Update: The petitions for a referendum to remove home rule were denied ballot access following a hearing before the Electoral Board in response to an objection filed by recently-retired City Administrator Bill McGrath. The 381 signatures submitted were short of the 764 signatures required for a referendum.
Today (3pm) petitions were filed to put home rule to referendum on the April 4 ballot in the City of Batavia. Many people, the majority of whom had never circulated petitions before, stepped up to contribute to the effort, which was organized by Batavians for Responsible Government.
This had to be a shared effort, since the past practice for collecting large quantities of signatures–standing outside of businesses on Randall Road–was no longer an option due the corporate policies of the major businesses against petitioning on their property. “If corporate America were more civic-minded, exercising our right to petition the government would be much easier,” commented petition circulator Carl Dinwiddie.
Even the Batavia Public Library denied access to petition circulators before Friday, when the policy banning petitioning was temporarily suspended pending review by the Library Board.
Concerns that resonated with the signers of the petition were the nearly unlimited power to increase taxes that home rule gives, a possible Stormwater Utility, as well as the inability of the citizens to petition for referenda on bonds issued by the City. Many want a voice in the $14 million bonds the City plans to issue for the 186-unit apartment complex proposed as a joint venture between the developer, Shodeen, and the City of Batavia. For other signers, the idea of putting the issue to the voters to decide was reason enough.