Garbage Contract

Tomorrow night, Tuesday 4/11, 7pm, the Batavia City Council Committee of the Whole will be discussing a new 5-yr waste-hauling contract. The contracts they will be discussing do not include stickers or “pay-per-tip” service, where you only pay for the garbage you put out. They are talking about flat monthly fees ranging from $20.25-$20.44/month to start, with annual increases. They would have discount pricing for seniors, $14.18-$16.35/month to start, with annual increases.

Details here:

You can attend in person or remotely (instructions here:

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School Referendum Voted Down AGAIN!

The $140 million school district referendum was voted down for the 2nd time, with a wider margin than the first: 695 votes on election night, 3966 NOs to 3271 YESes. As of Wednesday morning, 4/5/23, the County Clerk’s office said there were just 813 vote-by-mail ballots outstanding. By Thursday early afternoon, the count was 4028 NOs to 3329 YESes, a 699 point margin of victory. The NOs have won.

It looks like the teachers union’s candidates (Gonzalez-Thomas, Sligar, and Arulandu) have won the School Board race. If you had any doubt the union dominates the School Board contests, current School Board President Cathy Dremel came in last, after having been one of the top vote-getters in her previous elections every 4 years since 2011. This year she was not among the 3 who were union-endorsed.

Bell and Larson won Park Board seats.

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April 4 Ballot

Early voting for the April 4 election has already begun at the Kane County Clerk’s office in Geneva and begins Monday, March 20 at Batavia City Hall. For voting hours at both locations, click here

A  referendum on the April 4 ballot asks voters to approve the issuance of $140,000,000 in bonds for capital projects which may include building a new H.C. Storm School and a new Louise White School while demolishing the existing buildings. The referendum, if approved,  would also authorize  repair and alteration of other facilities. Approval of the new debt would allow for the bonds + interest to be paid off with higher property taxes.

Besides the Batavia School District referendum, there are races for local office and 2 referenda for the City of Batavia. To find your sample ballot, use the Voter Search at the Kane County Clerk’s website.

Batavia has a few contested races, for Park Board (vote for 2 out of 3 candidates), School Board (vote for 3 out of 7 candidates), and Waubonsee Community College Board (vote for 3 out of 5 candidates).

The League of Women Voters hosted several forums (if you are pressed for time, listening at 1.5x speed can be useful):

For Park Board candidates, view here

For School Board candidates, view here

For the $140 million referendum, view here

Batavians for Responsible Government delivered questionnaires to all the School Board candidates, with questions gathered from our mailing list and The returned questionnaires can be found here (please check back periodically for updates as questionnaires are received). If you are curious where the School Board candidates stand on the school referendum, an indication, perhaps, is the first 4 candidates on the ballot (Gonzalez-Thomas, Sligar, Arulandu, and Dremel) all had “Vote Yes” signs in front of their houses when the questionnaires were delivered; the last 3 (Ekstrom, Rayman, and Fender) did not have any signs in their yards.

Finally, there are 2 referenda for the City of Batavia on the ballot. These are to eliminate the ELECTED Clerk and Treasurer offices, converting the Clerk into an appointed position, and the Treasurer’s duties assigned to the City’s Finance Director. Short, clear explanations for the proposed changes can be found at the City’s website page here. Please take the time to read it.

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Insider Corporation Funding “Yes” Campaign AGAIN

Lamp Inc, the construction company (Construction Manager) linked to the Batavia School District referendum, donated ANOTHER $5000 to the “Vote Yes” campaign. Pay-to-Play at its finest, Chicago-style:

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What will the $140 Million Referendum Cost Me?

Note: The chart has been updated using the calculations provided by the School District on their “Tax Calculator” page (which were slightly higher than our previous estimates).

Below is a chart of what the $140 million school referendum could cost homeowners in higher taxes. You may ask, “But didn’t the school district say it wouldn’t increase the bond and interest levy, so it wouldn’t increase my taxes?” The district is using current taxes as their frame of reference. We are using your guaranteed lower taxes if there were no referendum as our base of reference—a tax break you would see once current debt is paid off, starting with a partial reduction in 2024, down to full reduction in 2025. There is no such thing as free debt. Debt always has a cost to it. Here is an estimate of what $140 million in new debt might cost you per year and over 20 years, based on your home’s current value:

The 20-year estimate assumes bond rate and home value remain relatively the same (a highly questionable assumption) and that the School Board doesn’t break its promise, like it had in the past, to not raise the bond levy. The 20-yr estimate is only a best guess.

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April 4, Vote NO

Why do we recommend a NO vote (again) April 4?

There is way too much undefined in the School Board’s plan for $140 million in bonds ($180 million including their Capital Projects budget of $2 million/yr over the next 20 years). The only thing defined is $70 million total to tear down and rebuild 2 schools. That leaves $110 million of “other” that can include any building or grounds improvements, including a 2nd artificial turf field (see the bottom of p. 67 here, where the estimate is $5.6 million for the turf in the “Like to Do” category). We’re voting for a $140 million blank check. It’s obviously very easy for the Board to put a bond issue on the ballot, so make them come to voters with smaller, well-defined questions in the future, to give taxpayers more control over where our tax dollars go.

The School Board raises property taxes every year. Their annual operational tax increases are capped by PTELL (Property Tax Extension Limitation Law) at the lesser of 5% or the cost of inflation (CPI). The property tax levy the Board passed in December will see an increase of around 5.6% (5% capped + new construction), or approximately $5 MILLION. Following a NO vote, the Board could allocate some of these big tax increases to Capital Projects. They somehow found over $2 million to replace the football stadium’s bleachers in the summer of 2022, so if the referendum improvements are so direly needed, surely they can find more money in their regular budgets and/or dedicate some of their increased levies to them. If the economy of 2022 repeats in 2023, add another 5% tax levy increase ($5 million+) and between that and the 2022 levy, they would already have more from taxpayers in their standard budget than the $9.1 million additional they’re seeking from taxpayers through the referendum. With the student enrollment declining every year besides, funds should be further freed up.

THERE IS NO CAP ON BOND AND INTEREST TAX LEVY INCREASES. The Board promised the $75 million referendum in 2007 would not increase taxes, but then went back on their word 4 short years later in 2011. There is no guarantee that bonds as large as $140 million won’t increase taxes. In fact, they will already increase your taxes over what they would be when the current bonds expire. But then they could increase your taxes MORE. Bonds must be paid, with no limit to increases as to tax rate or amount. The School Board needs to rebuild trust before expecting the voters to gamble $140 million + interest on them.

For more detailed arguments, please see our post from the November election:

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Déjà Vu

On Jan. 10, the Board of Education voted to place the same issue on the April 4 ballot that voters rejected last November.

The Board is seeking to issue $140 million in debt to fund the replacement of H.C. Storm and Louise White schools, along with maintenance and improvement projects at the other 6 school buildings.

One of the main reasons board members cited for placing the exact same issue before voters was that the April election is the last opportunity to issue new bonds that coincide with the retirement of current debt. In other words, the annual debt payment (approximately 10 percent of school taxes) would continue for the next 20 years or so if the referendum is approved. If voters reject it, they will be giving themselves a 10 percent cut in their school property taxes.

Continue reading
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Special Referendum Meeting

The Batavia School Board is holding a special meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10, 6pm (note the early start time) to consider adopting the same issue that voters defeated in last November’s election by a vote of 7060 NO to 7036 YES.

Turnout at municipal elections is generally much less than at November general elections and observers feel the board will take advantage of this opportunity for referendum advocates to turn out supportive voters in lower numbers than would otherwise be required in order to win approval of the referendum.

The referendum would ask voters to approve building a new H.C. Storm School and a new Louise White School while demolishing the existing buildings. The referendum, if approved,  would also authorize  repair and alteration of other facilities.

Approval would allow the board to  borrow  an estimated cost $140,000,000 to be paid off with higher property taxes.

School district residents already face a 4.6 percent operating school property tax this year that was imposed  by the board at its Dec. 20 meeting.

Members of the public are allowed to speak at board meetings. If they plan to do so they are asked to contact in advance of the meeting for planning purposes (not necessary, but helpful). You will find a form to fill out in the building foyer that needs to be handed to the secretary before the start of the meeting. Public comments occur at the start of the meeting as people who wish to speak are recognized by the board president.

Speakers are asked to identify themselves and are normally limited to three minutes. If an individual representing a group notifies the board president and superintendent ahead of the meeting they may be
granted five minutes.

The board allows itself to shorten the time for each person to address the board during public comment  to conserve time and give the maximum number of individuals an opportunity to speak.  If it is determined to limit the number of minutes for public comments, there will be a minimum of 30 minutes of comments allowed and then public comments will reopen after the board addresses the other agenda items.

Members of the public also may submit written comments by filling out a form and giving it to the board’s recording secretary.

If you cannot attend the meeting, you can email the Board, using the button under Quick Contacts at right.

A large, organized contingent of “Yes” supporters spoke at the last meeting, with only 1 speaker in opposition during Public Comments. The Board could benefit from more balance in the feedback they receive.

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Referendum Repeat in April? Taxed to the Max Again

The Batavia School Board plans to hold a special meeting early next year to decide whether to place a bond referendum before voters in the April school board and municipal election.

Voters narrowly rejected a $140 million issue in the Nov. 9 general election that would have involved demolishing and replacing two of Batavia’s four elementary schools. The board faces a Jan. 17 deadline if it wants to place an issue on the April ballot.

Half a dozen citizens addressed the board at its Dec. 20 meeting and all but one urged placing the same issue on the April ballot. One speaker, Sylvia Keppel, said an April election does not give a fair assessment of what voters think since turnout is so much lower than in November  elections.

“I would think you would want an overwhelming mandate for projects like this,” Keppel said. “If you’re going to try again wait until the November 2024 presidential election” when a more representative sampling of voter sentiment can be obtained, she said.

Later in the meeting, School Superintendent Lisa Hichens acknowledged that if the board places the exact same issue on the April ballot “people are not going to like that” since they so recently provided their answer in an election that saw a 65 percent turnout.

The board indicated it could decide to place the same issue before voters, scale it back or delay going to voters again.

The board conducted an analysis of voter feedback that included a survey of district residents, focus groups and phone interviews.

“The most prevalent of all primary themes, the prominent perception, was that the plan lacked specificity and clarity,” the feedback study stated. It also said:

“It appears that the need for the referendum was not clearly conveyed. Many felt that voters were unaware of the referendum, uninformed of the consequences of its success or failure, or that convincing information was too difficult to find.

“Several were concerned about misinformation from both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ campaigns.

“The second most frequent theme … focused on the tax burden. Many felt
that the case for the referendum was not compelling to justify the
taxes already collected. Many comments cited the truthfulness of ‘no
tax increase’ campaign literature, that taxes would otherwise
decrease, and impugned the trustworthiness of leadership.

“It appears that some voters do not understand the underlying
mechanics of the tax levy. Yet others indicated that the referendum
question, itself, indicates that finances have been mismanaged,” the
feedback study stated.

On another matter, the board voted unanimously to increase property
taxes by an average of 4.6 percent starting next year. The new  tax levy would increase the taxes on a median-valued  home ($350,000) by
$308 annually.

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Run for Office!

If you want to effect change, you have to elect good people. Consider running! All paperwork must be filed Dec 12-19.

The City Council usually meets 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month, and the Committee of the Whole (where most Council discussions take place) meet every Tuesday. Term of office is usually 4 years, but it looks like Ward 7 has both a 4-year and a 2-year (completion of a 4-yr term) position up for election (check with the City to verify). Candidate info can be found here:

The School Board meets once a month on a Tuesday, with occasional Special Meetings. Term of office is 4 years. Here is the information on running for School Board (page 42 has School Board specifics):

There are also 2 seats up for election on the Park Board:

Library Board has 3 seats up for election:

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