Tuesday: Shodeen TIF, water rate increase, pay raises

Tuesday night, 7pm, the Batavia City Council Committee of the Whole has a full agenda to discuss, including:

  • the next steps in the creation of a new TIF for Shodeen to build his massive taxpayer-subsidized apartment complex
  • 3% water rate increase
  • 2.5% pay raises for non-union employees (in excess of 1.4% CPI increase, while employees in the private sector are losing jobs and suffering from Covid ramifications)

See the agenda with its documents and instructions on meeting attendance:https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12012020-1647?html=true

To email the City Council and Mayor: citycouncil@cityofbatavia.net

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Want to Run for Office?

The next local elections are April 6, 2021. If you would like to run for School Board, Mayor, City Council, City Clerk, City Treasurer, Park Board, Library Board, Township Board, or Community College Board, petitions must be filed by December 21 (filing period December 14-21). Petition signature requirements vary.

Candidate information and petition packets: 
School Board  https://www.bps101.net/news/board-of-education-elections-for-april-2021
City  http://cityofbatavia.net/DocumentCenter/View/4785/2021-Candidate-Packet
Library — pick up packet at library checkout desk (newspaper article info https://www.dailyherald.com/submitted/20201015/four-seats-up-for-election-on-batavia-library-board)

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School Tax Levy Tuesday

The Batavia School Board will be voting on its 2020 (payable 2021) tax levy Tuesday night, 11/17, 7pm. Agenda here: https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/Public
As usual, they will be increasing taxes by the maximum allowed by law, so your property taxes will be going up. From the agenda:

You can and should let your thoughts be known to the Board, at the meeting or using the button at right to email, but don’t expect it to make a difference. The only thing that could stop the incessant tax increases would be a new School Board.

If you would like to run for School Board (or any other office), petitions can be circulated now. Filing dates are Dec. 14-21.

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Shodeen TIF Public Hearing TONIGHT

Tonight, Monday, Nov. 2, 7:30pm is the public hearing for the new Shodeen TIF district. Details on attending the meeting are here: http://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11022020-1635?html=true

If you would like to send a comment, they now have an email address for public comments: publiccomment@cityofbatavia.net

If you email your comments, you may ask that they be read into the record during the public hearing.

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Shodeen TIF Thursday

 Update: The JRB passed all measures 6-2, with School District and Township (in support of the School District) voting NO. The City can now do what it wants.
 The School District’s Tony Inglese made an excellent, thorough presentation as to why they were voting NO (long story short, they expect too many students from apartments with no compensation). For as much as I have criticized the School District, Mr. Inglese should be lauded for his efforts as Chief Finance Officer.  There’s a long way to go toward reform, but he’s consistently taking steps in the right direction, shows a keen grasp of issues, and puts in a lot of effort. He was the bright spot in the JRB meeting.

The Joint Review Board, made up of representatives of the various taxing bodies, will meet tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 1, 10:30am, to discuss and approve or reject the new proposed TIF and Redevelopment Plan for Shodeen.
The agenda, with instructions on how you can attend virtually or submit comments, can be found here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_10012020-1616?html=true
You may also attend in person, but seating will be limited.
Public comments, virtually or in person, will be limited to 20 minutes total.
Please consider submitting comments (in agenda linked above). While the City has ignored citizens, there is a chance the other taxing bodies may listen (hope springs eternal).
Batavia Township voted to support the School District, whichever way they vote.
School District has voted NO in the past.
Library Board will vote YES (they and the School District get some money for the duration of the TIF, while other taxing bodies are out of luck; Library Board wanted the money).
We don’t know how the others will vote, so your voice may make a difference.
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Tuesday Meetings

This week Tuesday are 3 meetings, City, Library, and School.

City Committee of the Whole, 7:00pm. From the City’s site:

“The meeting will be broadcast live on BATV’s YouTube channel which can be accessed from their website at myBATV.com or https://www.youtube.com/user/BATV1017. If you plan to attend in person, you must wear a mask and please note there is limited seating available for the public in the room so that social distancing can be maintained.

If you would like to make comment by phone during the meeting, please send a request by email to publiccomment@cityofbatavia.net by 5:00 pm the day of the meeting indicating your name, phone number, the date of the meeting and the topic on which you would like to make comment. You will be called at the number you provided during the meeting at the time for public comment.”

Agenda Item 6. Discussion: Update from the City Administrator and Mayor from their Discussions with Other Taxing Bodies. This is in regard to the creation of a new TIF District. A Joint Review Board will be convened Oct. 1, 10:30am, at City Hall (public welcome), made up of representatives from all the taxing bodies. They will review the grounds the City claims for creating a new TIF District and Redevelopment proposal for Shodeen. I had created a document that I sent to the various taxing bodies with my own arguments against the TIF (can be read here), which leads to the next meeting, the Library Board.

Library Board is having a special meeting at 6pm online, via Zoom, to discuss the TIF proposal and give direction to their representative. Information posted on the Library site: The Board of Library Trustees is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, September 22, at 6:00 p.m., via electronic means (the Zoom platform). Board meetings are open meetings and persons interested in attending this meeting should notify the Library via email at OpenMeetings@BataviaPublicLibrary.org to receive login information.

Another BRG member kindly did the write-up for this week’s School Board meeting (and if anyone likes to write and wouldn’t mind contributing write-ups once in a while, please send a note through the Contact Us page):

Tomorrow night (Tuesday September 22, 2020, 7:00pm), The School Board will be holding their regular monthly meeting.  The meeting will be held at the Fine Arts Center next to the High School.  Seating will be limited to 50 individuals (shouldn’t be a problem if you want to go).  Otherwise the meeting will be streamed live for those who don’t want to attend.

Here is the link to the Agenda and all the documents for the meeting :   https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/Public

Item 4 on the Agenda will be public comments – usually limited to three minutes and when you come into the building, sign up as a speaker with the Secretary.

Items of interest/concern are:

5.10  Approval of Administrator and Teacher Salary & Benefits Report  Make sure to look at not only the salaries, but, also the benefits,

Very, very generous giving out our tax dollars when most of us won’t have benefits packages that large.

7.1 Adoption of the 2021 Budget  – See 2021 Final Budget Summary

7.3 Approval of the Medical Insurance Rates for the 2021 Plan year.  The insurance reserve has increased to 30%, above the 25% target, so the Board will not be required to make additional contributions over its share of premiums.

New Wellness Incentive 

New this year, we are incentivizing participation in the annual wellness assessment with lower employee contributions for medical insurance.  Single plan participants can save $25 per month on the medical insurance contributions and others $50 if both spouses participate in the screening before October 2.  Despite the increases in premiums above, the net result for most employees will be a slight savings over the prior year if they participate in this new incentive.

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School Board Budget Public Hearing

The Batavia School Board will hold a public hearing Tuesday night (8/25/20), 7pm, in the BATAVIA FINE ARTS CENTER (note new meeting place). The budget and summary can be found here: budget (look at the summary).

As the School Board is responsible for over 2/3 of your property taxes, this budget is one you’ll want to pay attention to.

Finance Director, Tony Inglese, has made the budget summary very detailed (kudos to him!), with many useful graphics (especially at the end if you’re short on time or your eyes glaze over when you look at lots of numbers).

They’re looking at another tax increase, as usual, while enrollment declines. Please try to attend the public hearing and voice your comments.

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Shodeen Update

City Council COW (8/11/20) passed all measures furthering the Shodeen apartments 8-6. The 8 aldermen voting yes, in favor of the project: Baerren, Beck, Cerone, Wolff, Chanzit, O’Brien, Russotto, McFadden

No votes: Callahan, Uher, Meitzler, Malay, Miller, Knopp

You can watch it here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rYNV_FWfVEA (watching it at playback speed 1.5 makes it go faster)

Notable discussion points: 

The aldermen supporting the project (led by City Administrator Laura Newman) said the citizens who are against it “don’t understand it”, are listening to “misinformation” (Baerren, Wolff, O’Brien), and are the complainers, while the majority of Batavia wants it because they want a vibrant downtown (Russotto).  Baerren doesn’t see a parking problem downtown (it’s a misinformation problem) and thinks “people just have to walk farther”. Chanzit and McFadden from the start have thought it will be a huge success.

The NO votes set the record straight against the real misinformation (start 1:44:50 with Callahan) and pointed out there will be NO revenue for the City and other taxing bodies for 23 years, and that the School District weighed the information and voted against it (Callahan). Malay noted the towns with big apartments that people hated at first but now love have one thing in common: a nearby train station, and not one constituent he’s talked to supports the project. Meitzler cited ever-changing parameters and ever-increasing costs for his NO. Callahan added he wants us to “be us” and not like every other city. Uher pointed out after the tenants park, we’ll have LESS parking downtown and wants smaller scale. Miller, as a project manager, sees the economic benefits during construction but doesn’t want to change the character of the town with a project that is too big and doesn’t fit Batavia. Knopp talked to many citizens (not listening to “social media”), said the project is just too big, and says “Shodeen”, not “Batavia”.

The most baffling: Beck acknowledged it doesn’t have public support, is out of character, doesn’t have enough parking, and construction can disrupt existing businesses, but voted YES anyway.  Cerone had concerns too, but voted YES as well.

The changes Shodeen wanted—drawing up plans now at City expense and sales tax abatement—did not get put into the RDA.

It now goes to a Monday night City Council meeting for final approval of the COW’s recommendations.

It also has to go to the Joint Review Board, a board made up of representatives from all the taxing bodies. A negative recommendation from them requires a 2/3 vote (10/14) of Council to override. Council doesn’t currently have the votes to override. We know the School District will vote NO, but will have to see about the others.

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Shodeen Apartments on Tuesday Agenda

Update here.

Tuesday night, 8/11/20, 7pm, the Batavia City Council Committee of the Whole (COW) will be discussing approval of a new Redevelopment Agreement (RDA) and TIF District for the massive 6-story Shodeen apartment complex in the heart of downtown Batavia.

The Batavia City Council will be selling roughly 3/4 of a city block they have spent millions of taxpayer dollars on, to Shodeen for $10. Then they will give Shodeen $16 million in General Obligation bonds (plus interest), backed by your tax dollars, to build a 2-story “public” parking garage with 333 parking spaces that will supposedly provide parking for the tenants of the 186 luxury apartments, as well as tenants and customers of the 14,000 sq ft of new retail space, and 2400 sq ft of office space. Oh, and they’ll be tearing down the city’s parking deck, destroying over 200 current parking spaces between the deck and adjacent lots. Shodeen will pay for 0 —that’s ZERO— parking spaces for his tenants, who will have to pay $30/mo. for an overnight parking pass for the “public” garage that anyone living in the downtown area can also purchase. 

Does this sound like a good deal for citizens? But wait! There’s more: Continue reading

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Public Hearing, Shodeen Project — Again

Update: The Plan Commission did not approve point  “5. The project design provides for safe and efficient provision of public services. Finding: The project would increase the amount of public parking in the downtown and reduce the deficit of all parking in the vicinity.” They voted 3-3, a tie when a majority was needed to pass, but everything else passed, as did the project overall. The Commission really had their hands tied because the Council had already changed the zoning requirements for this project, so of course the project would meet the new requirements. The Council did away with height and mass restrictions and parking requirements, rendering the Commission’s job pretty much one of picking colors and materials. The Commission is advisory only, and the Council can and has overridden the Plan Commission’s concerns. Frankly, it was surprising  point 5 was even offered for the Plan Commission’s consideration. 

Tonight, Wednesday, 7:00pm, is a public hearing before the Plan Commission for Shodeen’s 1 N Washington apartment complex. The meeting is virtual, so you can attend from the comfort of your own home. Agenda with documents and instructions on how to attend can be found here:  https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_07012020-1572?html=true

The Plan Commission voted against the project initially, but was overruled by the City Council. There’s not really anything they can do, because the City Council will push it through no matter what. But if you comment during the public hearing, the Council won’t be able to say later, “No citizens objected.”

To get the support of a majority of the aldermen (9 of the 14), Shodeen had to put the retail back on Wilson St.  What Shodeen before claimed was not financially feasible, has suddenly become feasible again. The new plan calls for 14,180 sq ft of retail space on the ground floor portions of the development on Wilson and River Streets, 2,370 sq ft of office space above the retail along River, 91 2-br apartments, 95 1-br apartments, and just 333 parking spaces in the “public” parking garage the City will issue $16 million in bonds to build.

If you read the agenda document, you will see what the Plan Commission is to rule on.

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