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November 08, 2011

1. Call to Order

Mayor Martin Tully called the regular meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Downers Grove Village Hall.  

Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag

Mayor Tully led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

2. Roll Call

Present: Commissioner Marilyn Schnell, Commissioner Bob Barnett, Commissioner William Waldack, Commissioner Sean P. Durkin, Commissioner Becky Rheintgen, Commissioner Geoff Neustadt and Mayor Martin Tully  Non Voting: Village Manager David Fieldman, Village Attorney Enza Petrarca and Village Clerk April Holden  T he Council meeting is broadcast over the local FM radio station, WDGC.  In addition, a tape recording and videotape of the meeting are being made using Village owned equipment.  The videotape of the meeting will be used for later rebroadcast of the Council meeting over the Village cable television Channel 6.   The Council will follow the rules of conduct for this meeting as provided in Sec. 2.5 of the Downers Grove Municipal Code.  These offer the public the opportunity to comment at several points in the meeting.  First, immediately following approval of the minutes of the past meetings, an opportunity will be given for public comments and questions of a general matter.  If a public hearing is scheduled for this meeting, an opportunity is given for public comments and questions related to the subject of the hearing.  Finally, an opportunity is given for public comments and questions on items appearing on the Consent Agenda, the Active Agenda and the First Reading.

The presiding officer will ask, at the appropriate time, if there are any comments from the public.  If anyone wishes to speak, the individual should raise their hand to be recognized and, after acknowledgment from the presiding officer, approach the microphone and state their name and address.  Remarks should be limited to five minutes, and asked that individuals refrain from making repetitive statements.

Mayor Tully said there are agendas located on either side of the Council Chambers, and he invited the audience to pick up an agenda and follow the progress of the Council meeting.

3. Minutes of Council Meetings

Council Minutes - November 1, 2011 M ayor Tully asked for a Motion to approve the minutes as submitted.

Commissioner Schnell moved to approve the minutes as presented.  Commissioner Durkin seconded the motion.

The Mayor declared the Motion carried by voice vote.

4. Public Comments - General Comments on Matters Not Appearing on Tonight's Agenda

George Swimmer, 4905 Main Street, noted the opening of the Belmont underpass and thanked this and prior Councils for their work to achieve this.  He added that it has been a long struggle.

Mr. Swimmer then thanked the Downers Grove Police Department and Auxiliary officers for their help with the Lions 5K and the Thanksgiving parade.

Mr. Swimmer addressed the issue of train safety, and train-warning devices.  In Downers Grove, the BNSF has had a second train-warning device for at least 15 years, but people don't know about it.  It is sounded by chimes.  On Saturday, people began to cross when the gates were down, although there were trains coming.  He noted that along the Union Pacific lines trains could not enter a station if there was another train there.  Now they are allowed to do so at some of the crossings; however, there are multiple warnings resulting in safer conditions.  Mr. Swimmer urged people to contact Warren Buffett who has controlling interest in the BNSF.

Mr. Swimmer then commented about the opening of the Belmont underpass, saying that we need grade separations at Washington and at Main Street.  It would be cost effective.  There were plans to do this many years ago.  He said they would not have to acquire property as it is dedicated to the BNSF.  Most of the structure could be brought in prefabricated.  He thought if discussions began now on this idea it could probably be finished in six to eight years.  Crossings are dangerous and there are many more trains today.  A grade separation would reduce congestion and improve safety. This would also benefit the general public, since Good Samaritan Hospital serves so many communities.

Mr. Swimmer noted his comments about six months ago that the Village's pedestrian crossings are not well lit and are dangerous.  He urged the Council to look into this.

Mayor Tully said that Mr. Swimmer has been a passionate vocal advocate for railway safety for many years.  He said that it is important to have the vision to think about future work, and to look at the resources.

Barbara Messler, 6245 Leonard, said she was present to discuss sidewalks.  There are only four north/south streets in her area, and three of them have sidewalks.  Leonard does not have a sidewalk.  There are two concerns.  There is a disabled person who comes down the street with a motorized vehicle and can navigate fairly well.  However, there is another man who lives on 63rd street who is handicapped and does walking therapy.  She said that the walk is difficult for him.  Ms. Messler noted that the Village promised a sidewalk for their street, which is only three blocks long, for more than two years and asked that they consider this request.

Village Manager Dave Fieldman informed Ms. Messler that her street has been funded and the sidewalk will be constructed in the summer of 2012.

5. Public Hearings

6. Consent Agenda

BIL 00-04694 A.  List of Bills Payable:  No. 5942, November 8, 2011

Sponsors: Accounting A motion was made to Approve this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: N/A

MOT 00-04700 B.  Motion:  Award $17,100 to Lyons Electric Company, Inc., LaGrange, IL, for 75th Street Streetlight Removal and Storage Project

Sponsors: Public Works C ommissioner Waldack said they will be taking the lights down in late fall, but construction will not begin until the spring.  He noted that this could be seven or eight months before it is necessary to take the lights down.  The Manager said they will try to minimize the times that the lights are not operational.

Commissioner Durkin agreed with Commissioner Waldack's comment.   A motion was made to Award this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Street Lights - Maintenance

Passed The Consent Agenda

A motion was made by Commissioner Schnell, seconded by Commissioner Durkin, that the consent agenda be passed. The motion carried by the following vote: Votes: Y ea: Commissioner Schnell, Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Waldack, Commissioner Durkin, Commissioner Rheintgen, Commissioner Neustadt and Mayor Tully

7. Active Agenda

ORD 00-04695 A.  Ordinance:  Adopt the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget in Lieu of Passage of an Appropriation Ordinance

Sponsors: Finance

Summary of Item: This adopts the fiscal year 2012 budget in lieu of an appropriation ordinance.  As provided by

law, proper notice has been given, the budget has been available for inspection for at least ten

days, and a public hearing was held on November 1, 2011.

 

AN ORDINANCE ADOPTING THE FISCAL YEAR 2012 BUDGET IN LIEU OF PASSAGE OF AN APPROPRIATION ORDINANCE

 

ORDINANCE NO. 5232 C ommissioner Neustadt commented that for the last few years during the budget meetings and approval process he has expressed a wish to include, improve, or cut items.  This year with a lot of help from Village staff the Village is living within its means and has a balanced budget with municipal services provided for as well as infrastructure maintenance and improvements.  Commissioner Neustadt noted that this year the budget process was easier and had better flow, which was a big difference from previous years.  He thanked all of the Village residents for their input, his Council colleagues for their thoughtful and important commentary and extended a special thanks to Village staff for adapting and listening to the Council comments and questions, He said he would be supporting this budget tonight.

Commissioner Waldack said everyone has given a lot of thought to this budget, what it means to the community and whether it reflects what the community wants and needs as well as the priorities, and whether the budget is fair now and in the future.  He said no one takes this decision lightly.  He said that the headlines on this will be that there is a property tax reduction.  The Council should not take credit or blame for that because it is a line on the tax bill which the Council cannot control.  Staff has provided a balanced budget, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good budget.  The budget is not necessarily the controlling document.  This budget reflects the Long Range Financial Plan for 2012-2014.  The spending priorities are in the details of the budget, the make up of the Council, the need for additional revenue, and a plan to increase debt.  The Commissioner made reference to the water fund increase, many choices that were driven by the Long Range Financial Plan, and unprecedented borrowing for infrastructure.  While many governmental entities and families are trying to reduce debt, the Long Range Financial Plan calls for increased debt.   He said that the Village has not kept up with its infrastructure for years, and taxes will be kept artificially low by borrowing money to get it done and extending payments into the future.  If the Village borrows $25 million as planned, the interest can come to about $15 million.  To stay within our means does not mean using our credit card.  He noted that the Village is not debt free.   Many good services for our community have been cut on the guise that they were not financially sustainable, yet we have a budget that will need to increase revenue.  Commissioner Waldack said that the Village raised property taxes by $500,000 for each of the last two years, and no one was happy about that.  The plan is to pay a financial institution an average of $500,000 over a 30 year period. With regard to priorities, when they mistakenly thought there was extra money, Council was talking about spending that money while still increasing fees and revenue enhancements in order to borrow $25 million.  The Commissioner said the financial future of our residents may become more difficult.  The Village has revenue options residents do not have.  They cannot ask their bosses for a raise.  It is a matter of priorities and he will not support this budget.

Mayor Tully said it is difficult to summarize the process that goes into creating the budget.  There have been a series of budget related meetings that included detailed discussion.  He cautioned against drawing conclusions from sound bites and snippets of information.  The Mayor said the budget involves making many choices and compromises.  The Council is a reflection of the diversity within the community in terms of differing views, opinions, values, and priorities.  The budget is never perfect and will not please everyone.  He noted that he attended a meeting where Mayor Emanuel of Chicago spoke to the Executive Club of Chicago about his budget cuts.  He reduced the City's deficit from $600 million to $200 million, but they still have a deficit of $200 million.  The Village has a balanced budget.  It is a good consensus document, and is the product of the Long Range Financial Plan that began several years ago.  It is a dynamic document.   He noted that the Village has to have a budget each year.  There is some debt that was planned for long ago.  There is a great need for street work, as well as other obligations.  There are many differences of opinion.  Mayor Tully commended the staff for their work.  He noted that they had a surprise with regard to the water rate increases, over which the Village has limited control.  The budget was also adjusted to provide additional funding for sidewalks.  He noted that sidewalks have been a goal for more than two decades.  Some things that were not funded in this budget have been construed by some to demonstrate a lack of support by the Council for a particular need or cause or program.  He said that he didn't think that was the proper way to frame the debate.  He doesn't think there is debate as to the worthiness of those projects.   The debate throughout has not been lack of support, but how to support those projects and from what sources.    A motion was made by Commissioner Schnell, seconded by Commissioner Durkin, to Adopt this file.  Mayor declared the motion carried by the following vote: Votes: Y ea: Commissioner Schnell, Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Durkin, Commissioner Rheintgen, Commissioner Neustadt and Mayor Tully  Nay: Commissioner Waldack  Indexes: Budget - 2012

ORD 00-04693 B.  Ordinance:  Amend Provisions for the Extension of Liquor Serving Hours

Sponsors: Liquor Commission

Summary of Item: This amends provisions for the extension of liquor serving hours.

 

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING PROVISIONS FOR THE EXTENSION OF LIQUOR SERVING HOURS

 

ORDINANCE NO. 5233 Mayor Tully commented that this ordinance allows for an extra hour of service for specific dates.  A motion was made by Commissioner Durkin, seconded by Commissioner Neustadt, to Adopt this file. Mayor declared the motion carried by the following vote: Votes: Y ea: Commissioner Schnell, Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Waldack, Commissioner Durkin, Commissioner Rheintgen, Commissioner Neustadt and Mayor Tully  Indexes: Liquor Ordinance Amendments

ORD 00-04692 C.  Ordinance:  Prohibit Overweight Trucks on Certain Streets

Sponsors: Public Works

Summary of Item: This prohibits overweight trucks on portions of Janet Street and Lacey Road.

 

AN ORDINANCE PROHIBITING OVERWEIGHT TRUCKS ON CERTAIN STREETS

 

ORDINANCE NO. 5234 C ommissioner Durkin said he spoke with Deputy Village Manager Mike Baker and Village Manager Dave Fieldman earlier in the day about the enforcement and fines regarding this ordinance.  The fees have declined which is a major concern to him, and he encouraged staff to enforce this law. He will support this ordinance.

Commissioner Rheintgen said that she drove the area and understands the residents' concerns.   A motion was made by Commissioner Rheintgen, seconded by Commissioner Barnett, to Adopt this file.  Mayor declared the motion carried by the following vote: Votes: Y ea: Commissioner Schnell, Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Waldack, Commissioner Durkin, Commissioner Rheintgen, Commissioner Neustadt and Mayor Tully  Indexes: Oversize/Overweight Vehicles

8. First Reading

MOT 00-04697 A.  Motion:  Estimate 2011 Aggregate Tax Levy for the Village of Downers Grove

Sponsors: Finance D eputy Village Manager Mike Baker presented information regarding the tax levy that is on next week's Active Agenda.  He said a Public Hearing is scheduled for December 6, with adoption of the tax levy to be considered on December 13.  Mr. Baker presented the key points, noting that the 2012 budget reflects a reduction in the Village's property tax levy.  The tax levy is consistent with the budget.  The action being discussed sets the maximum levy to be considered; recommended abatements will result in a lower net tax.  Mr. Baker then showed a table for the 2011 tax levy that displayed figures before abatements and after abatements.  The total, not including the library, is just under $13 million after abatements.

Mayor Tully commented that the concept of abatements is difficult to follow.  Due to the availability of other sources of revenue, less tax is collected.  Indexes: Tax Levy - 2011

MOT 00-04701 B.  Motion:  Continue Exploring Creation of a Stormwater Utility

Sponsors: Manager's Office M r. Fieldman said this has been under discussion for a decade.  Since August of this year, however, four meetings were held in which the Village's consultant, Municipal and Financial Services Group (MFSG), explained the proposed stormwater utility, with a recommendation that the Village continue to pursue creating the stormwater utility.  This motion directs staff to continue looking at the possibility of the stormwater utility.  This would allow for input and feedback from the major stakeholders and the public.  He indicated that staff is looking to come back in February or March with a report of the public education meetings, detailed answers to concerns raised over the past few months, and a recommendation and final report.  He said that Village's consultant, MSFG, will participate in this process. A yes vote for this motion means that the Village will continue to consider this.

Commissioner Neustadt said that the Council must be clear that this item is not a final approval but rather a further investigation of this program.  We have heard from many residents businesses and organizations already and their questions are similar to those of the Council--credits, amount of the fee, administration of the utility, can the fee be a tax deduction--all these questions will be investigated and looked into before the Council even considers further action on a stormwater utility.  Commissioner Neustadt said that he supports this item and looks forward to finding out more information as the policy question grows.

Commissioner Waldack commented that he is still looking forward to a pay-as-you-go scenario.  He will be in favor of looking into this further.

Commissioner Rheintgen asked how staff plans to get the word out to the public.  Mr. Fieldman responded we will have a better understanding of that in the next week or so.

Commissioner Schnell commented that as important as it was for MSFG to educate the Council, it is more important to educate the public through communication.  She encouraged people to become educated about this and its implications.  This is important and everyone needs to understand what the Village is doing and why.  She is concerned about the timeframe.

Commissioner Durkin said staff should be sure that they obtain feedback from the Chamber of Commerce, the EDC, the Downtown Management Corporation, and the schools.  He wants to know whether they support this or not.  He expressed concern that the schools will add this fee to their taxes to the residents.  He said he couldn't emphasize enough how important it is to have those partnerships express their concerns.

Mayor Tully said he favors continuing to pursue this, particularly because of the public education component.  He explained that this motion is not to implement the stormwater utility, but is direction to staff to continue to explore it specific to the Village of Downers Grove.  The Village has stormwater needs that have to be paid for.  Doing nothing is not an option, and the Village needs options, and needs to be able to explain those options to the residents.  The current method has some inequities, and is not enough to meet the Village's needs.

Tom LeCren, 545 Chicago, expressed concern that sump pump discharge has been totally ignored.  He said he has made these comments before.  The Village does not treat all residents the same with respect to sump pump discharge.  He asked why they are not considering this.  Mr. LeCren said some residents can direct the sump pump directly to the storm sewer if you live within a certain distance of the storm sewer.  He supports continuing the process, but asked again why the sump pumps are being ignored.  He commented that it is presumed that all rainwater ends up in a storm sewer, which is false.    Indexes: Stormwater Utility

9. Mayor's Report

ComEd Reliability Report

Mayor Tully said that ComEd has indicated they have completed the field review for tree trimming. Their plan should be completed in the next few weeks and then submitted to the Village for review.  He said ComEd will notify residents of the tree trimming.

Mr. Fieldman added that ComEd is continuing normal maintenance on the scheduled trimming.  He explained that enhanced tree trimming will take place next year.  Staff thinks that ComEd could communicate a little better with the residents.  With regard to tracking information with the residents, Mr. Fieldman said he thinks that all residents with comments and/or questions have been contacted.    

Materials to be Placed on File

10. Manager's Report

11. Attorney's Report

Future Active Agenda

12. Council Member Reports and New Business

Commissioner Durkin announced that Downers Grove South is playing against Bolingbrook in the football quarterfinals at Bolingbrook on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.  He wished them the very best and hopes a good crowd attends to cheer for Downers Grove South.

The Commissioner then announced the Chamber luncheon to be held tomorrow.  The Executive Director of the Illinois Tollway Authority, Kristi Lafleur, is the guest speaker.  This is a multi-Chamber event and the public is invited to attend.

Commissioner Schnell said that she and Mayor Tully will attend the National League of Cities conference in Phoenix, Arizona tomorrow, and they hope to bring back a good deal of helpful information.  They will also tour Midwestern University's campus in Glendale, Arizona and see their dental facility.

Commissioner Neustadt announced that there will be a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.  It will be broadcast on all media.  He said more information is at the Village's website at www.downers.us.

Commissioner Waldack said he asked the Village Manager to distribute to Council the recommendations of the Human Services Commission (HSC).  The Manager provided a link to an email.  Commissioner Waldack asked that this information be available to the public as well.  He noted that about a year ago during budget discussions about Meals on Wheels, the liaison to the Human Services Commission thought about leveraging Village resources such as putting requests for charities on the water bill and rotating requests.  The plan was studied for months and the HSC rejected it and prepared a list of recommendations last April.  He does not know why those recommendations never came before the Council.  He said he would hate to see the work that was done go to waste.  Now there may be substitutions made to the make up of the HSC.  The original plan was deliberated and rejected.  He is concerned for the work and effort provided by the current members.  He thinks the recommendations could be supported by those who oppose government dealings with charities, and those who want to avoid the opportunity, or even appearance, of abuse by mixing the political process with charitable causes.  He recommended that the Council fully review, discuss and consider the HSC recommendations, and that any changes to the make up of the HSC be delayed should the plan or any part of it be remanded to the HSC.  By replacing those who actively participated in the process and discussion, there would be a lack of consistency and loss of institutional knowledge that cannot be reconstructed merely by reviewing agendas and minutes.  He asked for the Council's consideration and asked Council members to review the HSC recommendations.

Mayor Tully said there has been some discusion to try to achieve some closure on open issues with respect to Board appointments.  He would hate to politicize the appointment process and he would like the HSC to be fully staffed.  He noted that the meetings are open to the public and anyone can attend them.  The Mayor said they should give this the treatment it deserves and not bog it down in budget discussions.  He would like to see the issues discussed in a way to achieve the same goals, and less of the elements that have rightfully or wrongfully been identified as controversial.  He would like to see this brought up after the New Year.

Commissioner Waldack said they should have the recommendations before starting the process.

The Mayor then announced that on November 12 there are three organizations hosting events.  The Diveheart Foundation luau, the Indian Boundary YMCA Dance like a Star fundraiser, and Good Samaritan's annual festival. He encouraged people to attend these events.  

13. Adjournment

Commissioner Schnell moved to adjourn.  Commissioner Durkin seconded the Motion.

VOTE:  YEA - Commissioners Schnell, Durkin, Rheintgen,  Barnett, Neustadt, Waldack, Mayor Tully

Mayor Tully declared the motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.