Artificial Turf + Tax Levy Increase = Out of Touch School Board

On the agenda for Tuesday night’s (Nov. 17) Batavia School Board meeting:

  1. Vote to spend $56,000 on a design proposal for artificial turf. According to estimates from Sep. 2014, the artificial turf itself plus the necessary storm water detention that goes with it, would cost nearly $2 million for installation. The other changes that they want plus the artificial turf would cost $4.8 million for the football stadium alone. PLUS, the estimate doesn’t include an additional $500,000 every 8-10 yrs (at least $50,000/yr if they save for it) to replace just the one field of artificial turf. Artificial turf is admittedly more costly to maintain than natural grass, plus carries many risks to health and safety. More on the athletic fields redevelopment plan can be found here.
  2. Plans, again, to levy taxes to the maximum allowed by law, increasing the levy by the CPI (.8% this year) plus new construction. Because the CPI is so low and after new construction is added in, they’re projecting savings for homeowners. But their projections may not be so rosy for you if your home’s value increased more than others’ (it’s all relative).  If you want to see what their proposal will mean for your home, go to the Batavia Township Assessor‘s website (or whatever township assessor you belong to), look up your assessments for 2014 and 2015, subtract your homestead exemption (if applicable–usually $6000) and multiply the differences (Net Taxable Value) by the respective school district tax rates of .065706 for 2014 and .063351 projected for 2015.

Blanket statements of estimated savings don’t work. It’s better to acknowledge that as long as they keep raising their levy and spending more money, even as enrollment is declining, there will be people paying more taxes.

What can you do? Email the school board by clicking the button to the right. Pressure them to put the artificial turf to referendum. They really believe the recently defeated referendum was just about voters not wanting more debt, and that we really would like artificial turf if it can be done without the debt. Let’s see if that’s true by putting it to referendum. Then ask them to stop the automatic tax levy increases every year. If they have lots of money sitting around for things like artificial turf, they can certainly afford to give taxpayers a significant property tax break.

Better yet, show up at the Tuesday night meeting, 7pm. If you wish to speak, be there before 7pm and fill out their pink sheet with your name and topic; being at all late means they won’t let you speak. Will they listen? Probably not. But at least you’ll have tried.

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5 Responses to Artificial Turf + Tax Levy Increase = Out of Touch School Board

  1. bdogs95 says:

    Just wondering what your solution is for a lack of space at the high school? You say you are opposed to this plan, but offer no solutions. You can’t deny the fact that BHS has severely inadequate facilities. Yes, real grass fields might be cheaper to maintain, but if you divide the cost by the number of times it’s actually used, I think you’ll find differently. It was mentioned during the board meeting that the stadium grass field can only be used about 20 times per year? Is that a good return on the money spent to maintain the field? I would be interested in hearing your solutions to the space problems at the high school.

    • seektruth says:

      One way of looking at it is all the athletes currently practice somewhere, do they not? While some soccer teams, lacrosse, and marching band practice off campus, they do not have to go far. It is not unreasonable to make good use of the school district’s other facilities that are already being maintained by the taxpayers.

      • bdogs95 says:

        Holding practices off campus is an added expense, not to mention a huge safety liability. I don’t think it’s a luxury for our high school students to be able to practice on campus, it should be a necessity. What is being proposed in upgrades isn’t above and beyond what any other high school the size of BHS currently has.

  2. seektruth says:

    The added expense of off-campus practice is minimal compared to the cost of artificial turf. A couple of numbers floating around are $1.1 million for one artificial turf field (not including the cost of necessary drainage) and $8,000/yr for lacrosse to rent space. I don’t know if either of those is correct, but let’s go with those numbers. At $8,000/yr, it would take 137.5 yrs to equal the cost of turf at $1.1 million.

    I don’t know why there would be greater safety liability, as the teams typically practice on school district property. Whether at the high school or middle school or grammar school, it’s all school district property. If they rent out, say, Mooseheart property, it should be no different than the liabilities associated with playing an away game, for which I’d imagine the teams purchase insurance coverage.

    St. Charles doesn’t have artificial turf at either of its high schools, both of which are equal to or exceed Batavia in enrollment. Besides, if every other high school drove their school buses off a bridge, would you want yours to do the same?

    • bdogs95 says:

      What does driving a bus off a bridge have to do with providing adequate practice space for high school athletes? Pretty bad analogy if you asked me. If you looked at both the St Charles schools I would bet you would find practice space for each team. If Batavia had practice fields then I could see the argument for not adding turf. Field turf at the high school helps with the inadequate amount of space, it can be used multiple times a day. Your math in the last comment is also way off. I don’t believe the Field Turf is for lacrosse ONLY. Field Turf could be used by lots of different teams and as an outdoor space for P.E. classes during the school day.

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