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, Martin Tully, Ron Sandack, Stan Urban, William Waldack, Sean P. Durkin; Village Manager Cara Pavlicek; Assistant Village Attorney Ann Marie Perez; Village Clerk April Holden
Absent:Village Attorney Enza Petrarca Visitors: Press: Kiran Mehendale, Naperville Sun Residents: Andy Clark, 1226 62nd Street; Bruce Beckman, 4629 Middaugh Avenue; Geoff Neustadt, 4633 Saratoga Avenue; Steve Hrbek, 1020 W. 31st Street; Mark Thoman, 1109 61st Street; David Dunwell, 1413 62nd Street; Kathleen Urbanski; Tom O’Malley, 1278 Candlewood; Phyllis Martinez, 3855 Sterling; Mary Anne Paradise, 3613 Saratoga Avenue; Kevin Baltrus, 429 Kingston Drive, Romeoville; Bill Wrobel, 7800 Queens Court; Frank Falesch, 820 Prairie Avenue; Christine Fregeau, 1918 Elmore Avenue; Tom Sisul, 5120 Main Street; Rich Sarac, 228 55th Street; Gary Brouillet, 5249 Park Avenue Staff: Greg Zimmerman, Director, Human Resources; Jim Black, Deputy Police Chief; Dave Barber, Director, Public Works; Mary Scalzetti, Director, Tourism & Events; Dave Fieldman, Deputy Village Manager; Mike Baker, Assistant Village Manager; Phil Ruscetti, Fire Chief; Liangfu Wu, Director, Information Services; Rita Trainor, Finance Director; Don Rosenthal, Director, Community Development; Andy Matejcak, Director, Counseling & Social 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.
The Mayor introduced members of Pack 80, from Belle Aire and Highland Schools who are working on their Citizenship Badges. One of the Scouts mentioned that there is a speeding problem on Coralberry Street. The Mayor said that earlier some of the Scouts said they would like to see additional fireworks, and they would like a public pool. The Mayor explained to them that the issue of a pool was governed by the Park District. There was also a question about a third high school. A question regarding the KFC on Ogden Avenue which is being painted was asked, and the Manager said staff knows of nothing different going in there. It is apparently just being painted. The Mayor thanked the Scouts for coming to the meeting and wished them well on their Citizenship badges.
Mayor Krajewski mentioned that earlier in the day he attended the DuPage Children’s Museum, saying that the Comcast Foundation donated a $100,000 grant to set up a math resource center for kindergarten students. He said that the Indian Trail kindergartners were the first students to go through the exhibit.
Consent Agenda Items
Replacement of Two Village Hall Copiers. Village Manager Cara Pavlicek corrected the amount to be “not to exceed $33,857” due to additional options requested by staff.
Commissioner Durkin asked whether there will be contracts for service. The Manager said there will be, and the company recommended has performed satisfactorily in the past. These are black and white copiers.
Metra Intergovernmental Agreement – Belmont Road Grade Separation Project.
Commissioner Schnell asked for clarification as to the site plan and whether it is the one that was approved some time back because there were some promises made to the residents at that time that are not reflected in this agreement. The Manager said she would provide follow-up information on that issue prior to next week. This is not a final approval of a final site plan.
Commissioner Waldack asked about provision of future maintenance costs. In Exhibit B, it calls for 293 parking places, referencing a cost of $10.00 for the property. As to Exhibit E and the use of premises, he read Paragraph C regarding establishing parking fees for residents and non-residents, asking that the language be tightened up to refer only to this agreement and not other agreements for other facilities. He said that the Council has previously discussed subsidizing the buses, and the rates in particular for out-of-towners, and this agreement prevents any distinction between Downers Grove residents and out-of-towners. This agreement allows for a subsidy for out-of-towners.
Commissioner Waldack then noted inconsistency in language regarding daily fees to Metra commuters versus non-rail customers. In relation to the fee to park, the $3.00 per day fee and agreement is much more stringent than any other agreements, and this is a 40-year agreement. He asked how long the Village will be forced to charge not more than $3.00, with that decision being placed solely in the hands of Metra’s Executive Director. He thought in the past the Village could raise rates with Metra appealing within 30 days. This agreement allows no appeals. He then related his experience with PACE some years ago, which was a series of roadblocks. He objects to the fact that there is no process to raise rates without the agreement of Metra’s Executive Director. Theoretically, Metra could increase train fares and keep the parking rates at $3.00. He says this is important because the next section of the agreement concerns Maintenance, Access and Relocation, which specifies that the municipality at its own cost and expense shall manage the Metra improvements including routine maintenance such as snow removal, insurance, lighting upkeep, sealing and patching, patrolling the premises, payment of utility expenses associated with the operation of Metra improvements. In addition, the municipality is also responsible for capital improvements including major rehab, excavation, demolition of structures, new construction, light standard placement, or replacement necessitated by damage to the structure. He said these costs can be expected to escalate over the 40-year period, yet the Village is limited by the $3.00 maximum parking rate unless the Executive Director of Metra allows for an increase. Therefore, the Village is stuck with operating and capital expenses and the daily parking fee is limited. He wants to see that language loosened. In addition, he referred to Section 8, Indemnification and Waiver, saying the Village has no recourse against Metra’s. He also would like to see a change in wording with regard to the termination of agreement, so as not to be totally at Metra’s discretion. Should Metra terminate the agreement, the Village gets to compensate Metra at Metra’s sole discretion.
In Section 15 on Revenues, Commissioner Waldack referred to the use of excess funds from the parking fees going directly to Metra. He asked whether the funds can go into the transportation fund and still be tracked separately. He would like to see the funds used for other transportation needs such as the commuter parking system or the circulator system.
Commissioner Waldack said he sees this agreement as simply a refined agreement of Metra’s old hat philosophy which he thinks goes against the residents of Downers Grove, and against the RTA and PACE transportation partners, as well as being hurtful for Metra itself. He sees the project itself as necessary and supports the project. The Village wants to go ahead with this project, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to push this agreement through. Metra wants people to use the rail system, PACE wants people to use public transportation to get to Metra, as would the RTA and the Village, all in an effort to decrease traffic and pollution. He is not encouraging people not to use Metra, however, he urged re-evaluating this agreement, and he does not intend to support it as presented, unless there is an adjustment to the restrictions.
Mayor Krajewski said that Metra is spending $37.5 million to build the underpass. If the Village does not agree to this, they could have a private firm managing the lots.
Manager Pavlicek said that staff can provide additional information regarding the agreement, saying she was under the impression that there was a desire by the Village to control the facilities. Metra would be happy to run the lots as owners of the property. Staff needs to understand the Council’s desire on this.
The Mayor said that the Village could buy the lots, adding that the Village has not put a penny into the underpass project. This has been a revenue-generator for the Village, because the Village has been taking money from the parking fund to support other transportation costs. He said the Village can explore the path of running the lots ourselves.
Commissioner Waldack clarified that the agreement as written bothers him because the Village is responsible for operation and capital expenses over a 40-year period, and there are sections where the Village indemnifies the agency in perpetuity. They need to clarify and change some of the language as the Village needs to make sure it can recoup the costs in parking. Now it is totally up to the Executive Director of Metra as to whether the Village can raise rates over the 40 years, and Council needs to see how this looks and how this affects the transportation partners.
The Mayor asked for information regarding whether the Village can raise rates if costs exceed revenues.
Assistant Village Attorney, Ann Marie Perez said the Legal Department will look into this.
Manager Pavlicek clarified that the Village’s position for negotiation will reach a limit.
Commissioner Tully explained that this is a bundle of agreements that address different situations. There is a distinction between the grade separation project, which everyone supports and is in compliance with strategic plans. Related agreements are under discussion and include parking lots, buffering, locations, etc. He understands that the indemnification language in Exhibit E applies to the construction process, and if there is a claim, Metra is indemnified unless it relates to negligence on their part, which is no different than the present situation. He does think the language needs to be more specific, however. As to the $10.00 point mentioned by Commissioner Waldack, Commissioner Tully said it is his understanding that this is in respect to an easement, and the Village is not giving away any land. It is important to look at each agreement in terms of what it is related to.
Attorney Perez* explained that the land will be purchased by Metra, given to the Village and then the Village will give an easement to Metra.
Mayor Krajewski asked for clarification as to which parking lots at Warren and Burlington are owned by whom.
Dave Barber , Director, Public Works, said the Village owns the ones to the west and the Burlington owns the ones to the east. Manager Pavlicek said staff will get back to the Council to provide additional information on the questions raised.
Fire Station #2 Design Development Plans.
Class A Scavenger License Renewal.
Met-Coil Access Agreement.
Active Agenda and Informational Items
Business Licenses. The Manager asked Mike Baker, Assistant Village Manager, to address this item.
Mike Baker , Assistant Village Manager, outlined the framework for a comprehensive business license program in Downers Grove. Staff has had preliminary discussions and conducted research in how business licensing is administered in other communities. He said his goal is to present a conceptual framework for the Council’s information, and to seek direction to move forward in drafting an ordinance and implementation of that ordinance. Mr. Baker said the business license program is an expanded and comprehensive business licensing, as the Village already has some licensing provisions. There are at least 2,500 businesses in the community. This program would allow the Village to assemble and manage a comprehensive database of active businesses in Downers Grove. This database would be valuable for reasons such as emergency information, it would combine multiple records, and it would assist in the economic development and retention issues. This would also enhance communication between the Village and local businesses. Staff sees this program as an opportunity to improve uniformity of business license administration and coordination among Village departments. There are several licenses already in existence. The program would require licensing or registration depending upon the business activity. The fee would recover the costs in administering the program to allow more efficient and thorough implementation. The core elements are based on State Statute requirements and limitations. The Statutes limit the municipality from licensing certain types of businesses. This would apply to businesses with a presence in Downers Grove. Additionally, certain businesses that operate in the Village, such as tree removal companies, but do not maintain a permanent physical presence would be required to obtain a license or register. The issuance of licenses would be subject to inspection with regard to the building, fire/life safety and zoning. The program would include an administrative hearing process. Fees would be based primarily on the interior square footage of the business, and fixed fees for certain types of activities. Registration fees should be nominal. Mr. Baker said that the next step would be meeting with key stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commerce, and the Economic Development Corporation. Staff has had initial meetings with these agencies. Staff’s anticipated schedule is to draft the ordinance over the next few months, have the implementation plan presented in December and January with the ordinance presented for approval in February 2007, and implementation beginning in the summer 2007.
Commissioner Sandack asked whether staff has ordinances from other municipalities which the Council can review before drafts are started. Mr. Baker said they have ordinances from ten or twelve municipalities, and have looked at five specifically. Commissioner Sandack asked for copies of the five that staff liked. Commissioner Sandack said that the concept he had in mind was more registration than licensing. Licensure, as described, is problematic in that it entails an administrative code and appeal process. He noted the need to understand the structure and how to pay for it. He doesn’t want it to become a tax to generate revenue. The business license/registration program should dovetail with the database and should be maintained in order to be used to have a meaningful dialogue with the business community. He is fearful of developing a major department to run this and doesn’t want to see expansion.
The Mayor assumed that the initial cost is start-up, he thinks in terms of perhaps one person handing this.
The Manager said that staff may have received a mixed message, because staff went into the budget process reflecting no revenue, and Council had asked for a line item for revenue. To avoid it becoming a tax, you can truly only charge what it costs to manage the program. To the degree that there is more than a registration, it’s difficult to provide a license without checks and balances. In different cases this is done, but staff needs more direction from the Council due to the varying degrees of comments.
Commissioner Sandack said he sees the Council serving as an appeal board, and he doesn’t favor basing the fee on square footage, as that goes beyond the construct that he understood. He understood this to be more a registration process than an actual licensing process. This has become more expansive than he thought was originally intended.
The Mayor asked what was discussed in budget, and the Manager said the Council asked that $100,000 be put into the budget. Based on the estimate, the cost would be about $40-$50 per business.
Commissioner Sandack said regarding the physical presence concept, businesses not in the Village will be difficult to license. He understands trying to capture what is in the Village. Home occupations may be a problem, and may be beyond the scope of what the Village is trying to capture in this situation, and he thinks that will be almost impossible to capture.
The Manager asked for clarification that the Village already does license arborist activities that do not have a physical presence in the Village but do work here. Mr. Baker said that the two examples of those are the tree removal and scavenger companies. He clarified that the Council is not looking to change the existing Code. The Manager said regarding home-based businesses, they may be an important niche in the community with which to have a communication forum.
Commissioner Schnell said that this will put a tremendous burden on the Code Enforcement staff. She thinks they need to think this though regarding compliance with the Codes. She said she is not sure about the need to license and regulate home occupations, as she sees too much stress on Code Enforcement. She is not opposing licensing or complying with the Code. Commissioner Schnell expressed interest in how other municipalities have dealt with this and whether they have hired additional employees. She also asked about penalties if people choose not to register with the Village. Home occupations would be difficult to get to register. Commissioner Schnell said her intent was to open communication, and she doesn’t want to create more work for staff or problems for people running home occupations.
Mr. Baker responded that in discussion with staff many of these same issues have been brought up. The Manager said that staff needs a policy so she can develop implementation. Commissioner Schnell said she does not want to implement a policy that will create a backlog. The Manager said that when Council asks staff to create information about cost of programs without specific policy direction, staff has to generate four or five different options.
The Manager asked about calling some other communities and asked if they include home-based businesses, as well as how many people administer their program and problems encountered.
Commissioner Schnell agreed that she needs that type of information in order to establish the policy.
Commissioner Durkin asked if the $100,000 in revenues reflected the existing licensing revenue. The Manager said that was an increase in the revenue of $100,000. Mr. Baker said it was a preliminary estimate of what they thought the revenue stream would look like prior to doing more detailed calculations in terms of the number of businesses and the fee amount. Commissioner Durkin asked whether that $100,000 revenue is above the costs of the operation. The Manager said it does not address any expenditure item other than the purchase of the EDEN module, which was being purchased for other community development related activities. Commissioner Durkin said he wants to gather information for future use. He doesn’t see a business license program as a revenue source. As to taxi companies and drivers that are currently licensed, he asked if that program included limousines, and if not, could limousines be included. Mr. Baker said it is currently just cabs, but he thinks limousines would be one of the business activities that would be considered additionally. The Manager said that would be a good example of a business in town that works in other geographical areas.
Commissioner Durkin then asked what the fees would be. The Manager said staff has proposed a fee based on square footage at this time. Commissioner Durkin said he does not support square footage, thinking it should be by categories or by unit cost. He also asked for a definition of home occupation. Commissioner Schnell said there is a definition in the zoning ordinance. Commissioner Durkin said that coming from a community that had licenses for businesses conducted out of homes, his concern is businesses run in residential areas. In Darien, there were problems with home-based businesses operating out of homes that exceeded the use of those properties and exceeded the limits of the residential areas. Without business licenses, the town would not have had knowledge of these problems.
Commissioner Urban said he wants to make it clear that they are not taxing businesses in Downers Grove. This is about keeping the business world honest, knowing what is in the community and keeping the community safe. He does not want to exclude any type of business with a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). He is worried about people running unlicensed, unsupervised businesses out of their homes without anyone knowing about it. He is worried about the Village getting its fair share of retail sales tax, and said Heritage Festival vendors are an example. He wants to see every business registered and licensed in the community. This is a monumental task for staff and they cannot do it with the existing staff. He wants other communities researched to determine how their staff had to be enhanced to run the program efficiently. Commissioner Urban said he is not in favor of square footage fees, and wants to see one set fee as a registration fee. The money will come through fine structures.
Commissioner Tully said this concept has received a fair amount of acceptance. The direction has been that we should have business licenses for many reasons. The question is what form should they take to fit in with this community, and then how can it be implemented. Implementation cannot be discussed without formatting the program first. In his opinion they should have licenses, pick the best form of the program to use, fine tune the program to the Village and implement the program. He reviewed the components of what would have to be done. He said what had been talked about is to have a license or registration process in order to communicate with the businesses in the Village. The Village needs a mechanism for code enforcement to conduct an inspection. Without a mechanism for code enforcement, the job cannot be done properly.
As for special use, the Council has granted many special uses with the caveat that if the use changes the petitioner must come back to the Village to reapply; however, how does the Village know when that use has changed. There must be an information tool.
In regard to fees, Commissioner Tully said he understands the objections to square footage. They may need to relate the fee to the time it takes to do the inspections, noting however that this is not supposed to be a revenue generator.
Commissioner Tully said, concerning home-based businesses, that there is probably an easy solution to this by excluding this completely. Regarding physical presence versus non-physical presence, if the goal is to know who is in the community and make sure that they follow the law, they need to look at this on a case-by-case basis. He doesn’t want to see them being held up by “what if’s.” He looks forward to working further on this issue.
Commissioner Waldack said it seems to him that they want something simple here, and that is to find out who is out there. He suggested offering an incentive to those who register their business with the Village. They Village needs to have a database, and the simpler they make it the better for all involved. There can be a lot of drawbacks to the square footage approach for fees. As for enforcement, that should be pursued at a later date. He thinks the object is to keep it simple.
The Mayor asked what data is collected now. Mr. Baker said there is a variety of information collected, much of which comes through Fire Prevention. The Manager said it is inconsistent. Mayor Krajewski said it appears that someone is already gathering some information. He agrees this should be done in the simplest way possible and agrees that fees should not be based on square footage. He wants to know who is doing business in Downers Grove for code enforcement purposes.
Mayor Krajewski then asked about the difficulties with administrative hearings. Attorney Perez said that they cannot issue a warrant to a company, it must be issued to an individual.
Commissioner Durkin clarified that the examples he gave regarding home businesses and using dangerous materials were not illegal activities. In keeping with the 175th anniversary theme, he suggested charging $17.50 for every business license across the board.
Tom Sisul , on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, said that the Chamber has considered this business license issue for some time. The Chamber basically supports the concept. He noted that there is a need for a better idea of who is in the community. The problem is how to balance this. Currently buildings should be inspected every time a business changes hands. Mr. Sisul said that there could be privacy issues involved here that have to be considered. The important thing is to create something to improve and maintain the good business climate in the Village. Mr. Sisul said the Chamber wants to support this, and asked if the Village would share information and copies of the ordinances that the Council receives from other communities.
Steve Hrbek , Highland Oaks, 31st and Highland, commented that he thinks what they are looking for basically is registration, and the businesses in Highland Oaks do provide information to the Fire Department. He said that the building is inspected upon new ownership as well. He agreed that square footage fee-based system that could be discriminatory to larger tenants. Mr. Hrbek commented that they need to look at the competition in Oak Brook, Lombard, Lisle, to determine what local competition is doing. What is important to consider is whether the Village wants to lose businesses to surrounding communities. He noted that the Village has dropped the prices of its building permits, and urged looking at this as a registration program and not as a revenue-generating project.
Amendment to the Auxiliary Police Ordinance. The Manager said this is an update to clarify the definition of auxiliary police utilized in a volunteer capacity within the Village. The amendment clarifies that auxiliary police are not conservators of the peace and are, therefore, not required to attend specific state mandated training programs.
Mayor Krajewski asked if CSO ’s apply under this, and the Manager said that CSO ’s are also not considered conservators of the peace and do not fall under this requirement. They are full-time employees whose duties include taking reports on accidents and handling evidence.
Ordinance Amendment – Disposition of Personal Property Owned by the Village. The Manager said staff is requesting authority to auction items on e-Bay sites to dispose of seized vehicles.
The Mayor said that a resident brought this forward and he extended his thanks.
Increase in Municipal Motor Fuel Tax (aka Gasoline Tax). The Manager said there had been some conversation regarding the feasibility of increasing this tax, and a public hearing is scheduled for December 5. The potential increase could be considered by ordinance to provide funds to support the Transportation Fund to offset operating deficits within that fund from the Commuter Shuttle program.
Commissioner Tully said this was discussed as an option for finding a dedicated revenue source for the continuation of the existing transportation system, pursuant to the grant agreement with PACE to obtain the smaller vehicles. This would provide a dedicated source to keep the transportation system in place to function for at least the next ten years. The grant agreement would cover the new fleet, and the tax increase would be directed to the operating deficits. Commissioner Tully said that this tax would not drive people to other communities for gas purchases as they have surveyed other communities and the gas prices would remain competitive.
Mayor Krajewski asked for a list of the 11 gasoline stations in the Village. He said it would be nice not to have a discussion about the shuttle service for a while, adding that he feels the Village has not adequately addressed the need of the infrastructure and he would rather put additional funds into capital projects
MANAGER ’S REPORT
The Manager explained the notice of proposed property tax increases which the Village was required to publish in the Downers Grove Reporter. She said that the Village is required to show percentages based on 2005 numbers, after Council abated debt payments and other issues, yet needs to compare those to 2006 numbers prior to any abatement. They look like massive increases, but the Village is really decreasing both the levy and the rate this year. The proposed property tax notice is based on a state law requirement. In response to Commissioner Sandack, the Manager said staff will make this explanation available on the website. The Mayor also asked that this be placed in the January newsletter.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Assistant Village Attorney Ann Marie Perez said she was presenting six items to the Council: 1) A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and the Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority (Metra); 2) A resolution authorizing execution of an Access Agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and Met-Coil Systems, LLC ; 3) An ordinance amending the method of disposition of surplus personal property owned by the Village; 4) An ordinance amending the Auxiliary Police Ordinance; 5) An ordinance authorizing the acquisition of property known as the Belmont/Burlington Grade Separation and Transportation Safety Project/Graf/Keytone Parcel; and 6) An ordinance providing for the settlement and closing of the property known as the Belmont/Burlington Grade Separation and Transportation Safety Project/Graf/Keytone Parcel.
The Mayor asked that the Legal Department contact the attorney for Grad/Keystone to notify them that this is on the Agenda.
Commissioner Schnell asked whether the Metra agreement can be moved to the Active Agenda, and the Manger said it would be moved to the Active Agenda.
Commissioner Sandack said the parade was great and Mike Baker almost won the Bonfield Express.
Commissioner Waldack agreed that the Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony were wonderful, and he thanked staff, the residents and the businesses for their participation. He encouraged everyone to shop in Downers Grove.
Commissioner Schnell extended her thanks to the groups that made the ornaments for the Village tree. It looks spectacular.
Commissioner Durkin thanked those who put the parade on saying it was great fun. He thanked the Hansen Family for donating the tree.
Commissioner Urban said that it was great and beautiful day with a great turnout that provided a hometown atmosphere.
Commissioner Tully added his feelings that the parade was wonderful, a coming together of the community that was great to see. It was a hometown feeling. He noted that there are 26 shopping days to Christmas. The Commissioner thanked the Manager and staff for the information on the property tax increase notice, because the notice does not reflect the real Village story.
Commissioner Tully reminded everyone that the Downers Grove Noon Lions Club will have their Wine Tasting and Auction on December 3 from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Emmett’s. The Mayor expressed his surprise at having received Ticket #1 for the event.
The Mayor said that at the DuPage Children’s Museum event, several of the Comcast staff were present and commented to the Mayor about the size and turnout for the Village’s Hospitality Day parade. He thanked the Hansen Family for donating their tree which was planted in 1984 when it was two feet tall, and he also thanked all the organizations who made the 1086 ornaments
There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 8:37 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk tmh