Should Batavia Allow “Pot” Shops?

Short summary of the meeting: Mayor Schielke will veto any ordinance that proposes allowing marijuana dispensaries in Batavia, necessitating 10 aldermen (out of 14) to override him. Most aldermen seem to favor pot shops. A couple of aldermen want to wait and see what the consequences are for St. Charles and other towns before moving on it. At least one doesn’t want to wait and wants to get in line for a dispensary. Aldermen sent the issue back to legal counsel to better define terms for more discussion at a later date.

On Tuesday nights’s 7pm City Council Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting agenda is a discussion whether or not to allow marijuana dealers to establish store fronts in Batavia.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, recreational marijuana will be legal in Illinois. Anyone 21 and older will be able to legally smoke pot. But cities can choose whether or not to allow dealers to sell the drug in their communities.

Here’s the agenda item with more details: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/14108?fileID=10472

If you cannot attend the meeting, you can contact the City Council and Mayor through the button at right.

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School District Tentative 2020 Budget on Display

Tentative Budget for 2020 is on display in the July 23, 2019 Board documents.
The state form is here.
Schedule from website:
  • July 23, 2019 – Discuss and place a tentative budget on public display.
  • August 20, 2019 – Hold a public hearing on the budget and consider any significant revisions.
  • September 24, 2019 – Adopt the final budget.
Video of meeting where they discuss the budget (should be cued to start of budget discussion about 15 min in): https://youtu.be/kO_9Uk44lnE?t=927

They plan for the maximum property tax increase as usual (Consumer Price Index, 1.9% projected this year), while enrollment is declining. Health insurance benefit costs are out of control (with $250 deductibles, of course they are; hopefully ongoing contract negotiations will fix that).

If you cannot attend the public hearing, there is a Contact button for the School Board at right.
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Batavia Taxes Highest in Tri-Cities

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.

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Taxpayer-Funded Health Insurance

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.

 

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Election Day

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:

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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:

Continue reading

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Shodeen, the Final Battle

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.

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“You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

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.

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New Year, Same Old Story

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.

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Propositions Explained

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

Vote NO

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.

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