Mayor Krajewski called the Workshop meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Village Hall.
Present:Mayor Brian Krajewski; Commissioners Marilyn Schnell, Thomas Sisul, Michael Gilbert, Sue McConnell (arr. 6:42 p.m.), Martin Tully, Mark Zabloudil; Village Manager Riccardo Ginex; Village Attorney Enza Petrarca; Village Clerk April Holden
Absent:Commissioner Marilyn Schnell
Visitors: Press: Colt Foutz, The Sun; Kevin Stahr, Downers Grove Reporter Residents & Others in Attendance : Robert Bair, Robert Bair Plumbing, 447 Rogers; Dave Tatterson, 1240 Gilbert; Andrew Clark, 1226 62nd St.; Christine Fregeau, 1918 Elmore; Tim McJoynt, 1131 Warren; Skyler King, Hinsdale Central High School; Mike Kubes, 5538 Lyman; Ron Sandack, 4833 Linscott; Steve Wiercioch, WXR & Assoc.; Attorney George Johnson, 1303 Ogden; Attorney Margaret Fahrenbach, 7630 S. County Line, Burr Ridge Staff: Mary Scalzetti, Director, Tourism and Events; Jack Bajor, Director, Public Works; Dorin Fera, Village Traffic Engineer; Brian Pabst, Deputy Village Manager for Operations; Bob Schiller, Director of Operations, Public Works; Ken Rathje, Director, Planning Services; Amanda Browne, Planner; Dave Van Vooren, Deputy Village Manager for Administration; Mike Baker, Assistant to the Village Manager; Trisha Steele, Acting Director, Financial Services
Mayor Krajewski explained that Council Workshop meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are video taped live and for later cable cast over cable channel 6.
The Workshop meeting is intended to provide Council and the public with an appropriate forum for informal discussion of any items intended for future Council consideration or just for general information. No formal action is taken at Workshop meetings.
The public is invited to attend and encouraged to comment or ask questions in an informal manner on any of the items being discussed or on any other subject. The agenda is created to provide a guideline for discussion.
Heritage Festival Ordinance/Rules & Regulations. Manager Ginex said Heritage Festival will be held June 27-29, 2003, with a ride preview night on June 26, 2003.
Commissioner Gilbert asked if there were any changes in this document from last year.
Mary Scalzetti , Director, Tourism and Events Commission, said there was a major change on page 5, Section 5 regarding violations. There were problems in the past with people walking around and selling merchandise rather than selling from their booth space.
Commissioner Gilbert asked the attorney if this controls handouts of literature.
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said it does, to a degree. They have to be careful in terms of the First Amendment issue. Ms. Scalzetti said the change would be reflected in the rules and regulations as well.
Plan Commission File 1051: Recommendation regarding a vacation of a portion of the Douglas Avenue Right-of-Way. The Manager asked Ken Rathje to address this matter.
Ken Rathje , Director, Planning Services, said the Plan Commission has recommended vacating this section of Douglas Road, south of Rogers and north of Maple. He described the size of the property and said it has an M-1 zoning designation. There is a recommendation for a blanket utility easement for the entire right-of-way. He noted that none of the right-of-way would be needed for grade separation for railway purposes. It has been used essentially as a parking access area for the adjoining businesses for some time.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked why this issue has surfaced at this time. Mr. Rathje responded that each lot is a corner lot, and in the M-1 zoning district there is a 35’ front yard setback obligation. The two properties are legally nonconforming. The property at 447 Rogers would be unable to do any modification to their building. By vacating this property it becomes a side lot line between the two property owners, thereby lifting a significant zoning obligation. He said the use of the property will remain the same and gives the owners greater flexibility.
The Mayor asked whether there were plans to expand.
Bob Bair , Bair Plumbing, said the space is used for parking, although legally they should not use that site. He would also like to move his fence out further as they need a secure space to park the trucks. There is no plan for an addition to the building, although they may construct a roof to cover the trucks.
Commissioner Tully said that from the research done, the Village currently does not think it would need a right-of-way for the railway grade separation. His concern is that vacating the property now might cause a problem ten years down the road if Metra decides it needs it at some point. He said they won’t know that until engineers designs are done. He asked whether there are alternative ways other than vacating the right-of-way to accommodate Mr. Bair’s needs, without giving away the property.
Mr. Rathje said that variations are a possibility up to a point. A front yard setback variation maximum would be a 50% reduction. A fence variation has more latitude if the owner can show unique circumstance and hardship. He said that staff spent a great deal of time and effort to determine whether any of this property was needed for underpass purposes. He said based upon the research, he believes they will not need this right-of-way. They can vacate all but a portion of the southerly end, and then vacate the remainder after the underpass engineering is completed. He said that the engineering was done by TKDA engineering, which is an outside firm.
The Mayor noted that along Belmont Burlington Northern and Metra spent two years researching and then at the last moment had to add in a piece of property that they never indicated would be needed.
Commissioner Tully said the need may be for something ancillary to the grade separation. He doesn’t want to give up the property and have to try to reclaim it in ten years at substantial cost.
Commissioner Sisul said he has seen plans change on projects as well, particularly in the current situation along Belmont. He said there may be a possibility that they might look at a turning area in this location. He suggested working out a lease arrangement with the two parties to obtain full use without conveying the property outright. This is in an area that will be undergoing a lot of reconfiguration.
Commissioner Gilbert said that the rear of the property has a substantial grade differential that would need a retaining wall, and the other side is true residential area abutting a commercial area. He said that it doesn’t seem to make sense as a through street. He said they may decide to eliminate the stretch of Maple between Fairview and Maple. He said this is a case for a vacation of a right-of-way.
Commissioner Sisul said if they are looking at an underpass, Maple Avenue would be lowered and put on the level of Douglas. He said that there is a substantial amount of traffic there, and it is one of the most dangerous intersections in the County.
Mayor Krajewski asked if the Burlington Northern has studied Maple Avenue for an overpass or underpass. Mr. Rathje said it was an underpass.
Commissioner McConnell suggested finding creative ideas to meet the needs of the owners while maintaining some flexibility.
Commissioner Tully said that the point is not that this will be used for an underpass, but that they do not know if or even how it will be used. He said he would not want the Village to be in a position where some time down the road they will have to buy the property back.
Mr. Rathje said he would have the petitioner meet with the Planning staff and the Legal Department.
The Mayor said if all they want to do is install a fence and park the cars, he believes that could be arranged. He said that the Manager provided documentation on vacating right-of-ways and previous policies. They should also look at the potential for a fee structure for vacations. Mr. Rathje said the issue of compensation at fair market value and discounts dependent upon the number of easements was discussed some time ago.
Mr. Bair said he would be happy to work out an arrangement with the Village where he doesn’t own the property but has the opportunity to use it legally. He mentioned that if there is an underpass installed, St. Joseph’s Creek is right at that location. The Mayor said that Burlington Northern is fully aware of the existence of the Creek. Mr. Bair said all he wants to do is move his fencing and be able to park there legally. He and the neighbor have maintained that property.
Plan Commission File 1082: Recommendation regarding a lot split with a lot depth exception for one of the proposed lots. Manager Ginex asked Amanda Browne to address this matter.
Amanda Browne , Village Planner, said the Plan Commission recommended this lot split on property owned by the Downers Grove Community Church. The westerly portion of the property is currently undeveloped, and they are proposing to divide that area. They are requesting a lot depth exception from the required 140’ to a lot depth ranging from 131.79’ to 131.98’. The Commission made an unanimous recommendation for the lot split requested.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked about ownership of the parcel directly south of the property. Ms. Browne said that all of the property is owned by the Church.
Commissioner Tully asked if there was an accompanying request to change the zoning, and Ms. Browne said there was not. The underlying zoning is R-1 single-family residential. She said that the lot could only support one principal structure.
Parking & Traffic Commission Recommendation re: File 21-02 Regulatory Control at the intersection of Linscott Avenue and Franklin Street. The Manager said that the Parking and Traffic Commission (P&T) recommended the installation of Yield Signs at the northwest and southeast corner of this intersection.
Commissioner Tully asked about staff follow-up regarding more accurate pedestrian counts as noted in the P&T minutes.
Dorin Fera , Traffic Manager, responded that the residents said there is a lot of pedestrian traffic during the spring and summer months; however, vehicle counts do not support a traffic control device. Staff will conduct additional counts during the heavier traffic periods. The P&T Commission also requested that staff discuss a more restrictive fence with the Park District. Staff has sent a letter to that effect to the Park District.
Tax Levy. The Manager asked Dave Van Vooren to make this presentation.
Dave Van Vooren , Deputy Village Manager for Administration, referred to the memorandum distributed in the Council’s packet concerning the 2002 tax levy to be collected in 2003. The purpose of the memorandum is to prepare a Truth in Taxation Notice that has to be noticed 7-14 days prior to the public hearing if the intent is to raise taxes over 105%. Mr. Van Vooren said that the memorandum recommends publishing a notice on November 22 which would meet the time frame for a public hearing on the tax levy on December 3, with the adoption of the tax levy on December 17, 2002.
The Mayor said that whether they go 105% or less, there will be a public hearing. He also noted that there have been some minor changes from what is on line.
Mr. Van Vooren and the Budget Team then made a presentation of information as prepared in the document prepared entitled, 2002 Tax Levy and Revenue Discussion, Village Council Workshop, November 12, 2002. Mr. Van Vooren explained the revenue estimates. He said the 2002/03 revenue estimate is $2 million below the amended projection. He explained that the information provided is a general overview of the Village’s status. He noted that the majority of revenues come from sales tax. He said 9.5% of the general fund revenues come from income tax. He reviewed the service obligations in 2003/04 including employee salary increases, vehicle replacement, CAD components, refunding the Darien Woodridge Fire Protection District, planning for municipal facilities and the Village share of the COPS grant. The 2002 EAV of the Village is $1.6 billion. He explained that the Village tax levy includes the corporate/police levy, fire protection, police and fire pension levies, debt service, Library levy, and SSA levies. He explained the 2001 levy and said the total levy was $4,342,000. All except the police and fire pension amounts go to the general fund.
The Mayor asked why there are two separate funds for the police and fire funds. Mr. Van Vooren said there is a tax levy limitation by State Statute. The Mayor asked why they are not the same amounts. Mr. Van Vooren said he thought in the past they were set up to support each of the departments’ separate operations.
Mr. Van Vooren then reviewed the scenarios that were presented to the Village Council to outline the options available in setting the 2002 Village Tax Levy. The first scenario of maintaining a constant dollar amount would generate no additional revenue to meet the general fund service obligations. Scenario II would maintain a constant tax rate and would generate an additional $203,666 in revenue to meet the general fund service obligations. Scenario III is to increase the corporate/police and fire protection tax rates by $0.02, which would generate an additional $852,527 in revenue to meet the general fund service obligations. Scenario IV relates to a $0.04 increase in the tax rate generating an additional $1.5 million in revenue to meet the general fund service obligations. He then reviewed how those scenarios affect the homeowners. For a home with a market value of $315,000 in 2002 the tax bill would increase from $288 to $289 under Scenario I; $288 to $301 under Scenario II; $288 to $344 under Scenario III ; and $288 to $386 under Scenario IV.
Mr. Van Vooren described potential alternative sources of revenue including 1) home rule sales tax; 2) utility and hotel tax increases; 3) implement a vehicle sticker program; 4) institute a real estate transfer tax; 5) increase the local gas tax; 6) institute a food and beverage tax; 7) implement a stormwater utility fee. Mr. Van Vooren said $.0025 sales tax would generate $1,880,741 in additional revenue. The real estate transfer tax would require passage by referendum.
Concerning how to proceed on the Truth in Taxation Notice, Mr. Van Vooren said that it can be published for as high a level as the Village wants, and can go down from the amount noted in the published notice. The budget team needs a decision by the Council as to how it intends to proceed. He suggested publishing a notice providing the cap and working backwards based upon input at the public hearing. He said that last year the public hearing and ordinance adoption occurred on the same night. This year staff is asking for two weeks between the public hearing and ordinance adoption to provide additional time after the public hearing.
The Mayor said he thought Scenario I does not work this year. There are 300 more homes that have come into the Village that need to be serviced. Regarding Scenario II, the Mayor said it would keep the rate constant but is applied to a broader base and would yield about $200,000, half of which would go to the Woodridge/Darien Fire Protection District. He said that the problem is that the Village is only six months into its budget year. Mr. Van Vooren said the Village can abate it until the middle of February. The Mayor said in comparison to other communities, the property tax levy for the Village is extremely low. He said he doesn’t want to raise rates without other budget information. It appears to him that Scenario II is the best way to go.
Commissioner Gilbert said he also felt Scenario II makes most sense. He said he is not prepared at this time to decide which taxes should be lowered or raised; however, he sees no reason to raise property taxes whatsoever.
Commissioner McConnell said that based upon present estimates they are talking about a difference of $3.5 to $4 million if there are no cuts, and Mr. Van Vooren said that was correct. Under additional sources of revenue, she asked about the home rule sales tax and whether the $1.8 million was an annualized rate. Mr. Van Vooren said that was correct. A home rule sales tax would start in July 2003. Mr. Van Vooren said that the local tax gas brings in $200,000 towards the Fairview bonds.
Commissioner Tully said he favors Scenario II as well and is not in favor of entertaining an increase in the property taxes. He is not convinced that they cannot come up with the necessary funds by increasing taxes on a user basis and alternative revenue sources. He said he would like to review other possible revenue sources as well.
Commissioner McConnell said she does not want to increase the property taxes either and would prefer to work with Scenario II. She noted she would also like to look at taxes on a user basis.
The Manager said that Commissioner Schnell indicated to him that she is not in favor of increasing taxes. She has not reviewed the scenarios, however.
Commissioner Tully said that he thought the scenarios outlining the alternative sources of revenue could be expanded tremendously with a variety of different options and an estimate of potential revenue. He said that information could probably be obtained from surrounding community web sites.
Commissioner Zabloudil agreed with following scenario II and look at user-based taxes as well. He does not want to raise taxes across the board but would like to see whether user-based taxes are being applied successfully in surrounding communities.
Mr. Van Vooren then clarified that the Council wants to prepare the Truth in Taxation Notice based upon Scenario II. He said that in two weeks the staff will discuss revenue issues with the Council.
Hart’s Garage Relocation . The Manager said staff has negotiated with Mr. Hart regarding relocation of his business and has reached an agreement for the expenses. Mr. Hart has signed the agreement. The Village has agreed to pay Mr. Hart up to $315,000 in relocation expenses.
Commissioner McConnell clarified that this is the last of the reimbursements for this particular business, and Attorney Petrarca said that was correct for Hart’s Garage. Commissioner McConnell asked if there is a final date that the space has to be vacated, and Attorney Petrarca said it is in the previous agreement.
Commissioner Tully noted two minor changes to the draft agreement. He complimented staff on doing an outstanding job on the negotiation.
The Mayor echoed the compliments to staff. The intent was to enable Mr. Hart to get his business up and running as quickly as possible. He noted that some of the figures are based upon actual receipts.
Commissioner Sisul said that this was very difficult on staff and on Mr. Hart. He thanked Mr. McJoynt for his work on this matter as well.
STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS
Public Services Committee
Commissioner Tully said that the Committee will meet on November 26 to discuss budget recommendations regarding stormwater issues.
Public Safety Committee
Commissioner Sisul said the Public Safety will meet tomorrow morning at 8:00 in the Public Works Facility Training Room. They will discuss the sprinkler ordinance and the open burning issue.
Commissioner Zabloudil said that the Finance Committee did not meet.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Attorney Petrarca presented four items to the Council: 1) An ordinance regarding the 2003 Heritage Festival; 2) An ordinance approving a lot split with an exception with regard to lot depth for the property commonly known as 6600 Fairview Avenue and 403 66th Street; 3) An ordinance amending traffic provisions at the intersection of Linscott Avenue and Franklin Street; and 4) A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and Tim Hart (Hart’s Garage Relocation Assistance).
The Mayor congratulated the Downers Grove South Girls Volleyball Team for winning the Supersectionals, and will go to the State Tournament in Bloomington this weekend.
He also wished Downers Grove South good luck in their competition with Lockport.
Commissioner Gilbert complimented staff on the tax levy presentation.
Commissioner Sisul reminded everyone of the Wine Auction, run by the Downers Grove Noon Lions Club, at 7:00 p.m. Friday at Avery Coonley School.
Commissioner McConnell also extended her invitation to the public to attend the Wine Auction.
Commissioner Tully echoed the Mayor’s comments to the Downers Grove South Girls Volleyball team. He said that their coach is a graduate of South High School. He also reminded everyone about the 2nd Annual 911 Walkathon on Sunday, November 17 at Downers Grove North High School from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Contributions will go toward local charities including the DuPage Care and Counseling Center, the DuPage Children’s Center for the Abused, and the Infant Care Project for the Babies of 911.
There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 8:00 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk tmh