Attend the School Board Meeting Virtually

From the BPS101 website:

…the District has determined that the March 24th meeting will be held virtually. The decision was made based on current guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health to take social distancing measures.

The public is welcome to participate in this meeting. Options for the public include:

Listening to the meeting live by calling (662) 532-5431 PIN: ‪564 110 247#‬

Public comment is allowed at the beginning of our Board meetings. Comments are limited to three minutes per person. If you would like to participate:

  • Email the superintendent at lisa.hichens@bps101.netwith your comments. They will be read at the meeting OR
  • The Board President will also ask for public comments during the virtual meeting, but to ensure that you are heard, it is recommended that you email  lisa.hichens@bps101.net with your intent to comment.
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Shodeen TIF on Batavia SCHOOL BOARD Agenda

The School Board is not taking a break for the coronavirus and has on its 7:00pm, Tuesday night (3/24) Agenda the Shodeeen TIF extension. If the School Board votes against extending the TIF district an extra 12 years (35 years total), the TIF extension option dies and the City Council will have to do something else to keep their pet project going (like undoing the TIF and redoing it for 23 years, which is more complicated).

The School Board voted against the original TIF formation, but TIF district creation does not require their consent, only extension does. The School Board had thought the City underestimated the number of students the apartments would produce, and the school district would be burdened with educating the students without Shodeen paying his fair share for them.

Usually about 2/3 (67%) of our property taxes go to the school district. In a TIF district, tax dollars get diverted from all the many taxing bodies and go to the City alone, which the City then uses to redevelop a “blighted” area, often giving public tax dollars to private developers (like Shodeen). There are some exceptions for the school district: under law, Shodeen’s taxes would have to pay the cost per student (around $12,500 when last mentioned), up to 40% of the apartments’ property tax (excluding the retail space property tax). So BPS101 would receive 0-<40% of the tax dollars from Shodeen instead of 67%, and the other non-City taxing bodies get nothing…for 23 years, or if extended, 35 years.

We all pay taxes to the school district, whether we have children in it or not; it’s part of our societal obligation. Shodeen is being given a pass on his obligation with this TIF district. His taxes will go to pay the bonds that will build his parking garage, a “public” garage that his tenants will use, that doesn’t even have enough parking spaces to meet code for his tenants. Is it fair wealthy Shodeen gets his property taxes reinvested in his property, while the rest of us poorer folks cannot do the same, all the while shortchanging the institutions that rely on our taxes?

Please contact the School Board (button at right) and let them know how you would like them, as your elected representatives, to vote on this. Should they again vote NO to the TIF?

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City Council Votes to Extend Shodeen TIF

The City Council COW passed the Shodeen TIF extension 9-4 on 3/3/20. They’re sticking with the project. The apartments will be built if all the taxing bodies agree to the extension, if the legislature passes the extension, and Shodeen gets a bank to finance his portion:

—Yes: O’Brien, Wolff, McFadden, Chanzit, Knopp, Miller, Russotto, Beck, Baerren

—No: Callahan, Cerone, Uher, Malay

—Absent: Meitzler

The full City Council passed it 9-5 on 3/16/20:

—Yes: Miller, Russotto, Beck, Chanzit, Wolff, Baerren, O’Brien, Cerone, McFadden

—No: Knopp, Callahan, Meitzler, Malay, Uher

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Shodeen Apartments Back on the Table

Shodeen’s 1 North Washington project has come back, yet again, to the City Council and is on Tuesday night’s COW agenda.

Apparently, Shodeen ran into trouble getting a loan for the apartments because the TIF District is set to expire before the $16 million bonds do. After Shodeen’s delays and then the soil contamination delay, the expiration dates’ timing is no surprise, but is suddenly now a problem.

The options they are looking at are:

Continue reading

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$27 Million Rec Center Referendum March 17

The Batavia Park District has a referendum on the ballot for the March 17, 2020 General Primary (early voting has started at the Kane County Clerk’s Office ONLY; widespread early voting begins March 3). They are asking taxpayers to approve $27 million in bonds to build a Batavia Activities and Recreation Center (BARC). The bonds are estimated to cost the owner of a $300,000 home $178/yr in additional taxes for 20 years. Plus there will be more taxes to operate it (their optimistic pro forma has it 91% funded by user fees, rising to 93% in 6 years–never 100%). Then there will be more cost to use it.

Batavia Park District’s referendum information here: https://bataviaparks.org/2020-referendum .  Fee schedule here, beginning on p. 51 (53/62): https://bataviaparks.org/upload/BARCBusinessPlan_.pdf   NOTE: be sure to add $178 (or whatever your bond share will be, roughly $60 per $100,000 property value) to the annual fee costs. So the $700 annual Family Pass Combo is really $700 + $178 = $878 + ? taxes to cover what fees do not.

The BARC would be located on the east side of the river, off of Rt. 25, just south of Funway. It would have an 8-lane lap pool, 1 indoor artificial turf field, 1 multi-purpose (e.g., basketball) court, walking/running track, group wellness/fitness area (with limited cardio equipment), a warming kitchen, and meeting rooms. It is not designed to be a drop-in gym like XSport Fitness. Hours of availability for paid general use vs. Park District programming and rentals have not been specified as of this writing.

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Marijuana Going to Referendum

After being divided 10-4, favoring allowing marijuana dispensaries (“pot shops”), the Batavia City Council decided to put the issue to referendum on the November 2020 ballot. Kudos to the Council for letting the people decide.

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Marijuana Back on City Council’s Plate

Up for discussion at the Batavia City Council Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night (1/14), 7pm, are marijuana dispensaries (“pot shops”). It is #19 on the agenda.

Should the City of Batavia allow drug dealers to establish marijuana dispensaries in Batavia? While marijuana use may be legal for adults in Illinois, dispensaries must be approved by city governments.

Mayor Schielke has said he will veto any pot shops, requiring a 2/3 majority (10 out of 14 aldermen) to override the veto. At the last discussion, it appeared a majority of aldermen would approve pot shops, maybe even a 2/3 majority. Please give your aldermen (and the whole Council) direction how you would want them to represent you.

Some cons and pros of recreational marijuana dispensaries:

Cons

  • Gives children the wrong idea that getting high on drugs is good because the City approves it
  • Is a fully cash-based business (federally insured banks cannot transport or transmit funds from marijuana dealers, so no bank accounts or credit cards), creating a burglary risk, putting strain on the police
  • Dispensaries increase many types of crime in surrounding neighborhoods: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170427130750.htm
  • Creates traffic and parking problems
  • Profits off human weakness and sin

Pros

  • Money—City can impose up to 3% marijuana sales tax

Please come to the meeting if you are at all able. If you are unable to attend, please email your aldermen/Council (contact button at right).

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Batavia 2020 City Budget Public Hearing

There is a public hearing on the City of Batavia’s 2020 Proposed Budget on Tuesday, 11/12, 7pm, City Council Chambers.

Something has happened to the City Council’s secretary, because the minutes from meetings have gone from fantastic to practically useless. Agendas have also become less informative. You have to watch the BATV videos to know what is going on.

From the budget presentation (https://www.cityofbatavia.net/DocumentCenter/View/4365/2020-Draft-Budget-COW-10-29-19) and Tuesday’s agenda item (https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/14431?fileID=10645), it appears there were several proposals for the budget, most raising taxes far above the Consumer Price Index (the limit had there been no home rule). It looks like City Council requested the property tax levy increase be kept to CPI, which will result in some cuts, some staff and project requests postponed, and the reserves being drawn down. Pensions are an expensive problem that will not be fully addressed if taxes are to increase only by CPI.

Additionally, it looks like they will be authorizing a 3% water rate increase and a 4% sewer rate increase (items 10 and 11 on the agenda: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11122019-1462?html=true).

I really wish there were more information in the minutes of the past meetings where the budget was discussed. There are also no memos on the past agendas to indicate what they will be talking about. If you have the time, you can watch the discussions on BATV on

Nov. 5 starts at 4:46 https://youtu.be/VQDFrt-iMJM?t=286

Oct. 29 starts at 51:12 https://youtu.be/yNxa50CH3gc?t=3072

Please attend the public hearing. When no one shows up, it may be assumed no one cares.

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Union, Health, and Budget Review

Regarding tonight’s School Board meeting, please attend if you are able, or you can use the button at right to submit comments to the Board.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the documents before tonight’s meeting, one of our BRG members submitted a summary review, pasted below:

September 30th Bullets

First, Tony [Inglese—Finance Director] and whoever helped him has done an outstanding job of creating a transparent, plain language budget document.  Good Job!

Second, I noticed that no Tax Anticipation Warrants were needed for the second year in a row.  Again, Good Job!

Third, I remember a 2 million dollar surplus – again a good job!

Fourth, I’m glad to see you have held the line on overhead costs, with very small increases in administration, buses, etc.  Good job!

This translates to an argument for local control by local community school Boards.  If you have a good Board and a good staff,  good things can happen.  (Of course, we can’t forget engaged citizens who serve as, I have to say it, watchdogs of the district operations and budgets).  I’ve always said everybody needs a watchdog to provide challenge to ideas and debate over direction.

Now to the BEA contract – for the most part the District does have hard working and dedicated teachers.

Now for the Shoe to Drop:

Everyone who isn’t a teacher in Batavia would love to have a work contract with the salaries and benefits in this contract.

  • Generous salaries,
  • perks,
  • every kind of leave you could think of (I counted 9 areas),
  • holidays and long vacations,
  • “CADILLAC” level health, dental, and vision plans,
  • guaranteed retirement at certain ages and with certain incomes for the rest of their lives. 

Nobody I talk to in my neighborhood has a contract close to this.

Social Security has had many years without any raise in the last ten years.  Medicare and supplements are taken right out of their base monthy payment, thereby reducing their paycheck.  They lose ground to inflation and rising costs every year, raises never keep up, let alone exceed inflation every year like in the proposed BEA contract.

Are the teacher paid enough now?  Not to be facetious, but, I see the teachers driving very nice cars and dressing very nice.

Also, for residents in the 10,000 plus homes in Batavia, most are paid based on a measurement of their performance and value added to the company.

I read the proposed BEA contract and then searched for the word “evaluation” and no word “evaluation” was found in the document.  I noticed raises and increases for “actions”, but, saw no raises or rewards for performance.  There is an old saying that “activities” are not a true measure of “accomplishments.”  Is it hard to do an evaluation of a teacher’s accomplishments with objective measurements?

And is the great work environment considered when negotiating the contract?  The teachers get to drive into a safe town, work in safe schools, and have students that mostly come from stable homes to teach.  And I would guess most students have been taught ethics, values, and morality at home verses some other student populations in Illinois.

A couple comments on the budget.  I noticed that percentages either way can be deceiving and require some analysis.  A big percentage hike on small amounts could be insignificant.

I did notice though on page 17:

 

Data processing services [4]  188,850 238,045 829,283  248.4%

 

and I find that footnote:  ” 4 Increasing technology maintenance and student software; reclassification of software supplies to professional services” was a little short on detail for such a large change in expenditures.

Has this been planned and discussed and approved by the Board?

 

And from another BRG member:

Included in the BEA contract is pension-spiking of 6%/year in the final 4 years before retirement. The Teachers’ Retirement Service pays a pension of 75% of the average of the highest 4 years of salaries in the last decade of employment (plus 3% annual compounding COLA increases!). Pension spiking only adds to Illinois’ pension crisis and further burdens taxpayers.

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Teachers Union Contract, Health Insurance, Budget

Tomorrow, Monday 9/30, 5:00pm —a loaded school board meeting: teachers union contract, health insurance contract, district budget. If you plan to attend, NOTE THE TIME is 5:00pm.

Here are the district’s summaries—

Union contract:

The recommended Negotiated Agreement would create a new 4-year contract with the BEA running from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2023. The tentative agreement contains total salary increase of 3.7% in the first year and approximately 2.5% in subsequent years.  On average, individual educators are expected to see an increase of approximately 3.6% each year.

Key highlights include:

  • A new approach to teacher salaries that is tied to new revenues and incentivizes more meaningful professional learning and advancement.
  • The creation of BPSU, an internal university for teachers to improve professional practice based on their needs and the learning needs of their students.
  • A retirement incentive plan tied to pension eligibility.
  • A reorganized contract designed to improve readability and understanding.

 

Health Insurance:

Last April, the Board approved the renewal of various insurance contracts and converted the plan year to coincide with the calendar year instead of the fiscal year. As we conclude the resulting interim six-month plan year, we must once again hold open enrollment for the new plan year that will begin on January 1.

After much review and deliberation, the Insurance and Benefits Committee has unanimously decided it is in the best interests of employees and the Board to take a new approach to medical insurance offerings (Attachment A). Further, the Committee recommends that all employee classes receive the same Board contribution rates, which will require conversions for some exempt staff. A summary of the recommended plan designs follow:

Traditional PPO

The traditional PPO has been revamped to encourage employees to seek more cost-effective care through a higher deductible, now $625. With lower premiums and maximum out-of-pocket costs, most employees will experience an overall annual savings.

Tier

Annual Premium

Board Contribution

Employee Contribution

Employee

$10,394

80%

20%

Employee + spouse

$20,593

80%

20%

Employee + child(ren)

$19,762

80%

20%

Family

$30,576

80%

20%

Savings PPO+HSA

With the same network as the traditional PPO, the savings PPO+HSA plan offers a high deductible plan paired with a health savings account (HSA). With the Board contributing cash toward deductibles and allowing employees to keep any money they save, employees will likely make more cost-effective decisions that balance care and convenience. If the deductible ($3,000) is exceeded on this plan, all additional costs are covered at 100%.

Tier

Annual Premium

Board Contribution + HSA Contribution

Employee Contribution

Employee

$8,341

85% + $1,500

15%

Employee + spouse

$16,526

85% + $3,000

15%

Employee + child(ren)

$15,859

85% + $3,000

15%

Family

$24,537

85% + $3,000

15%

 

To help employees convert to the savings PPO+HSA plan, the Committee recommends the Board offer the following incentives in the first year only:

  • An additional $500 in HSA contributions for all tiers
  • Up-front the total HSA contribution so that funds are immediately available to employees for claims

 

In future years, the Committee recommends that HSA contributions will be paid in equal installments based on the employee’s pay periods.

 https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/files/BGERK86BEF62/$file/Attachment%20A.pdf

 

Budget:

Attached are two documents that comprise the FY20 Budget:

  1. The Budget Summary, which provides the Board and community with information regarding key budget assumptions and a detailed summary of revenues and expenditures.
  2. The ISBE Budget Form, which is the official budget and must be submitted to the County and State and published on the District’s website.

https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/files/BGETCE76B4D5/$file/FY20%20Final%20Budget%20Summary.pdf

 

https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/files/BGETCG76B503/$file/FY20%20ISBE%20Budget%20Form.pdf

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