build the library has been repaid, so taxpayers are due to get a reduction in their taxes. The Library is asking voters to add the money they had been paying for the bonds to their property taxes permanently, for library operations and building maintenance.
Vote YES to add the bond payment amount to your taxes permanently
Vote NO if you want to see your taxes decrease by the bond payment amount
(KANE COUNTY) This is an ADVISORY referendum only. There has been talk of the state imposing a 1% property tax (on market value) to pay for unfunded state pensions. The County is asking if they should oppose such a tax.
Vote YES if you DON’T want an additional 1% property tax
Vote NO if you DO want an additional 1% property tax.
A video of the League of Women Voters forum on Home Rule is available from BATV here.
The moderator from the non-partisan Citizens Advocacy Center did a nice job laying out the facts of home rule.
Update: This item was removed from the agenda at the meeting.
On the City Council agenda tonight is a salary increase for City Administrator Laura Newman. It was originally scheduled for discussion at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting, but pulled from the agenda to be put on tonight’s closed session agenda with vote following. (Contract negotiation is legitimate reason for closed session.)
Ms. Newman began employment July 2016, at base salary $165,000 (plus all the benefits of full time City non-union employees). The matter being discussed tonight would raise her base salary to $178,425, RETROACTIVE to Jan. 1, 2018, plus 1 more week of vacation (to 4 weeks).
It will be interesting to see if this goes through in light of the referendum and the dire predictions of the City.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS for Monday, Sep. 17, 7pm, Batavia Library. Jim Tobin, economist and President of Taxpayers United of America will give a presentation on how Home Rule affects taxpayers. Mr. Tobin has spent decades fighting home rule throughout Illinois, calling it, “the most insidious form of government in America”. His presentation will be followed by a Questions and Answers section. Bring any questions you might have.