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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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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Council Caves to Garbage, not to Citizens

The Council voted 7-7 on the massive Shodeen apartments project at 1 N. Washington, with Mayor Schielke breaking the tie again to approve the project.

On another topic, there was very interesting conversation at Council. Also on the agenda had been a waste hauling contract. It appeared a cut-and-dried vote from last week’s COW, with a contract being awarded to the lowest proposal. HOWEVER, some aldermen changed votes and awarded the garbage hauling contract to Advanced Disposal, BECAUSE OF THE HEAVY LOBBYING EFFORT BY ADVANCED DISPOSAL AND CITIZENS PUSHED TO LOBBY BY ADVANCED, despite that Lakeshore Recycling had a lower priced proposal. They said they heard overwhelmingly that citizens wanted to keep Advanced Disposal, never mind the cost.

One alderman pointed out it will be hypocritical to say citizen voices matter here, but will not matter when the Shodeen project comes up next.

Alderman Stark said that lobbying works when it’s what she already thinks. So because she already favored Advanced, people emailing her in support mattered, but those against Shodeen’s project don’t matter, because she doesn’t already agree with them. Her honesty is appreciated.

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Shodeen Apartments at Council Tonight

Tonight, Monday, 5/21, 7:30pm, the Batavia City Council is set to approve the zoning changes for the massive Shodeen apartment complex proposal. They approved it at the Committee of the Whole last Tuesday, by a vote of 7-6 (1 likely NO vote absent). In any case, the Mayor is for this, so in the event of a tie, he pushes it through.

You can still contact the Council or go to the meeting to voice your opinion, not because it will do any good (the 7 + Mayor in favor think they know what’s best and you don’t), but because you can say you made an effort to inform those who represent you how you want them to vote. If you’re silent, you give passive assent to however they wish to vote. You may use the contact button at right.

The soil contamination may still kill the project, but the zoning is one of the last items for vote before construction can begin.

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Shodeen Apartments Tuesday

Update:  The COW passed the zoning changes 7-6 (1 previous NO vote absent). However, soil contamination has been found at the site. Lead and “odor of petroleum” were mentioned. The contamination is thought to be expensive to remediate. The City must sit down with Shodeen to discuss it. There is the potential it could kill the deal.

The massive Shodeen apartment complex is on Tuesday’s (5/15) City Council Committee of the Whole (COW) agenda, 7pm.

The Plan Commission approved the changes, so now it’s going to the Tuesday night COW for discussion and preliminary vote before it goes to a Monday night Council for final approval. Agenda here: https://www.cityofbatavia.net/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_05152018-1198?html=true

The Plan Commission was given very limited scope to consider. They could not talk about the size or the traffic or pretty much anything but colors and materials, because the Council said so. The Plan Commission recommended citizens take their comments and concerns to the Council.

So Tuesday will be your chance to speak up. What started out as a 13-1 vote of the Council in favor of the project, became a 7-7 vote with the Mayor’s YES vote breaking the tie to push the project forward when the plan was changed, with apartments instead of retail at ground level on Wilson. If you can convince 1 more Alderman or the Mayor that this is a bad idea, not suited for downtown, then maybe the door could be opened for other ideas from other developers.

An interesting additional item on the agenda is discussion of parking configuration on State Street for this project. Apparently, keeping parking similar to as it is could cause problems, so the recommendation is to remove the parallel parking on the south side of the street, leaving even less parking downtown.

If you can’t make the meeting, you can email the aldermen and Mayor using the Contact button at right.

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