City Council Putting Cart Before Horse…Again

One North Washington (Shodeen apartments) is on hold. The 13-year TIF extension was voted down by the School Board, killing the extension, effectively killing the project because Shodeen needs 20-year bonds. BUT the project refuses to die. Now the City Council is considering dismantling the TIF district they created for Shodeen, and creating a new TIF for Shodeen. But that may not be possible (they can hardly argue “blight” when all those “blighted” properties have been leveled). Staff has been instructed to investigate a new TIF’s feasibility. NO DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE ON A NEW TIF. So what’s puzzling is the rush to sign new contracts related to Shodeen.

Items of concern on tonight’s agenda:

15. RESOLUTION 20-079-R: Authorizing a Contract with WGI, Inc. to Provide Parking Consultant Review Services on behalf of the City for One Washington Place

A summary: This is a contract for $20,500 for 3rd party review of the proposed parking garage design–understandable IF the project were going through. There is a 10% retainer ($2050) for what could be nothing. 4 aldermen recognized it was putting the cart before the horse and voted NO. The other 9 voted YES (Meitzler absent) to bring it for final approval tonight at 7:30pm.

Aldermen voting NO: Callahan, Uher, Cerone, Knopp

16. RESOLUTION 20-073-R: Execution of an Independent Contractor Agreement for Economic Development Consultant

A summary: This is a $3,000/month contract with no hours of service outlined (as was brought up by an alderman). The contract says, “The specific consulting services to be performed by the Consultant shall be related to establishment of a new TIF that includes the One Washington Place redevelopment project (the “Project”) unless additional services are requested by the City Administrator or Director of Community and Economic Development and agreed to by the Consultant.”  The argument being made is the coronavirus crisis has curtailed the hiring of a Business Development Manager to take the place of an Economic Development Consultant, in which capacity Chris Aiston has been working for a number of years. Aiston, along with former City Administrator Bill McGrath, brought Shodeen to Batavia, and at every appearance before the City Council, Aiston, at least to some, seemed to argue more for Shodeen than for the citizens’ interests. Aiston was supposed to have retired Memorial Day, but this will keep him on, primarily to create a new TIF for Shodeen, per contract. It was approved at COW unanimously, with aldermen arguing Aiston can be consulted on other projects that may come up until a Business Development Manager is hired. City Administrator Laura Newman made it clear that there will be a team of 3 (including herself) to work on new projects, and that Aiston will primarily be concerned with the TIF.

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