“You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

If you live in one of the unincorporated pockets of Batavia, the City is coming after you. For some, it could happen quickly; for others, it may take a while longer— but you will be annexed into the City of Batavia. The goal of the City is to get as many properties as it can by the 2020 census to increase their head count for government funding and property taxes.

If you don’t like it, there’s not much you can do; the law apparently gives them the right to force your compliance in certain circumstances. The issue of annexing unincorporated islands came up for discussion at the COW meeting on Jan. 8. (Agenda item is here. Video of the discussion is here on BATV, starting around 2 min.)

If you prefer your independence (and well and septic and lower taxes), you may be able to strike a deal regarding the terms of your annexation (some of it depends on whether or not you have some sort of utility or annexation agreement in place). Whatever you do, if at all possible, don’t agree to switch to the City’s electricity, or you’ll be stuck like the rest of us with crazy high electric bills, for the next 15+ years (see our page on Prairie State).  And because of the new wastewater treatment plant that’s being built, don’t be surprised if your initial water and sewer rates increase over the next several years. If you get concessions, be sure you understand the terms and get it in writing.

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New Year, Same Old Story

Your taxes are going up.

The School Board, as usual, increased their property tax levy the maximum amount. Enrollment is declining but taxes keep going up.

The City Council increased taxes as well. The gasoline tax increased by 1 cent, to 5 cents/gallon, water rate increased by 3%, sewer rate increased by 4%, and the property tax levy will increase but the rate will remain the same. Some on the Council would have you believe that the same property tax rate means your property taxes aren’t going up, but if you look at your property assessment, if you are in the large majority of Batavia property owners, your assessed value went up, meaning your property taxes will go up even though the rate is the same.

The votes on the budget and levy were split 8-5, with Salvati, Callahan, Meitzler, Uher, and Russotto voting against. Concerns about the budget, including the pension burden of the new positions being hired, tax increases exceeding residents’ income increases, and the need for better long term planning, led the 5 to vote “No”. Our thanks to these 5 Aldermen.

With 4 of the 8 “Yes” votes in contested seats in the upcoming Consolidated Elections April 2, 2019, the future burden of the City on taxpayers could hinge on those election results. The wards with contested elections are 2, 4, 4 (unexpired term), and 5.

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Propositions Explained

There are 3 propositions on the Nov. 6 ballot for most residents of Batavia. In a nutshell, they are as follows:

(CITY OF BATAVIA) This is a BINDING referendum. The City of Batavia became a Home Rule unit in 2009 when its population hit 25,000. The ballot question asks, “Shall the City of Batavia cease to be a Home Rule unit?”

Home Rule gives the City Council virtually UNLIMITED POWER TO TAX, REGULATE, AND INCUR DEBT. With Home Rule, the state takes away the power of citizens to put property tax increases, bonds, and other issues to referendum, and concentrates power in the City Council. Below is a brief summary of powers without and with Home Rule. Please visit our Home Rule pages for further information.

Without Home Rule With Home Rule
Property tax increases Capped at lesser of cost of inflation or 5% No caps
New taxes Limited by the state Few limits
General Obligation Bonds Can be put to binding referendum No referendum needed
Regulations/licensing  Limited by the state Few limits

Vote YES

Vote NO

Vote YES to END Home Rule

Vote NO to KEEP Home Rule

 

(BATAVIA LIBRARY) This is a BINDING referendum. The bonded debt that was used to build the library has been repaid, so taxpayers are due to get a reduction in their taxes. The Library is asking voters to add the money they had been paying for the bonds to their property taxes permanently, for library operations and building maintenance.

Vote YES to add the bond payment amount to your taxes permanently

Vote NO if you want to see your taxes decrease by the bond payment amount

 

(KANE COUNTY) This is an ADVISORY referendum only. There has been talk of the state imposing a 1% property tax (on market value) to pay for unfunded state pensions. The County is asking if they should oppose such a tax.

Vote YES if you DON’T want an additional 1% property tax

Vote NO if you DO want an additional 1% property tax.

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Home Rule Forum

A video of the League of Women Voters forum on Home Rule is available from BATV here.

The moderator from the non-partisan Citizens Advocacy Center did a nice job laying out the facts of home rule.

Please be sure to visit our pages with home rule information here and Common Questions here.

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Big City Salary Increase?

Update: This item was removed from the agenda at the meeting.

On the City Council agenda tonight is a salary increase for City Administrator Laura Newman. It was originally scheduled for discussion at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting, but pulled from the agenda to be put on tonight’s closed session agenda with vote following. (Contract negotiation is legitimate reason for closed session.)

Ms. Newman began employment July 2016, at base salary $165,000 (plus all the benefits of full time City non-union employees). The matter being discussed tonight would raise her base salary to $178,425, RETROACTIVE to Jan. 1, 2018, plus 1 more week of vacation (to 4 weeks).

It will be interesting to see if this goes through in light of the referendum and the dire predictions of the City.

Agenda item here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/12806?fileID=9090

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Home Rule Information Presentation

MARK YOUR CALENDARS for Monday, Sep. 17, 7pm, Batavia Library. Jim Tobin, economist and President of Taxpayers United of America will give a presentation on how Home Rule affects taxpayers. Mr. Tobin has spent decades fighting home rule throughout Illinois, calling it, “the most insidious form of government in America”. His presentation will be followed by a Questions and Answers section. Bring any questions you might have.

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Referendum voting info

The Home Rule Referendum is indeed on the ballot for Nov. 6. Early, early voting starts Sep. 27, and plain old early voting starts Oct. 22. You can also vote by mail if you request it (and if you trust the Post Office to get it where it needs to go). All information relating to how, when, and where to vote can be found at the Kane CountyClerk’s website: http://www.kanecountyclerk.org/Elections/Pages/Vote.aspx

What it boils down to: Home Rule is all about money and power, and who controls the power. With home rule, the City Council controls the power; without home rule, the Voters do. In either case, home rule or not, the taxpayer always pays.

We’ve been adding to our website’s “Common Questions” page in the Home Rule drop down menu. If you have any questions you would like to see answered, please send them through the “Contact Us” page.

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Petitions filed!

1195 signatures on referendum petitions were filed today at 1:33pm at City Hall. The minimum necessary valid signatures is 764.

Thank you to all who helped in the effort! We couldn’t have met our goal without you .

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REFERENDUM ON HOME RULE

WE NEED YOUR HELP! We need 1200 signatures to place a referendum on the ballot to give citizens a choice on whether or not the City of Batavia should remain a HOME RULE community. (The first time we tried, we fell short on signatures.) To those who helped before, would you please help again? And we need many more new volunteers to help us meet our goal.

The question would appear on the November 6, 2018 ballot. Petitions must be filed August 6. That gives us a month to collect signatures, the goal being 1200 to survive a challenge (minimum 764). We fully expect former City Administrator Bill McGrath to challenge the petitions again, so detailed instructions are included with the petition to make every signature count. There is a convenient “Get Petition” button at right.

What is “home rule” and why should you care? Please click on the new “home rule” tab at the top of this website, under the header, for more information. If you haven’t heard of home rule before, it’s a good time to get acquainted with it.  (There’s also a 2nd page with common questions in the drop down menu under the “home rule” tab that can be added to as questions arise.)

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City to Pay for Soil Contamination?

Mark Foster, writing for the Kane County Chronicle June 27, 2018, “Batavia works on soil cleanup plan to ready for Shodeen project,” writes:

The city staff of Batavia is formulating a plan to clean up the One Washington Place downtown redevelopment site, which is contaminated by lead….

“We’re still hoping for a groundbreaking this fall,” Batavia economic development consultant Chris Aiston said.

Soil borings conducted in April revealed that lead concentrations exceeding acceptable limits are present on the north side of the site along State Street under the existing city parking garage and up the hill to the east.

A subsequent report from Oak Brook-based environmental engineering firm Huff & Huff estimated that about 10,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil filling hundreds of dump trucks will need to be removed from the site.

Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm said the city intends to combine into a single contract both the soil remediation and the remaining demolition work for the site, including razing the existing two-level parking garage.

The city expects to seek bids in mid-July before awarding the contract, with work anticipated to get underway the following month, Holm said….

Previous cost estimates for the soil removal, hauling and waste facility tipping fees have ranged from $350,000 to $1 million.

Aiston said all the demolition and soil remediation costs will be reimbursed from the tax-increment financing district that the city created specifically for the project.

How did the City, i.e., taxpayers, end up assuming the cost of cleaning up the soil contamination for the Shodeen project? There was no item on a City Council or COW agenda that addressed the issue.

And not only is there NO MONEY to pay for it in the TIF District that the project is in (TIF 5), because there are no buildings to generate revenue, but TIF 5 is already millions of dollars in debt to TIFs 1 & 3 that have loaned it money THAT THEY DON’T HAVE, going into debt for property purchases and other costs related to the Shodeen project. So if TIF 5 has no money, and TIFs 1 & 3 have no money, where is the money coming from to pay these costs?

Furthermore, TIF 5 will not begin to generate tax income until the apartments project is built. Even then, the taxes will go first to paying off the $16 million General Obligation bonds–for 20 years. Will there be enough to pay the bonds? We don’t know. No one knows. The aldermen won’t even guess at what the interest or payments might be. If it falls short, Shodeen is supposed to pay more taxes to meet the bond payments. But he has no obligation to pay the loans from the TIFs.

So who exactly is paying for the soil contamination remediation?

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