Tentative BPS Budget

This Tuesday, 7/20/21, 7pm, Rosalie Jones Admin. Building, the School Board will discuss the budget for the next school year. Public hearing will be in August. Of course, maximum tax increases are proposed. Tentative budget here:  https://go.boarddocs.com/il/bps101/Board.nsf/files/C4WTBS769B06/$file/FY22%20Tentative%20Budget%20Summary.pdf

During public comments, a group of parents will be asking the School Board to make masks and Covid vaccines optional for students (at the discretion of the parents). If you would like to show your support, they’ve asked you to please attend the meeting wearing something red.

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Prairie State, School Budget, Building, and More

City Council and School Board both have items of interest Tuesday, 6/22/21. Both meetings are at 7pm. Please consider writing to one (using the Quick Contact button at right) and attending the other.

City Council COW:

Council will talk about sending a more “forceful” letter to some members of the IL General Assembly and the governor because they seem to have ignored the first one that was sent. They are asking legislators not to pass a law that would mandate renewable energy sources and close down the Prairie State coal-fired power plant where we get 100+% of our electricity while paying off millions of dollars in bonds for construction and operating costs (https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/16670?fileID=12523 )

In another item, Council will consider hitting us with a 2% per year (and maybe more) electric rate increase till 2030, in case the bill passes, so it won’t be an all-at-once shock to us–kind of like the story of the frog in the pot, where if you increase the temperature gradually, the frog does not realize it is being boiled and will not jump out of the pot. It’s scary. Read it for yourself: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/16671?fileID=12524

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3-4 New Schools? Virtual Q&A Tonight

The Batavia School District is looking to tear down 4 elementary schools and build 3-4 new ones. Enrollment is declining. There are no cost estimates yet. They are having a virtual Q&A tonight (4/26) at 6pm (registration required).

They have a survey available. The questions are vague, undefined, and geared toward positive responses if you answer honestly. Who wouldn’t support “flexible learning spaces”? But does that means not bolting down the desks so they can be moved around, or a new building?

Recommendation: do not finish the survey and send your thoughts directly to the School Board, as there is no room for comments on the survey. The red button at right will take you to the School Board’s Contact page.

Here is more information, including a link to register for tonight’s meeting and the survey:  https://www.bps101.net/boft/

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Local Elections 2021

Tomorrow, April 6, are the 2021 Consolidated Elections. PLEASE VOTE!!! There are only 3 contested races for Batavia residents: City Council Wards 6 and 7 and Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees. All other offices have candidates running unopposed.

Sample ballots can be found here: https://www.kanecountyclerk.org/Elections

Not sure what ward you live in? Besides looking at your sample ballot, you can find a City ward map and your current aldermen here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/233/City-Council-Committee-of-the-Whole

Please research the candidates on your own. The few comments provided here should serve only as a start. The Daily Herald has candidate questionnaires available. If you do not have a subscription, you can access the questionnaires online through your Batavia Library account. You may also view the League of Women Voters candidate forum here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_k6wPCuNCs

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$5 Million Shed

Update: In May, the City canceled its contract to buy the building.

The City Council COW approved, by a vote of 8-4, a purchase agreement for a building on Raddant for storing equipment, and will finalize that vote Monday night (3/1), 7:30pm. The building, assessed at $2.975 million, will be purchased for $3.55 million, though the Council intends to pass $5 million in bonds to pay for the building, the build-out, and whatever else they feel like spending the money on. The bond payments will be added directly to your property taxes, about $24.40/yr for 20 yrs for a $300,000 home. 

Here’s the breakdown of the building usage:

24,200 sq ft for the City (Public Works Department)

20,000 sq ft for the Interfaith Food Pantry/Clothes Closet

14,600 sq ft to be rented to the current tenant for $85,000/yr. Note: City Council may decide to NOT put that rent money toward the bond payments to reduce your additional property tax burden. They made it clear they may choose to spend it elsewhere.

Here’s the agenda item: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/16190?fileID=12239
And the meeting agenda with instructions if you wish to attend the meeting virtually (preregistration required) or in person on Monday, 3/1/21, 7:30pm: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_03012021-1690?html=true

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$5 Million Shed???

Item 7 on Tuesday’s Batavia City Council Committee of the Whole Agenda is discussion geared toward purchasing property for $5 million. Bonds would be issued that would be paid with an INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES. The agenda document basically says they would like to purchase prime industrial property to store stuff, in other words, to use as a shed. That’s $5 MILLION…for a shed:

“Our Public Works Department works in a cramped environment and stores many pieces of equipment outside in the elements that would have a longer life if we were able to store them indoors…. These space and storage issues have not been brought to Council’s attention because, up to now, the only solution would be to purchase land and build a new facility. The situation does not warrant this at present, and it would not be the best use of the City’s resources to construct such a facility….”

So instead of constructing an inexpensive post frame building (Menards has materials for a 30’ x 40’ x 10’ building for $9300), the City is thinking of spending $5 MILLION PLUS INTEREST of taxpayer money to buy a big building they don’t really need, to use as a storage shed. Not only that, but the property’s assessed value is only $3 million (from Kane County Property Tax Inquiry).

They try to justify the purchase by saying they can let the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet and the Toy Drive use the space too, but the Food Pantry and Clothes Closet already have space the City gives them rent-free, with utilities paid by taxpayers, and the Toy Drive only operates right before Christmas, with private businesses (especially BEI) having stepped up to help after the City demolished the Baptist Church the Toy Drive had used for years.

The cost to the owner of a $300,000 home would start at $24.40 (subject to change with changing home values)/yr, for 20 years!

PLUS, the City would be taking prime industrial property off the tax rolls. Last year that property brought in over $86,000 in property taxes. When there are less properties to pay taxes, the remaining property owners have to make up the difference, meaning your property taxes would go up even more!

PLUS, since Batavia is committed to buying a fixed amount of electricity from its disastrous Prairie State power plant deal, and industrial customers use far more energy than would a storage shed, turning it from industrial use to City use means homeowners would have to pay more in electric bills to cover the cost of the unused electricity.

Let the City Council know what you think of this idea. Contact info here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/233/City-Council-Committee-of-the-Whole

Please attend the virtual meeting if you can at 7pm Tuesday, 2/2. Agenda with virtual meeting registration info here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_02022021-1677?html=true

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Monday—Shodeen TIF/Apartments Final Vote

Update: The TIF District passed 8-7, with the Council tied and Mayor Schielke breaking the tie in favor.

YES: Baerren, O’Brien, Cerone, McFadden, Russotto, Chanzit, Wolff, Schielke

NO: Callahan, Meitzler, Malay, Uher, Miller, Beck, Knopp

Final vote of the City Council on the TIF District/Shodeen apartments project will be taken MONDAY NIGHT (1/4/21), 7:30pm.

A City Council YES vote for the new TIF District would set construction plans in motion for the massive 6-story apartment complex. A NO vote would end plans for Shodeen’s project, but leave the current TIF districts in place to provide assistance for other projects.

Please let your elected officials know how you would like them to represent you. EMAIL OR CALL YOUR ALDERMEN, CITY COUNCIL, and MAYOR. If you say nothing now, you give up your right to complain later. Continue reading

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Local Elections April 2021

Elections have consequences. Your property taxes are the result of local elections. This is where your property taxes went this past year (rounded):

School District 67%
City 8%
Park District 6%
Waubonsee 6%
Library 5%
Kane County 4%
Forest Preserve 2%
Township 1%
Township Road .5%

chart: Kane County Clerk

School Board

The School Board intends to keep raising your taxes the maximum amount allowed by law every year: by the Consumer Price Index (inflation) or 5%, whichever is less. Even as enrollment is declining, the School Board plans to increase your taxes. You can read the enrollment projections at https://www.bps101.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/FY22-Enrollment-Projection.pdf  and financial projections at https://www.bps101.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2022-Financial-Forecast.pdf. Quality education does not require raising taxes every year.

Right now, there are 4 candidates for 4 School Board seats, including 2 incumbents (Meadows and Locke). Candidate list at https://kaneapplications.countyofkane.org/ElectionWebsite/en-us/Candidates/List/21/NP). These 4 seats represent a majority that will hold over the next 4 years. If you want to make a change, now is the time. Run for election.

The School Board meets typically once a month, on a Tuesday night, with occasional special meetings as need be. 50 signatures are required for candidates. Candidate packet can be found here: https://www.kanecountyclerk.org/Elections/Documents/School%20Board%20Members%202021.pdf

Filing deadline is 5:00pm Monday (12/21) at the Kane County Clerk’s office in Geneva.

City Council

Are you happy with the City Council? Are you being informed what is going on by your elected representatives? Do you like the direction the City is going? While past actions may be fixed, future decisions are not. There are 7 Wards in Batavia, 2 aldermen per ward, half (+ 1 half term) up for election in 2021. Find your ward here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/233/City-Council-Committee-of-the-Whole

These were the candidates I heard had filed last week (* denotes incumbent):

*Jennifer Baerren—Ward 1 (4-year)
Christopher Solfa—Ward 1 (2-year)
Leah Leman—Ward 2
*Tony Malay—Ward 4
*Mark Uher—Ward 5
Sarah Vogelsinger—Ward 7 

City Council members meet 1st & 3rd Mondays, for which they get paid $200/meeting. They also meet every Tuesday for the Committee of the Whole. Candidate signature requirements in all but Ward 5 are 20 or less (Ward 5 is 28). Candidate packet with more info can be found at https://www.cityofbatavia.net/DocumentCenter/View/4785/2021-Candidate-Packet?bidId=

Filing deadline is 5:00pm Monday (12/21) at Batavia City Hall.


Other branches of government up for election in April:
Township/Township Road

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City Budget, Tax Levy, Pay Raises

Update: Everything passed. Aldermen Callahan and Meitzler held firm against the pay raises.

Tonight (12/7) at 7:30pm, The Batavia City Council is set to approve a budget, tax levy, and 2.5% pay raises for non-union employees. Based on last week’s COW, it looks like the budget will increase spending, running a deficit but dipping into reserves to keep the tax rate the same as last year (but if your home’s assessed value went up, your taxes will probably go up too since EAV x rate = taxes).

As for the 2.5% pay raises for non-union employees, several aldermen, especially Callahan, Knopp, and Uher, argued that citizens are hurting, losing jobs, and taking pay cuts because of Covid, and increasing pay right now for City employees is not appropriate. One suggested that pay raises be postponed 6 months and reevaluated then, based on what’s happening with Covid and the economy.

But City Administrator Laura Newman kept pushing incessantly, over and over, for that pay raise NOW (hers included, though she doesn’t say it). The aldermen that were holding out seemed to grow tired and wear down as the meeting passed 10:00pm. They settled on a compromise: cut $150,00 from the budget to cover the pay raises, give the 2.5% pay raises now, reevaluate the cut $150,000 in 6 months to maybe add it back.

Below is a chart of 5 top paid non-union employees (chart includes salary and health insurance, and $6000 car stipend in some cases; NOT included is pension contribution, which can be over $20,000!):

What do you think? Should the Council give them the pay raises? Wait 6 months? Freeze it for the year because they got raises in 2020 while privately employed people lost jobs and faced cuts in pay?

ALDERMEN NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU. If you say nothing, they interpret it as you have given them permission to vote as they want. Really they do.

Agenda with instructions how to attend the virtual meeting are here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12072020-1651?html=true

You can email the Aldermen and Mayor here (ASAP because the meeting starts 7:30pm): citycouncil@cityofbatavia.net

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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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