Flooding Studies, Limited Funds

At the Aug. 23 City Council COW meeting (item 5 on the agenda) there was a presentation on a study done on the east side of Batavia in response to flooding issues. A quick summary of the Presentation and Report is that the City could alleviate much of the east side’s flooding problems by installing wider diameter drain pipes in certain areas that are not up to current standards. The cost given to do the work on the east side is $2,195,000. There was $400,000 allotted for the studies and remedies for budget yr 2016. It’s probably safe to guess, especially after the west side report is given Sep. 13 (where they don’t just get rainwater in their basements, but poop as well), that the City will say it doesn’t have the money to fix the sewers all at once.

There is a limited amount of money that the City has to work with. When the City Council runs out of money and wants to increase spending, it can increase taxes and/or fees for long-term planning, or issue bonds to fill an immediate need, with the cost ultimately being higher due to interest payments. There is no magic tree that produces unlimited amounts of cash.

For the residents of Batavia who have experienced flooding in heavy rainstorms, the decisions the City Council will make Tuesday night, Sep. 6, could make a big difference. The Washington-Wilson Redevelopment (Shodeen) Agreement, along with the purchase of the Larson-Becker and Frydendall properties, add up to a lot of money. The 2 properties to be voted on Tuesday night total $1.45 million in purchase costs, plus another estimated $1.7 million for a 3rd property purchase and demolition costs at the Redevelopment site, all contributing to the Washington-Wilson Redevelopment project. That’s over $3 million for just properties and demolition. There’s not that much money in the 2 TIFs this proposal stretches across, so money will have to be borrowed, most likely through bonds. Then there’s the other $14 million in bonds to be issued for the parking garage of the Redevelopment project. There will be a gap of at least a few years between when the bonds are issued and when the building is finished and starts producing tax revenue to pay the bonds. Be prepared for tax increases in the near future to cover these costs.

So what about the residents with flooding? How much in tax increases do you think the residents of Batavia are willing to take on? How much should they take on? The property purchases and demolition costs from the Redevelopment project alone are enough to cover the East Side’s necessary sewer improvements all at once. Which is more important? Which is the proper role of government? These are questions that should be answered by the City Council Tuesday, Sep. 6, 7:30pm. If you have any concerns about flooding or the Washington-Wilson project, this is the meeting at which you should voice them.

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