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, Sue McConnell, Martin Tully, Ron Sandack, Stan Urban, William Waldack; Deputy Village Manager Dave Fieldman; Assistant Village Manager Mike Baker; Village Attorney Enza Petrarca; Village Clerk April Holden
Visitors: Press: Kevin Stahr, Downers Grove Reporter; Lyn Niemann, Chicago Tribune Residents: Geoff Neustadt, 4637 Saratoga; Andrew Clark, 1226 62nd Street; Christine Fregeau, 1918 Elmore; John Schofield, 1125 Jefferson; M.G. Busse, Community Bank of Downers Grove, 5472 Bending Oaks; Brett R. Webster, 4928 Washington; Mark Griesbaum, 6012 Ridgewood Circle; Terry Quandt, 5425 Fairmount; John Volmer, 555 Hill ; Susan and John Luka, 5618 Brookbank; Erica Gomez, Wheaton; Charlie Reed, 5825 Washington; Daniel McCormick, 1912 Curtiss; George Nicholaou, 4845 Highland; Tohurs Alcon, 4708 Douglas; Keith Garstecki, U.S. Bank; Jane Amorosi, 5742 Dearborn Parkway; Amy Conderman, 6841 Dunham Road Staff: Mike Millette, Assistant Director, Public Works; Stan Balicki, Assistant Director Public Works; Keith Sbiral, Director Planning & Community Development; Kirsten von der Heide, Village Forester; Doug Kozlowski, Director, Media & Marketing; Rita Trainor, Finance Director; Rita Rutkowski, Accounting Supervisor
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.
Consent Agenda Items
Bank Services Agreement for 2006-2008. Deputy Village Manager Dave Fieldman said staff has taken the initiative to go out for bid on banking services. Downers Grove National Bank has had the Village’s accounts since 1996. Staff has sent the RFP to 14 banking institutions in the Village, and six responded. The budgeted amount for this service is $57,000 with a low bid of $46,120 by U.S. Bank. In addition, proposals have been put out for bid for pension banking services. Staff recommends approval of an agreement with U.S. Bank for three years.
The Mayor asked about Hinsbrook, which did not include credit card processing, and how it compares to other bids. Mr. Fieldman said he would obtain a summary with the comparisons. The Mayor then asked if it is more competitive as far as credit card processing to open it up to all vendors rather than just banks. Mr. Fieldman said he was unsure, but the Finance Manager might have that information. Mayor Krajewski then expressed some concern about the local banks involvement in the community, as the former bank did a lot in the community.
Finance Director Rita Trainor said some consideration was given to community services. As for credit cards, there can be savings; however, with the current financial software, they cannot have a different provider than the bank account. The Mayor recommended looking at a shorter agreement if a new software system is under consideration. She said she would look at the details of the evaluations of the bids.
Mr. Fieldman said that all respondents had third party processing fees of $11,000 annually for credit cards.
Mayor Krajewski asked if the U.S. Bank lockbox fee was $3,000 higher, and Ms. Trainor said it was higher. The bank was asked to match the low bid.
Commissioner Sandack asked who has control over the Police and Fire Pension funds. Ms. Trainor said it is her responsibility as Treasurer. However, she would prefer that the Board make the decisions. Commissioner Sandack said bundling the financial services enables the Village to obtain the best benefit possible.
Commissioner Schnell said she has a concern that between the U.S. Bank and the Community Bank of Downers Grove, they are not talking a lot of money over a three-year period of time. She asked whether Community Bank could match the lockbox services of the low bidder. Mr. Fieldman said they did not ask them all to match it. The logic was that U.S. Bank was the low bidder even with their higher lockbox services. There was also an issue with the lockbox services of the low bidder being located out of state. They checked with the Legal Department for appropriateness to ask the low bidder to match the bid and keep it in the Village. Commissioner Schnell said U.S. Bank is in Milwaukee. Ms. Trainor said the second low cost bidder is in Carol Stream. Commissioner Schnell said Milwaukee is further than Carol Stream, is not in Illinois, and is not local.
Ms. Trainor said the Finance Committee discussed this issue, and the consensus was that it seemed appropriate to evaluate it on the services provided, as well as the assurances that U.S. Bank gave that the multitude of daily pickups would eliminate any problem with serviceability. In addition, wording in the agreement gives the Village the opportunity to opt out of that portion of the agreement if the collections were suffering.
Commissioner Schnell said that she has a problem with that segment of the agreement. Ms. Trainor explained that a separate bank would require additional wire transfer fees, which would not occur if everything is with the same bank. She indicated that the Legal Department has assured staff that the Village has the opportunity to get out of the contract if necessary.
Commissioner Schnell said that she would like the Village to look at local entities in the future. The amount of difference in cost between Milwaukee and Carol Stream is not that great, and there is a difference in presence in the banks that are represented. She believes they need to look at involvement and the situation in the community. Ms. Trainor said there is a representative present from U.S. Bank who informed her of things that have been done by their bank for the community.
Keith Garstecki , U.S. Bank, said that their bank is part of the Heritage Festival as a participant and allows use of their facilities by shutting down their drive through during the Festival. In addition, their 63rd Street Branch Manager teaches a Banking 101 class at South High School for the disabled students. Mr. Garstecki said many employees are active in the community and are involved in Habitat for Humanity. They sponsored a week-long build at four different sites in the Chicago area. In addition, a Downers Grove resident who survived an automobile accident was sponsored by the Bank in a race at Midwestern University.
Ms. Trainor said the services are not bundled at this time because their current bank does not have a lock box system. They’ve bid on the lockbox by using a third party bank. In regard to water billing, residents will be mailing their payments to Milwaukee. The Mayor said he is concerned about the extra day due to mailing payments. Ms. Trainor said that this has been explained to U.S. Bank. Mayor Krajewski asked whether residents can be allowed one or two extra days for payment, and Ms. Trainor said that staff currently gets envelopes with a postmark date, and they will record those postmark dates for payment before collection letters are sent out.
Commissioner McConnell said she assumes that the Finance Committee is in concurrence with the recommendation.
Commissioner Tully said the Committee did discuss this matter and many of these issues were considered. Assurances were made by U.S. Bank that there will be no delays. The Committee suggested language be included in the contract to address this.
Commissioner McConnell said it also appears that it is staff’s and the Committee’s recommendation that U.S. Bank can meet the needs of the Village. Commissioner Tully said in the context of the RFP , they believe the low bidder can meet the requirements of the RFP .
Commissioner McConnell asked whether the low bidder has positive references, and Mr. Fieldman said they do. Commissioner McConnell then said that the Council needs to be cautious about the parameters they are using to make their decisions. She applauds the institution’s willingness to be part of the community, but said that they also must look at the qualifications as well as the cost to taxpayers.
Commissioner Urban asked when the present agreement ends. Ms. Trainor said it can be moved at any time. Commissioner Urban asked whether it is customary to go back to the low bidder in this situation, and Mr. Fieldman responded that staff approached this with a great deal of caution, discussing it with the Legal Department and acting on their advice. The request to match a lower bid did not affect the overall outcome or staff’s recommendation. U.S. Bank would still have been the recommendation of staff.
Commissioner Urban asked Council members whether this item could be removed from next week’s agenda until all questions are answered.
Commissioner Tully responded to the issue raised about a “difference in presence” by Commissioner Schnell. He said that there is a practice to award business locally whenever possible, all other things being equal. Regarding the issue of community presence, he said they could consider that as a factor in future RFPs, but doesn’t know how that would be done in terms of objectively measuring presence in the community qualitatively and quantitatively.
The Mayor asked whether the Village has had any problems with its current lockbox provider, and Ms. Trainor responded that it has not. As for the depository service, there have also been no problems. The Mayor asked if there is anything else that can be bundled, such as the upcoming refinancing note. Mr. Fieldman said that is an approach that other communities use. Mayor Krajewski asked whether any checks received here would be deposited at U.S. Bank on Main Street. Ms. Trainor said staff they would be.
Mike Busse , 5472 Bending Oaks Place, said he is President of the Community Bank of Downers Grove and noted that he appreciates the need to run the Village as a business. He runs his bank as a business. He pointed out that they take their role as a community bank very seriously and sometimes have to bend rules. Their competitor, U.S. Bank, is much bigger than Community Bank. He said that in their first year of operation, which wasn’t a full year, Community Bank contributed over $25,000 to various community events and organizations. This first full year will exceed that. A year ago he appeared before the Council and noted that there was a $10 million bond deal and asked for the opportunity to bid. That went to a New York based bank and he never had the opportunity to bid. Mr. Busse said that they are in the process of completing a new bank which will be a nice addition to downtown Downers Grove. On a continuing basis, any not-for-profit local organization who wants to use the bank will be able to do that. Their relationship will be on a non-fee basis. He suggested that the Council consider some of the more subtle aspects of a banking relationship.
The Mayor asked staff to remind him of issues unrelated to this with regards to Northern Trust.
Jane Amorosi , 5742 Dearborn Parkway, said that they cannot hear anything in the back row. The Mayor asked people to speak loudly.
Commissioner Tully said that local businesses should have an opportunity to bid. The Council tries to correct this when they are aware of it. He reiterated that some of the other issues are difficult. This is not to undercut the significant contribution of Community Bank and other banks to the Village. He is trying to determine how to measure the contributions in a qualitative and quantitative way that is consistent with the public process of open bidding as required in government.
The Mayor asked if there is a problem from a legal aspect with respect to the amounts bid by Bank One. Ms. Trainor said there is no problem.
Mr. Fieldman said if the Council is looking to splitting instead of bundling the services, he thinks it would be fair for staff to recommend Chase or Bank One for the lockbox services.
Parkway Tree Pruning Contract. Assistant Manager Mike Baker said staff recommends award of this contract to Kramer Tree Specialists in an amount of $118,219.60 for parkway tree pruning. He noted that the Village was forced to re-bid because the provider from the prior year opted not to extend the contract under the terms approved prior to their selection. Their reason was that the rise in fuel costs prohibited them from keeping to the amount in the contract. Mr. Baker said that $84,750 has been budgeted. Staff has looked at the items in the account and identified the Tree Escrow Account which would allow them to obtain the services at the amount presented by transferring funds into the tree pruning account.
Commissioner Schnell commented that at the Public Services Committee meeting an update on tree services was given. One of the points was that if the Village continues to undercut the tree services, they will ultimately end up paying at a higher level. She strongly urged the Council to support this given that staff has found the additional money. She asked the Village Forester to reiterate the cost of not maintaining tree services on a five-year schedule during the budget discussions. Mr. Baker said staff will make sure that this is brought up during the budget process.
Commissioner Tully asked where the funds will come from for the incremental amount. Mr. Baker responded that it would come from the services account, and would push the overall projected budget over the original amount by $18,400. Staff would make up the difference by taking that amount from the Tree Removal Escrow Account and redirecting it back to the Tree Services Account, which essentially would cover tree planting. In further response to Commissioner Tully Mr. Baker said that the $25,000 was originally dedicated for tree planting. The money would be used for tree planting services already approved by this Council. It will not take away from funds for the planting schedule for this year. Commissioner Tully noted that there was a cutback in tree pruning in previous years, and they should look at getting back on the five-year cycle.
Dr. Gordon Goodman , 5834 Middaugh, said he attended the Arborists’ Association Annual Meeting in Tinley Park, and their comments reinforced Commissioners Schnell’s and Tully’s remarks regarding the five-year cycle. It not only creates beauty and diminishes complaints, but also is a way to reduce the liability of the Village.
Active Agenda and Informational Items
Animal Impoundment Ordinance Amendment. Mr. Fieldman said the Council adopted an ordinance amending administrative fees for impounding animals on July 5, 2005. The amendment now before Council changes how the fees are applied. Under the current Ordinance, if a particular animal is impounded more than once in a six-month period, a fee of $100 per day is assessed for impounding. The proposed change is that if a particular owner of multiple pets has one or more of the pets impounded in a six-month period that $100 fee would apply to the owner. It is “owner specific” rather than “pet specific.”
Midwestern University Special Use. Community Development and Planning Director Keith Sbiral said that this special use concerns Midwestern University’s plan to construct a 12,000 square foot administrative office on the campus. He noted that representatives from the University are present. Village staff felt this was consistent with Special Use requirements.
Commissioner McConnell asked for clarification on the stormwater and wetlands issues.
Mike Millette , Assistant Director, Public Works, said he believes all of those issues have been resolved. The campus has extensive wetlands in place. Staff has worked with the consultants. He said this addition will impact the wetlands; however, they will enhance a larger wetland area than the area impacted. This is one of the better stormwater management plans staff has seen.
Commissioner Tully explained that this is a request to amend an existing special use for Midwestern University. The standards for reviewing an amendment to a special use were reviewed, and there are no issues raised from a Code perspective, and no signage is being proposed. He wished them luck with this latest expansion.
The Mayor asked about the Master Plan for stormwater for the area in which Midwestern University is located, since there has been so much development in that area, and Lyman Woods is undergoing a major maintenance project at this time. A lot of money has been expended to maintain and stabilize the streams, and if there is something the Village can do by looking at the overall area with a Master Plan, rather than looking at each individual project it should be considered. Mr. Millette said that staff will incorporate the comments made into the Master Plan.
Commissioner Tully thanked the University for reaching out to neighbors in this project.
Dr. Goodman, 5834 Middaugh, said as Chair of the Pierce Downers Heritage Alliance he is pleased with the philosophy of keeping their intensive use in the central portion of the campus to allow people the opportunity of walking from one major facility to another. He suggested that the PDHA be invited to the next meeting of neighbors. He then asked follow-up questions to a memorandum dated September 2 from Juli Crane which was included in the Village’s packet. Ms. Crane’s memo said that a sign off was still outstanding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and he has not found an update on that.
Mr. Millette said that updated plans have been received, and the letter was also received from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He would provide a copy of that to Dr. Goodman.
Parking & Traffic Items:
#20-05: Jefferson Avenue at Hillcrest Road – Stop Sign Control. Mr. Fieldman said this is adjacent to the Hillcrest School which has a lot of traffic activity. Staff recommends an all way stop control. Parking and Traffic reviewed this on September 14 and also recommends approval.
Dr. Goodman, 5834 Middaugh, said he lives a block from Hillcrest School. He supports making the signage permanent. He noticed that there was also mention that the bikeway plan was going to run through this intersection and asked for an update on this. Mr. Millette responded that all paths should be on the street. Comments were transmitted to the County and staff will follow up on this.
The Mayor then asked whether there will be bicycle symbols along Dunham Avenue between 67th and 71st. Mr. Millette said they are on back order.
#22-05: Main Street at Maple Avenue – Turn Restrictions. Mr. Fieldman said a resident brought this issue to the staff’s attention regarding pedestrian safety. No turn on red restrictions were placed on each leg of this intersection to address the problem, and Parking and Traffic reviewed this and recommends approval of this turn restriction.
The Mayor thanked the staff for acting on this so quickly.
#23-05: Dunham Road from 67th Street to 71st Street – No Parking Modifications. Mr. Fieldman said that there is on-street bike lane striping on both sides of the street, and the recommendation is to restrict parking along the west side of Dunham Road.
Commissioner Waldack asked how long the back order will take, and Mr. Millette said it should be this year. Commissioner Waldack said this is a good solution for the parking situation, and asked whether it would affect snow removal. Mr. Millette said it would not affect snow removal, as they will still plow the entire width of the road. He noted that this was Dorin Fera’s idea regarding the road striping.
Amy Conderman , 6841 Dunham Road, said she would like to see the signs changed to the same parking ban as exists north of 67th. In early 2005 “No Parking” signs appeared and the residents were not informed of the change. She said residents did not receive notice of this meeting. The Mayor said staff will look into this.
Luxury Motors Sales Tax Rebate Agreement. Mr. Fieldman said staff likes to bring win/win agreements to the Council. He said this win is not only for the Village and Luxury Motors, but also for the neighbors of Luxury Motors. Mr. Fieldman said Luxury Motors is important to the Village’s financial health. This agreement gives Luxury Motors the opportunity to expand by acquiring the Saab dealership as well as other parcels along Ogden Avenue. The agreement allows the Village to make sure Luxury Motors complies with all of the Village Codes. It allows the Village to withhold quarterly sales tax sharing payments, and they will forfeit the payment if they do not comply within the 90-day period. He said that the details were included in the Village’s packet. He reviewed the terms of the sales tax rebate agreement. He noted that this is a redevelopment agreement which allows the Village to decide from which fund to make payments.
Mayor Krajewski thanked staff for putting this agreement together, and asked if part of the redevelopment agreement allows the use of TIF funds. Mr. Fieldman said that the Village’s choice of funding sources is written into the agreement. The Mayor asked whether this can be an addendum to other existing agreements.
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she would look into this.
Mr. Fieldman said there are currently a few items which have not been completed on the Luxury Motors facility. Staff recommends that this not go into effect until they come into compliance with those items. He indicated that he hopes the issues will be addressed by the end of the year.
Commissioner Sandack said that Luxury is an important business in the Village. He said the Village is reliant on building a viable business corridor in an effort to keep real estate taxes down. He believes the agreement to be eminently fair, and complimented all involved in the preparation of this agreement.
Commissioner Schnell said that Luxury Motors is important, but it has been a thorn in the side of those who live nearby. She thanked staff for working toward a conclusion which she hopes will benefit the adjacent residents. She asked that off-loading of vehicles on Ogden Avenue be addressed if they intend to expand further. It is not a safe situation. Mr. Fieldman said staff expressed this concern to them. Staff understands that with the acquisition of the Saab dealership, they will be able to take more deliveries directly on their site.
Commissioner McConnell said the Village is pleased to have Luxury Motors in the Village and expanding. She said there was an agreement for a potential extension if they rebuild on existing property, and asked why that will benefit the Village. Mr. Fieldman said the first way to approach economic development is from a gap financing perspective, which is basically that this business would not be able to do the project without assistance. The other approach is the next best alternative approach which asks if the Village can provide an incentive that puts the Village in position to be equal to or slightly better than the next best alternative. This recommendation is the next best alternative. Dealerships such as this one are highly sought after and some other town could offer an incentive package. Therefore, an extension of the agreement is considered beneficial to Downers Grove.
Commissioner McConnell said she has heard about the off-loading on Ogden Avenue by Luxury Motors, as well as other car dealerships on Ogden Avenue. She believes they need to take an Ogden Avenue-wide approach to other ideas. They must have a way to bring deliveries in and out of their property. She also commented that she is disappointed that they had to put language in an agreement to enforce compliance with the rules. She hopes it will work. If they are not compliant, she asked if the check is forfeited if they do not comply within 90 days. Mr. Fieldman said it would be forfeited, and if there were more than one violation, each would be tracked independently. Commissioner McConnell also asked about the stormwater violation and its resolution. Mr. Fieldman said the Village notified Luxury Motors of the September deadline, which was missed. They have been cited for a violation and the issue is now in front of the court. He said that the acquisition of Saab should give them ways to comply with the requirements. The plans are in and under review by the Village, and the Village is attempting to respond within ten working days.
Commissioner Urban said he is proud to have Luxury Motors in the community and complimented staff for bringing a creative agreement to the table. He wanted clarification that the agreement will not come back to the Council until compliance is in place. Mr. Fieldman said that is staff’s intention. Commissioner Urban said he lives round the corner from the facility and is concerned about the crosswalk and employees crossing in the middle of the block. As to off-loading, it is a problem with other businesses as well.
The Mayor said that off-loading is an issue with many dealerships on Ogden. Part of the Master Plan potentially called for certain street closures. He asked whether the issue of people running back and forth will be addressed by this current plan, and Mr. Fieldman said it would.
Commissioner Waldack thanked staff for answering the questions he had before the meeting, and said he appreciates Luxury Motors in the Village. It is unfortunate to have to put in good neighbor clauses in the agreement. He then asked about using the TIF funds. Mr. Fieldman said that the Village has the option of using funds from either funding source, depending upon which is more advantageous. TIF funds are regulated in terms of what they can be used for, so to the extent possible, it behooves the Village to use TIF dollars for TIF -eligible expenses, to free up general fund sales tax dollars which pay for police and fire protection as well as day-to-day operations.
Dr. Goodman, 5834 Middaugh, said he wanted to reinforce the point made by Commissioner Urban regarding pedestrians crossing Ogden Avenue. It is a hazard. He’s pleased that Luxury Motors is here but he thinks it is important to figure out a means of providing safer crossing across Ogden Avenue. The only place that is safe to cross is where there is a traffic signal. He thinks part of the Ogden Avenue plan needs a better pedestrian safety program. It is quite hazardous to have pedestrians crossing Ogden Avenue.
Snow Response Plan. Mr. Fieldman said that changes have been made to the snow response plan in the last few years; however, there are no substantive changes this year.
Stan Balicki , Assistant Director, Public Works, said that last year the routes were reduced from twelve to ten. They plan to do the same thing this year, and they can double up as needed. The reduction gave the staff more flexibility to respond to the actual weather situation. He said they do not want to go back to 12 routes.
Commissioner Waldack commented on the cul-de- sacs and dead ends, and clarified that it appears that 18 hours after the event those areas will be cleared. People manage to get in and out before that amount of time. He said that when you wait that long, however, the snow is packed and the plows create concrete-like ice blocks. He asked if removing those ice blocks can be addressed in some way, since these residents are serviced last. Mr. Balicki said this is a level of service question. Snow removal is a matter of staffing and equipment availability. This would have to be addressed through the budget process as a level of service. The policy has a provision that if there is an inordinate amount of snow deposited in the driveway, the staff will come to help remove it. He doesn’t remember one request of that nature last year.
Commissioner Waldack said that this becomes a health issue for some of the seniors, and asked if this can be addressed in the budget process. Mr. Balicki responded that staff is working on initiatives which will be submitted to the budget team for review to increase the level of service in cul-de-sacs, commuter parking lots, etc.
Mayor Krajewski commented that there is no parking on the streets from 2:00-6:00 a.m., as it is one of the biggest concerns of staff. Their target is to have roadways, other than cul-de-sacs and dead-ends, cleared within 12 hours after the snow stops falling. He noted that snow clearing is based on priority roadways. There are 167 center-line-miles in the Village that have to be covered. He added that staff works two 12-hour shifts during snow-plowing periods. Mr. Balicki added that their presentation on the snow response plan will be on the Village’s website.
Dr. Goodman, 5834 Middaugh, said one source of concern in past years has been walking routes near schools, in particular snow piled up at corners. This is not addressed in the snow plan and he sees this as a serious omission. He wants to make sure that plowing does not make it more difficult for students walking to school. Mr. Balicki said that the object is to clear crosswalks when the snow exceeds 4”. He noted that Village supervisors work closely with the schools.
2005 Tax Levy Presentation. Mr. Baker provided a PowerPoint presentation on the Village’s 2005 aggregate tax levy showing three scenarios of the tax rate as compared to prior years. He said staff discussed the tax levy in a Council retreat several months back. They focused on controlling the tax burden for residents, and providing stable and diverse sources of revenue. He said the Truth in Taxation Notice will be published on November 25 in the Downers Grove Reporter. A public hearing will be held on December 6, with proposed adoption by the Council on December 20. Abatements must be made by the end of February 2006.
Mr. Baker said that general fund revenues for the current fiscal year are $41.2 million, 18% of which are property taxes. He said $5 million of the property tax funds are used for general operations with the remaining $2.4 million supporting the Police and Fire pension funds. He then reviewed the various levies. Regarding the Library Debt Service the Council has no authority to make adjustments to those rates. In comparing the Village’s rates to other taxing bodies, Mr. Baker said that the overall rate is $4.98/$100 Equalized Assessed Value (EAV). The Village’s portion is 8.8%, or $.44. To set the rate, they look at the projected growth in the EAV from information received from the Assessor’s office. The overall assessed valuation in the Village is slightly over $2 billion.
Mr. Baker presented various scenarios on the Corporate Police and Fire protection levies which directly support general operations. He noted that the Police and Fire Pension levies were provided by pension boards and remain constant across all scenarios, as does the rate which they expect will ultimately be applied for the debt service levy. They have anticipated probable abatements that will take place for certain debt service payments. He then outlined what actual taxes collected would be for each scenario. The effect on property with a market value of $300,000 would be between $413 and $430 for the Village portion dependent on which scenario is used.
The Mayor asked about the 7.9% EAV growth last year, which was basically residential growth rather than commercial. He asked if the actual number will be available by the time of the Public Hearing. Mr. Baker said they would not have that figure. Ms. Trainor said that the figure was estimated last year, because they do not get the figures until May. Mayor Krajewski asked if the abatements are based on estimated or actual figures, and Mr. Baker responded they are based on estimates. As to its comparison to actuals, Ms. Trainor said that the Village estimates were slightly lower.
Mayor Krajewski said he would like to see comparison figures of neighboring communities. He stated that he supports scenario #1. He said that the Library adopted a 4% increase. He also said he would like to see how the rates break down on the tax bill.
Commissioner Sandack said he is a reluctant proponent of raising the real estate tax levy, as it is the only source of stable revenue over which the Village has control. Previous Councils did not touch it for a long time even though costs were increasing. There have been increases in sales tax revenues which is good. He said it is nice to see proposals that will reduce taxes. He agrees with the general proposition that the Village has the right to change the rate each year as necessary. Commissioner Sandack said he approves of the options provided by staff, and would like to see the comparisons with other communities. He is considering scenarios #1 or 2.
The Mayor said that the “long time” referred to by Commissioner Sandack actually goes back to 1985 and it was a flat dollar amount.
Commissioner Schnell said that the Village had the luxury of doing that due to the efforts to solicit businesses to bring in sales tax revenues. She said that the recession created problems for the Village. The Village has a surplus this year in its sales tax revenue. She would have a hard time rationalizing an increase, and would prefer scenario #1. She asked that this information be put on Cable TV and the website, as well as information on the Public Hearing date. She asked that the slides be placed on the website as well.
Mayor Krajewski asked about the $1.8 million from Metra and whether that is in the parking fund. Mr. Baker said he would research this.
Commissioner McConnell said that staff has done a great job of managing expenses. She asked whether the Council will have projected expenses prior to adopting the levy, as well as the status of the reserves, since that will be helpful in making a final decision. In regard to the reserve, Mr. Baker said at the end of the prior fiscal year they were slightly under $1 million short of the cash reserve target.
Commissioner Urban thanked staff for the three scenarios as well, saying he is deciding between scenario #1 and 2. He asked staff to look at DuPage County as well as the surrounding communities.
The Mayor said that DuPage County’s recommendation is to increase the levy at the full level allowed by Statute.
Commissioner Tully asked Mr. Baker to put up a bar graph displayed earlier showing essentially a flat line in regard to property taxes levied vs. public service expenses for the period from 1984/05 to 2004/05, which he thinks is an amazing accomplishment. In terms of scenarios, he is leaning toward scenario #1. He said he received a notice of special assessment regarding an increase in his EAV which will result in a higher tax bill. He asked if this impacts this discussion. He noted that the property tax for the Village has been kept low through hard work. Home Rule communities have the ability to levy different types of taxes paid by non-residents, and it is important to maintain that flexibility. He noted that the ability to discuss scenarios where rates and levies are decreasing is also due to the direction provided by Council, implementation by staff, and to increasing efficiency. He said it is important to maintain efficiency. As for the surplus, it was budgeted and there are plans for the surplus funds. He is leaning toward a flat levy, it is just a question of how flat. He thanked staff for their presentation.
The Mayor asked for surplus figures for next week, and how the 7.5% affects special assessments. Mr. Baker said that the Council will levy the dollar amount. The Assessor will adjust the rate accordingly.
The Mayor suggested that the Council review the last Police Pension minutes which show how hiring of additional officers effects future pension costs.
Commissioner Waldack agrees to consider scenario #1 or 2, or something in between. He noted that they do not have the actual figures of expenses due to the Village’s fiscal year. He further noted that fixed incomes are actually dropping as health care costs increase.
Mayor Krajewski commented on the DuPage County portion of the bill which is approximately 3% of the total property tax bill, which will cost the average homeowner an increase of about $7.00 per year.
Dr. Goodman, 5834 Middaugh, commented on the special assessment which was 15.7% greater for him, and could be because of the mini-mansion adjacent to his property. He supported the consensus of holding the levy to the range of scenarios #1 and 2. He asked when the Village expects to make a decision on the termination of the Home Rule sales tax. The Mayor said he thought that would be addressed during the budget process. Mr. Baker said this will be brought to the Finance and Administrative Committee. The Mayor said it will start in January or February, and staff will make a budget calendar available.
Mr. Baker said that they will need to put a Motion on next week’s agenda for the tax levy.
STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Schnell said that Public Services will meet on November 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Commissioner McConnell said Public Safety will meet on November 22 to discuss overtime, promotion and downtown dialogue feedback.
Commissioner Tully said the Finance Committee will meet on November 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Mr. Fieldman said that the new Manager, Cara Pavlicek, arrives at the Village on Monday. As for development of the Curtiss Block, they are in the process of finalizing the financing/permitting, and are tracking on schedule.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she was presenting six items to the Council: 1) An ordinance amending animal impoundment provisions; 2) An ordinance authorizing an amendment to an existing special use to permit the construction of a fitness center and executive office building; 3) An ordinance establishing stop signs at Jefferson Avenue and Hillcrest road; 4) An ordinance amending turning restrictions at Main Street and Maple Avenue; 5) An ordinance regulating parking on Dunham Road; and 6) A resolution authorizing execution of a redevelopment and sales tax rebate agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and Luxury Motors, Inc.
Ms. Petrarca said she was also requesting that the Council consider waiving the one-week waiting period to consider a Resolution appointing members to Boards and Commissions.
Mayor Krajewski thanked the Management Team for their work during the interim, and welcomed Cara Pavlicek to the Village. He said that she has been participating with the Management Team over the last three to four weeks, and has taken part in conference calls with Commissioner Tully, the Management Team and the Mayor. She has also followed issues regarding the Boards and Commission appointments, and she e-mailed the Council asking them to focus on real Village business. She will work with the Council through a number of issues, and will schedule her first retreat with the Council sometime after Thanksgiving. She also asked that the Plan Commission be placed back on today’s agenda to allow them to move forward on some Village development issues.
Commissioner Tully moved to waive the traditional one-week waiting period to consider new business. Commissioner Urban seconded the Motion.
AYES :Commissioners Tully, Urban, Waldack, Sandack, McConnell, Schnell, Mayor Krajewski NAYS :None
The Motion to waive the waiting period passed.
A RESOLUTION REAPPOINTING MEMBERS TO THE PLAN COMMISSION
RESOLUTION 2005 -71
The Village Clerk read the Resolution reappointing all of the previous members of the Plan Commission as follows:
Alan Jirik reappointed as Chair for a term expiring 4/30/06 Mark Griesbaum, George Nicholaou, and Ronald Waechtler reappointed for terms expiring 4/30/08 Denise Rabatah, Daniel McCormick and Terrence Quant reappointed for terms expiring 4/30/07 J. Philip Matejczyk and Brett Webster reappointed for terms expiring 4/30/06
The Mayor apologized to all of the Plan Commission members and Board members who were caught up in the issues that the Council will be working hard to resolve with the assistance of the new Village Manager.
Commissioner Tully moved to adopt the Resolution as presented. Commissioner Urban seconded the Motion.
AYES :Commissioners Tully, Urban, Waldack, Sandack, McConnell, Schnell, Mayor Krajewski NAYS :None
The Motion passed.
Dan McCormick , 1918 Curtiss, said he has been a member of the Plan Commission for 10 ½ years. For the past two weeks he has felt like a pawn in some childish game, and after 10 ½ years on the Plan Commission he doesn’t need that feeling and doesn’t like that feeling. He was not looking for a pat on the hand or a pat on the shoulder. However, he did not expect a slap in the face. He thanked the community for the opportunity to serve on the Plan Commission over the years. He considers that time an honor and a privilege. It was also an honor and privilege for him to serve with some very fine volunteers who are dedicated to the Village. Unfortunately because a lot of these Commission hearings are not televised, he does not think that the Village citizens understand what goes on until they attend one of those meetings. He may miss the members, but he will have a lot more free time on his hands. He is not irreplaceable. He doesn’t think about that. But he thinks it is time to let someone else put up with the temper tantrums and the mood swings. He doesn’t need the brain damage. He will find some other way to serve this community. He said that he had one last thing to say before he leaves, and said that the Mayor has lost him as a volunteer and lost his vote. At the next Mayoral election it will be his turn to fire the Mayor.
Dr. Goodman, 5834 Middaugh, said there are some meetings he attends where he doesn’t say a word. However, this agenda has some important issues. He pointed out that there was a successful Coalition Forum with the Director of Planning and Community Development Sbiral speaking, as well as the Director of the Wheaton Character Counts program. A video of that meeting is scheduled to broadcast on Wednesday at 6:00 and at 9:30 p.m. He encouraged people to watch that video and see what was discussed.
Dr. Goodman said another video is of the Park Board meeting regarding remedial work in Lyman Woods, which is very costly. He encouraged people to watch this video. It would be helpful if they had the participation of other government agencies such as the Forest Preserve.
Dr. Goodman stated he was glad to see that there were no motions for censure on next week’s meeting agenda. What was going on was completely unacceptable in his opinion. Approval of the reappointment of the Plan Commission members was a significant accomplishment.
The Mayor said he has had several discussions with members of the Forest Preserve and the Park District with regards to helping shoulder the burden of the maintenance of Lyman Woods. The Park District has the maintenance agreement and they are spending a substantial amount of money with respect to the stabilization of Lyman Woods.
Mark Griesbaum , 6012 Ridgewood Circle, said he has been a member of the Plan Commission since 1996. His involvement in the Village has been rewarding. The situation faced by the Plan Commission over the past few weeks is unfortunate. Prior to his involvement with the Plan Commission, Mr. Griesbaum was President of the Dunham Place Homeowners’ Association, working closely with the Village management to bring positive changes to the southern portion of our community. He is proud of what’s been accomplished during his tenure with the Commission; however, the actions of the Mayor and Village Council over the past weeks is inappropriate by the nature of decisions and politics being displayed. He has been, and continues to play senior management roles in major corporations in the Chicago area and this type of behavior would be deemed inappropriate and not tolerated. Therefore, it should not be tolerated in this Village. Returning to the Plan Commission would only send the message that this behavior is OK, and it is not. Therefore, Mr. Griesbaum said that he cannot accept reappointment to the Plan Commission. If at some point in the future the Village situation changes he may consider participating again in some capacity for the Village if he is asked to do so. Mr. Griesbaum said there is a new Village Manager starting this month and he pleaded with the Mayor and Council members to allow her to do the job she has been hired to perform. He recommended they stay out of her way as much as they can and let her re-establish credibility and some morale among the Village staff. He appreciates the opportunity and privilege of serving on this Commission for the past ten years. His decision on this has not gone without a lot of consternation and a lot of thought. He thanked the planning staff and fellow Commissioners for being great to work with for all of these years.
George Nicholaou , 4845 Highland, has been a Plan Commission member since 2002, and served for 18 months in meetings of the Strategic Planning Committee. He served as Chairman of the new Sign Ordinance Committee and said that his involvement in this work has been fulfilling. He said it is fulfilling because of the major accomplishments that have been made, and primarily because of the opportunity to work with fellow volunteer citizens who truly love this community and are dedicated to giving back to it. The Village is blessed with these individuals, especially those of the Plan Commission who he has come to call not only his fellow Commissioners, but his friends. Mr. Nicholaou said he wears the badge of citizen seriously and with pride, as it is his obligation to his family and his grandchildren to set examples that they some day may wish to emulate. He looks forward to continuing his relationships with his fellow citizens, as they have earned each other’s respect. They are, as volunteers of the community, serving at the pleasure of their elected officials. He noted that the interesting thing about this country is that it is a two-way street, but elected officials often see it as a one-way street. Citizens always see it as a two-way street. With that thought in mind, in good conscience he cannot and will not serve a leader who abdicates the role of citizens first and forsakes that for politics. Mr. Nicholaou withdrew his name from reconsideration as a member of the Plan Commission and thanked the wonderful staff with whom he has had the pleasure of working.
Tohurs Alcon , 4700 Douglas Road, commented that he thinks the Council needs to make an effort to continue with the redevelopment issues that were being discussed by the Plan Commission. There are many people involved who have spent money working up drawings and plans, and they expected to have a meeting yesterday. Now it will be backed up another month. The Village needs to move the plans along, and this is the worst time for something like this to happen. He requested the Mayor, Council and Manager work out a way to get back on track.
Commissioner Sandack said that he was sorry that those members decided not to serve, and thanked them for their service.
Commissioner Waldack thanked the Board and Commission members and said their services are greatly appreciated. He said that he voluntarily removed his resolution from the agenda after a conversation with the Village Manager in an effort to decompress the situation. He has repeatedly attempted to disassociate that resolution from other issues, but media coverage has made it difficult. His timing was based on an infraction that occurred a week earlier and he saw no time to delay. He made it clear that he intends to place this on a future agenda, but wants to move forward to address pressing issues. He said this was not done for political motives or to force anyone’s hand, but was in response to an observation of something that was done that should not be allowed by any leader at any level.
Commissioner Schnell thanked the Plan Commission members who resigned for their service. They have been rocks on that Board and she appreciates the time and energy they spent on the Board. She acknowledged the amount of time spent by Mr. Nicholaou on the Sign Ordinance. She said it is regretful that they have come to this point and the Plan Commission will miss their expertise and knowledge. She did, however, understand why they felt it necessary to resign. It will take a long while for new members to come up to speed. She thanked them on behalf of herself and the Village.
Commissioner Schnell then said that she has received calls about the pit bull issue and what the Village is doing to protect people. She asked that information be provided in future Workshop meeting to highlight what the present ordinance says, what other communities are doing, and what the Village can do proactively to protect the residents.
Commissioner McConnell clarified that there were a number of other Boards that are not being replaced tonight not for lack of interest. With the Plan Commission there were specific timing issues that had to be addressed. She thanked the Plan Commissioners who are willing to stay on, as well as those who resigned. She stressed that the Council members are trying to do the right thing, but don’t always agree how to do that.
Commissioner Urban said the three men will be sorely missed and he thanked them for serving the community for over 30 years cumulatively. He is also hopeful that the Council will move forward. Often you have to take a step backwards to move forward, and he hoped this would put this Council on the right track to govern, set policy and have staff implement that policy. He looks forward to the retreat, and one of the topics of discussion will be on how to appoint Board and Commission members.
Commissioner Tully congratulated the Indian Boundary YMCA for their annual Bids for Kids event. They exceeded their goal for fundraising which goes back into the community. District 58’s weekend fundraiser was entertaining and interesting, and poked fun at a number of individuals and found in an odd way some humor in some unfortunate events over the past couple of weeks. With respect to Acadia on the Green, he asked for a brief update at each Workshop in regard to this project. He then thanked the Management Team for the stellar job they did while the search for a Village Manager was conducted.
Commissioner Tully then said that his biggest apology is that all of this could and should have been avoided on numerous occasions by multiple people. There has been collateral damage because of this. He extended his appreciation to the Board and Commission members, and thanked those on the Plan Commission who will continue to serve as well as those resigning. He said the positions taken by the three resigning members is completely understandable
Mayor Krajewski extended his appreciation to the Plan Commission members resigning, and extended his apologies to them for being caught up in some issues with the Village Council. He said that hopefully the Village Council will be able to work with the new Village Manager who will come in on Monday. In addition, there were pressing issues to be addressed and for that reason the Plan Commission appointments were made tonight. He acknowledged that other Boards are equally important and will be addressed later. He noted that some members have indicated they no longer want to serve. He also apologized to them.
The Mayor then said that the DuPage Environmental Commission had a presentation on smoke-free ordinances. He said he would discuss this with staff. He noted that a number of European countries as well as 17 states have gone smoke free, and there are efforts underway by a number of DuPage communities. Woodridge has been trying to work with Lisle, Lemont and Downers Grove to do something together, and there has been discussion with DuPage Managers on this issue. He asked that this be forwarded on to the Environmental Concerns Commission to determine future direction.
The Mayor said a resident asked him this weekend about the ornamental sign on Ogden Avenue and Oakwood which is missing. He asked for a status update on that so he can inform the resident. In addition, he said he would like to revisit the Committees and the amount of work being generated by them. He said he would like to look at streamlining the questions to avoid staff having to make preparations twice on the same issue.
There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk tmh