Skip to main content

January 10, 2006

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, William Waldack; Village Manager Cara Pavlicek; Village Attorney Enza Petrarca; Village Clerk April Holden

Absent: Commissioner Stan Urban Visitors: Press: Kevin Stahr, Downers Grove Reporter

Residents: Suzanne Polkow, Magnetrol International, 5300 Belmont; Richard Tarulis, Brooks, Adams & Tarulis, 101 N. Washington, Naperville, IL; Scott Canel, Alan Ives Construction, LLC , 10 S. LaSalle Street, #3440, Chicago, IL; Kevin and Mary Kurnik, 1136 62nd Place; Christine Fregeau, 1918 Elmore Ave.; Andrew Clark, 1226 62nd St; John Schofield, 1125 Jefferson Ave.; Bill Wrobel, 7800 Queens Court; Tom Kaiser, Life Link

Staff: Public Works Director Dave Barber, Traffic Manager Dorin Fera; Director of Tourism & Events Mary Scalzetti; Assistant Village Manager Mike Baker; Deputy Village Manager Dave Fieldman; Mike Millette, Assistant Director, Public Works

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.

Mary Scalzetti, Director, Tourism & Events presented the Village’s 2005 Holiday recognition awards. Certificates of Appreciation, commemorative ornaments, and gift certificates from the Downtown Downers Grove businesses were awarded to various families/businesses. First Place: The Piotek Family, 509 65th Street; Second Place: Magnetrol International; Third Place: The Wissmiller Family, 434 Indianapolis; Honorable Mention: The Kilgore Family, 4802 Francisco; Honorable Mention: The Keating Family, 3933 Main Street; and the Mayor’s Choice Award: The Kurnik Family, 1136 62nd Street. Accolades went to the Junior Women’s Club for volunteering their time in assisting in the judging of the homes.


Consent Agenda Items

1. Heritage Festival Amusement Ride Vendor. Village Manager Cara Pavlicek indicated this was an annual renewal with modest fee increases and date changes. No questions followed.

2. 2006 Transit Grant Agreement with PACE . The Manager reiterated the agreement was a renewal of the existing transit agreement between the Village and PACE and subsidizes a portion of the expenses associated with operating the commuter shuttle.

Commissioner Schnell inquired if the grant would continue once the buses were received from PACE .

Public Works Director Dave Barber said it would.

3. Intergovernmental Agreement with the Downers Grove Sanitary District for the Installation of a Waterline on Cornell Avenue. Manager Pavlicek explained the intergovernmental agreement would allow for the coordination and installation of other infrastructure with some Sanitary District activities with less disruption to the neighbors. No questions followed.

4. Resolution Authorizing a Depository. After going through the competitive bid process and the Village choosing a bank for its financial services, the awarded bank (U.S. Bank) would like some additional paperwork to be completed indicating them as the depository. No comments followed.

5. Motion to Authorize the Village Manager to Negotiate a Contract for the Space Needs Assessment with PSA Dewberry. Manager Pavlicek explained the bidded contract will be for a professional architect to determine a space needs assessment for Village Hall, the Social and Health Services facility, and the Police Department. The Manager requested authorization to continue discussions with PSA Dewberry and then return with a proposed contract for approval regarding the specific services to be completed.

Dave Fieldman, Deputy Village Manager described the bidding process. All firms submitted pricing schemes based on hourly rates. However, Mr. Fieldman believed some of those rates would be negotiable.

Active Agenda and Informational Items

1. Taxi Subsidy Amendments. Manager Pavlicek explained that three documents within the Village pertained to the taxi subsidy program: the Municipal Code, the Council Policy, and the Administrative Regulation, as issued by the Village Manager. Because the documents had contradictory language in them, Manger Pavlicek asked to eliminate the Administrative Regulation document and to amend the Municipal Code in order for it to conform to the Village Council Policy.

Commissioner Waldack spoke highly of the Village’s taxi subsidy program.

Village Attorney Enza Petrarca, in response to Commissioner Waldack, confirmed that the Village has a Taxi Commissioner.

Commissioner Waldack emphasized that the taxi drivers must be made aware that they will not be reimbursed for trips to the airport and also to be aware of potential fraud by non-resident riders. He explained that seniors and paratransit individuals who used coupons were to be respected by the drivers. Should complaints or abuse arise, riders should contact the appropriate taxi companies.

Mayor Krajewski asked that the Village’s Call Response Center track those complaints. No further questions/comments followed.

2. Plan Commission File No. 31-05 – 2449 Ogden Avenue Rezoning.

Commissioner Tully clarified that the zoning status that is proposed is consistent with the Village’s Ogden Avenue Plan and the Future Land Use Map. No questions/comments followed.

3. FY 06 /07 Budget Discussion: Employee Compensation. The Manager reported this matter was brought before the Council in advance of the budget preparation process to get direction on specific expenditures. Recommendations were provided from staff. The Manager noted that wages for those employees not covered under the collective bargaining agreement are determined by Council through an employee classification schedule. Staff was recommending modifications to be effective May 1, 2006.

Commissioner Sandack supported this process and clarified for the public how the Village paid its employees in order be competitive with the business market.

Commissioner McConnell commented she was an advocate to move this process to a merit basis since she has been on Council and saw this as a first step. Manager Pavlicek indicated that the budget document would be prepared with the figures presented.

4. FY 06 /07 Budget Discussion: Home Rule Sales Tax Strategy. The Manager discussed the history of the adoption of the Home Rule sales tax of .5%, noting that on April 1, 2006 the percentage rate “sunsets.” A review of where the sales tax dollars were being generated followed: 25% from Downers Grove residents and 75% from non-residents. The Manager explained the cost of providing public services to the Village was determined not only by a residential population but also determined by the daytime population who work in the Village. A Home Rule sales tax was appropriate to provide the many public services. Staff recommended that the Council discuss an extension of the Home Rule sales tax for the future and also suggested earmarking the funds for capital projects.

Commissioner McConnell supported that the funds be used for capital projects for this year’s budget but to leave the tax rate at the current level while the Council determines long-term figures and new municipal facilities.

Commissioner Tully recalled the discussion that took place on this matter three years ago and the options that were being considered at that time. He said the economy was in a recession and the Village’s revenue streams were down and the decision to impose the tax at that time was a good choice. The implementation of a “sunset” clause at that time was to eventually address the tax rate at a future point and for the Council to weigh the merits to continue it or not. Commissioner Tully summarized how continuing the sales tax would support the long-term capital projects needed in the Village without raising residents’ property taxes, since most of the sales tax was from non-residents coming to the Village. He supported the continuance of the current sales tax rate for an indefinite period of time as long as a majority of the funds were dedicated to capital needs.

Mayor Krajewski said one of the reasons Downers Grove had such low property taxes was due to the large number of non-residents who come to work and shop in Downers Grove. He noted that since he has been on the Village Council, there has been no dedicated funding source for capital projects and he supported one. He did not support continuing the Home Rule sales tax in the general fund, however. He favored moving the sales tax over to the capital fund as dedicated funding and then allow all utility taxes to stay in the general fund. He commended staff for continually bringing in business to the Village.

Due to the number of capital projects, Commissioner Schnell supported the sales tax continuing at the current rate even though she initially thought a .25% tax rate would be sufficient. She remarked that the Council needed to be aware that many of the Village’s residents were on fixed incomes and could not afford raised property taxes. She said this is good for the community as it allows the Village to fund projects without raising taxes. She said she would support this.

Commissioner Waldack noted that this tax was discussed previously and was to be dedicated to infrastructure, i.e. streets, storm sewers, watermains, sidewalks, etc. He said many residents find this acceptable. He expressed concern over earmarking the funds for capital projects and not just infrastructure. He supported an extension of the Home Rule sales tax for infrastructure but not include municipal facilities outside Fire Station 2 for now. It is prudent to set money aside for future expenses. He suggested increasing the Home Rule sales tax to 1%. In doing so, then abatement of property taxes could occur by $2.2 million yet still raise $6.6 million for infrastructure.

Commissioner Sandack was pleased to see a consensus among the members to extend the Home Rule sales tax. However, he pointed out that with respect to raising the Home Rule sales tax, there becomes a point of diminishing returns, but the above concept, as raised by Commissioner Waldack, could be a topic of discussion. Commissioner Sandack clarified the Village was not “jumping the gun” with its capital projects, and, in fact, was behind in its list and certain projects were lacking.

On that point, Mayor Krajewski stated that the Council has to address the $1.0 million deficit in the transportation fund and create a plan on how to address it.

Commissioner Sandack suggested dedicating a part of the Home Rule sales tax to the transportation fund.

Manager Pavlicek also agreed, stating that the items in the auditor’s management letter needed to be addressed prior to the fiscal year or the Council would have to accept the fact that the items would continue on the list. At the February 25 Workshop, the Manager would provide recommendations for funding transfers. However, she recommended more discussion and recommendations on this topic to occur at the February 14 Workshop.

Mayor Krajewski asked for the sales tax figures for January, which staff confirmed was just under $1,000,000 and which was ahead of budget and ahead of last year. Other discussion followed on providing an update on the survey of property taxes in the County. Staff offered to contact other municipalities for such information. The Mayor asked staff to provide him with a copy of the space needs survey.

Commissioner Schnell reiterated that Home Rule sales tax does not apply to food, drugs or autos.

With regard to the capital projects, Commissioner Tully clarified to the public that the Village would be dedicating funds from the Home Rule sales tax for a certain period of time for specific capital projects. Capital projects currently are funded, but not at the level the Council would like them to be funded. Home Rule sales tax helps to provide for future needs.

Suzanne Polkow, 7336 Exner, Darien, Illinois, asked who determines the base of the sales tax, wherein it was clarified that the State sets it and the various municipalities and governmental agencies add to it.

The Village Manager confirmed that action on the extension of the Home Rule sales tax would need to take place mid-March so that proper notification could be forwarded to the state.

5. Parking & Traffic Recommendations:

No questions followed on the five recommendations.

a. Lee Avenue south of Ogden – Parking Modifications.

b. Haddow Avenue (Puffer School) – Parking Modifications, P&T File #27-05.

c. Mistwood Homeowners Association – Posting of Speed Limit 20 MPH .

d. U-Turns Prohibited Locations in Village, New Code Section 14-8.1.

e. Corrections to STOP Sign Intersections in Village, Code Sections 14-80 (Isolate), 14-80.1 (4-way); Corrections to YIELD Sign Intersections in Village, Code Sections 14-63.

6. Resolution Authorizing Reallocation of Bond Volume Cap to the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Scott Canel, President of Alan Ives Construction Co, 10 S. LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois, explained he is the developer to redevelop 933 units in the Life Link portfolio, with some 270 units located in Downers Grove. Life Link, a charitable organization, formed in 1985 is an affiliate of the United Church of Christ. He introduced Tom Kaiser, Vice President and Corporate Counsel for Life Link. Mr. Canel was seeking to obtain the Village’s volume cap in order to rehab the 270 units of elderly housing in Downers Grove. Each unit will receive $15,000 worth of rehab work. The units will be subsidized through Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 affordable housing, with the individual renters paying 30% of their annual income for rent. Life Link, however, has been able to negotiate through HUD to give Life Link a 20-year extension of the Section 8 contract, thereby keeping a significant amount of money in the Village’s community. Two facilities, Immanuel Residences and Peace Memorial, will be rehabilitated. Therefore, Mr. Canel explained that $10,800,000 of volume cap was necessary for this project. He commended Deputy Village Manager Dave Fieldman for responding so quickly on this matter. Mr. Canel stated that 85% of the individuals on the waiting list for these units were Downers Grove residents.

Tom Kaiser, Vice President and Corporate Counsel for Life Link, praised the project and respectfully requested the Village’s volume cap. As to the Gilbert property which is located on three plats of land, one currently used as a commuter parking lot, Mr. Kaiser pointed out that in year 29 of the HUD contract, the Village of Downers Grove will have the option to purchase the land. However, if Life Link extends its HUD contract, the Village will have to pass on the right to purchase the parcel. Per Mr. Kaiser, the matter would have to be addressed within the next few weeks. Mr. Canel explained that the initial contract was a 40-year contract but whereas HUD was committing 20 years on the Section 8 contract, HUD was making the new mortgage on the properties and their concern was that the purchase option kicked in after their new mortgage. It would not, however, affect the Village’s ability to use the property. Mr. Kaiser asked that the Council support and pass a resolution to transfer the Village’s volume cap ($4 million) to the Illinois Housing Development Authority, who would issue the bonds for the overall Life Link projects.

Manager Pavlicek stated she would provide the Council with the necessary paperwork.

Mayor Krajewski supported the project but asked what the Village’s fee would be.

Deputy Village Manager Dave Fieldman explained that staff was not recommending that the Village accept a fee in this transaction. However, per the question, it would be approximately 1% if the Village were to sell it outside the Village boundaries, or $40,000.

Mayor Krajewski agreed not to take the fee but did recommend giving the fee to Immanuel Residences and Peace Memorial for their bus program to allow seniors to travel to different activities.

Manager Pavlicek offered to follow up as to what was permitted with the funds and then speak with Mr. Canel to discuss it further.

Per a question, Mr. Canel expected the project to be completed by May 2007. He further explained how the rehabbing takes place, the time it takes, and the assistance that is provided to the resident while rehabbing is occurring.

Commissioner Tully agreed the project was positive and it promotes affordable housing in Downers Grove and DuPage County. It is one of the powers of Home Rule authority.

7. Resolution Policy re: Meeting Agenda Preparation. Manager Pavlicek explained that this policy addresses guidelines for the Village Manager to follow in preparation of Village Council meeting agendas. The policy would allow any member of the Council to request an item to be placed on a Workshop agenda for the purposes of discussion by the entire Council to determine what direction was necessary, if any, and then place the matter on the actual Workshop agenda if that was the direction of the Council.

Commissioner Tully clarified some language in Paragraphs 2 and 4 in the resolution.

Commissioner Waldack pointed out that nowhere in the Municipal Code did it state that the Village Manager shall “determine” what is on the Council agenda. It did, however, state that the “Village Manager shall submit a consent agenda of uncontroversial items for consideration” and that a request for a single item to be removed from the Consent Agenda could be considered separately. In the proposed policy, he explained that both the Village Manager and Village Clerk were responsible for the “preparation” of the agenda and that preparation did not mean “determination.” Continuing, Commissioner Waldack disagreed with Section 1 of the proposed resolution and expressed his concerns about clarifying the responsibilities of the Village Manager in setting the agenda. The language was too vague and placed restrictions on Village Council. He reiterated the Village Manager, could “determine” what items get placed on, off, or delayed from, the agenda. Other concerns followed. How issues are brought forward needs to be studied. He said he believed an ad hoc committee is necessary to discuss various rules and procedures and include members of the public.

Manager Pavlicek appreciated the comments, but explained one of the roles of her position was to facilitate the process of moving issues forward before the governing body as a whole. She said there is a lack of consensus on some matters of the entire governing body and staff is looking for a majority of the Council rather than individual Council members to direct the activities of staff. It is not her intent to control the matters that come before the Council but, instead, to have direction from the entire Council.

Commissioner Sandack called attention to the fact that a policy was in place but the resolution before the group was to seek further refinement of the policy and not to usurp power. Furthermore, the policy allowed for public participation more than once.

Commissioner McConnell also supported clarifying some of the language and agreed the resolution did not give the Village Manager undue authority. She noted there is still an opportunity for public comment and for Council members to bring up new business. She said she is favor of discussing this with Lyle Sumek.

Commissioner Tully concurred with Commissioner Sandack’s comments, and pointed out that during regular Council meetings any member of the Council could bring up matters under New Business. He said the Council needs a process to address differences and to guide how items are put on an agenda. He does not believe the intention of the policy was to limit public comment.

In response, Commissioner Waldack indicated he interpreted Item 4 differently because it was worded differently and thought it was more limiting. He recommended that the Village be careful how the resolution was worded in order to avoid potential abuse in the future. Manager Pavlicek stated she would review the comments made, speak to the Village Attorney, and return with modifications.

The Mayor said this streamlines the process and makes better use of resources. It will help Council and save time.


Public Services Committee

Commissioner Schnell said the Public Services Committee would not meet next week since staff was still in the process of prioritizing the capital needs projects.

Public Safety Committee

Commissioner McConnell announced that the Public Safety Committee has not met and does not have a meeting scheduled.

Finance Committee

Commissioner Tully stated the Finance and Administrative Committee has a meeting scheduled for January 17, 2006 at 5:30 p.m. at Village Hall. Topic of discussion: Budget Process Overview.


The Manager stated the Village Hall facility will be hosting a seminar on Part D of the Medicare program on January 11, 2006. Also, the DuPage County Election Commission has selected the Village Hall to hold early voting from February 27, 2006 to March 16, 2006. This will afford registered voters the opportunity to vote in advance of Election Day.

Mayor Krajewski noted that this was a new law and a number of states offer this to their citizens.


Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she was presenting 13 items to the Council:

  1. a resolution authorizing execution of the 2006 addendum to the Astro Amusement contract between Astro Amusement Co. and the Village of Downers Grove;
  2. A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and Suburban Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (PACE);
  3. a resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and the Downers Grove Sanitary District to provide construction of water and sanitary sewer improvements to serve property in the vicinity of Cornell Avenue south of Curtiss Street;
  4. a resolution authorizing execution of depository services agreements between the Village of Downers Grove and U.S. Bank;
  5. an ordinance amending tax fare subsidies;
  6. a resolution regarding the taxi fare subsidy program for senior citizens and persons with disabilities;
  7. an ordinance amending the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of the Village of Downers Grove, Illinois, passed and approved April 19, 1965, as amended, to rezone property located at 2499 Ogden Avenue;
  8. an ordinance amending parking restrictions on Lee Avenue and Haddow Avenue;
  9. an ordinance amending the speed limit on certain Village streets;
  10. an ordinance prohibiting U-turns;
  11. an ordinance amending traffic regulations;
  12. a resolution authorizing reallocation of bond volume cap to the Illinois Housing Development Authority; and
  13. a resolution establishing a Village Council policy regarding preparation of Village Council agendas and Village Workshop agendas.


Commissioner Waldack discussed the geese nuisance within the Village of Downers Grove, noting they were problematic nationally but were protected federally. He suggested that the Council ask whether Public Works had some policies in place to reduce the bird pollution. He suggested working with other government agencies regarding the potential health issue associated with the birds.

Mayor Krajewski suggested that staff speak to the DuPage County Environmental Commission since they had some research on the matter. The Manager said she would return with a report.

Commissioner Schnell asked whether transportation existed for those seniors who would like to attend the Medicare seminar

Mike Baker, Assistant Village Manager, confirmed that transportation was provided.

Mayor Krajewski asked staff the status of the West Nile mosquito spray program. The Mayor noted that a meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 to discuss a smoking ban in DuPage County. Manager Pavlicek recalled the Village’s Environmental Concerns Commission was going to be discussing the same topic on an upcoming agenda. She would forward them the necessary information.

There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 8:38 p.m