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 Bob Barnett, Commissioner Sean P. Durkin, Commissioner Becky Rheintgen, Commissioner Geoff Neustadt, Commissioner Greg Hosé, Commissioner David S. Olsen 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
Executive Session Minutes for Release - July 1, 2014 Council Meeting - September 16, 2014 M ayor Tully asked for a Motion to approve the minutes as submitted.
Commissioner Neustadt moved to approve the minutes as presented. Commissioner Durkin seconded the motion.
The Mayor declared the Motion carried by voice vote.
Mayor Tully read a proclamation designating October 5-11, 2014, as Fire Prevention Week in the Village of Downers Grove. He presented the proclamation to Fire Chief Jim Jackson, Public Information Officer Marsha Giesler, and Deputy Fire Chief Matt Daly.
Ms. Giesler announced two events in recognition of National Fire Prevention Week. The Fire Department will host a "Night at the Firehouse" on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Fire Station 5. On Friday, October 10, 2014, the 20th Annual Silent Parade will be held as a tribute to fallen firefighters and others who have lost their lives to fire. The parade will begin in Hinsdale and will go to Lisle continuously down Maple Avenue.
Mayor Tully then presented a Green Business Award to Tivoli Enterprises, Inc. The Mayor said the Environmental Concerns Commission identifies and chooses businesses in Downers Grove to receive these awards in recognition of their efforts to become environmentally sustainable. He read the proclamation and presented it to Willis Johnson, president of Tivoli Enterprises.
Mr. Johnson said it was a labor of love leading to this proclamation. He is very proud of it and of what his company does with their buildings. They will display the proclamation with pride.
4. Public Comments - General Comments on Matters Not Appearing on Tonight's Agenda
Bill Wrobel, 7800 Queens Court, said he visited a Village parking lot and observed a municipal dump behind Anderson's Bookshop. He shared this information with photographs via e-mail with Council and received information from Council members and the Village Manager. Mr. Wrobel said the containers were overflowing. They are the responsibility of the businesses. Several years ago an effort was made for an enclosure, but that never happened. He believes some of the businesses are not responsible citizens. He noted that their receptacles are on public property. The library has recently been refurbished and is a site for many visitors. Mr. Wrobel said something needs to be done about this situation. He suggested bigger receptacles or twice weekly pick-ups. He asked Council to give the Manager authority to act.
Mayor Tully thanked Mr. Wrobel for his comments. Regarding the dumpster enclosure, he asked Commissioner Barnett to respond.
Commissioner Barnett said there are three places in Downers Grove with similar conditions. He referenced the dumpster enclosure at the parking deck. The problem Mr. Wrobel mentioned has been going on for some time. Working with all the relevant parties proved to be more complicated than he thought it would be and it the dumpster was not used effectively. It has been used more effectively in the last few months. The process took three years and has made Council wary of doing this again in terms of the investment. He said tickets could be issued, but Council and staff try to work through teamwork and inclusion. He indicated that it is a frustrating situation, and the logical next step is to appeal to the businesses that use the receptacles to do a better job; however, that has not worked in the past.
Scott Oberle, Paster, First Congregational United Church of Christ, said 17 of 22 communities of faith have signed a letter regarding the stormwater utility. He read the letter regarding imposition of stormwater fees on faith-based organizations. Churches object at Council looking at them as "land parcels." As the Village has made cuts to programs, churches have filled the gaps and the number of residents utilizing services are growing. Increases to the fee over the next 15 years will have a significant impact on the ability of churches to minister in this community. This fee penalizes people of faith as they are being double burdened by this fee. Additionally this is a breach of the separation of church and state, and churches are left wondering what will follow in terms of services for which they will have to pay. The churches believe the Council is making an error. He asked Council to make the change to exempt faith-based organizations.
Theresa Kulat, 4440 Saratoga and 5116 Forest Avenue, said she was presenting three topics: 1) She expressed appreciation for the 15-minute parking spaces downtown; 2) She provided updated information on the possible designation of Maple Avenue as an historic district in the Village, and the efforts being taken to save the Edwards historic home. She spoke of a meeting held on September 30 regarding the Maple Avenue historic district. Doug Gilbert specializes in preservation of historic homes and was part of the team that did a survey of historic homes in Downers Grove last year. He spoke at the meeting and met with people. There will be a second meeting on October 8, 2014. People have raised concerns about traffic congestion, stormwater and the tree canopy. The third item she raised concerns the relocation of the Police Department to Ogden and Lacey. She asked the Council to be mindful of the trees on the property when building the facility.
Bob Peterson, 6861 Camden Road, said he is here to try to keep his business. He owns Leibundguth Moving and Storage. He has a sign facing the railroad and railway traffic impacts his business. Losing this sign will cut his business considerably. Some of the other businesses along the railroad have already noticed a drop in business due to lack of signage. He named several businesses that have already been affected by the Sign Ordinance. He is the only one left with a sign facing the railroad tracks. He does not think he can survive more than one or two years without that signage.
Gerry Figliulo, 1454 Arrow Wood Lane, said he supports Mr. Peterson. This has nothing to do with safety and he does not understand why this would be an issue. This should be allowed. The Lakota plan of 1999 does not see this sign as an issue.
5. Council Member Reports
Commissioner Neustadt noted sections on our website, "Network with Us," and "Stay Connected." He suggesed that residents look at these links as they are great resources.
Commissioner Durkin reminded everyone of the upcoming budget meeting on Saturday, October 11, 2014, at 8:00 a.m. at Fire Station 2, 5420 Main Street. He invited people to attend and to communicate with the Council. Discussion will include every aspect of the proposed budget.
6. Public Hearings
7. Consent Agenda
COR 00-05701 A. Claim Ordinance: No. 6073, Payroll, September 5, 2014
Sponsors: Accounting A motion was made to Approve this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: N/A
BIL 00-05702 B. List of Bills Payable: No. 6146, October 7, 2014
Sponsors: Accounting A motion was made to Approve this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: N/A
RES 00-05694 C. Resolution: Maintenance of Streets and Highways by Municipality Under the Illinois Highway Code
Sponsors: Public Works
Summary of Item: A RESOLUTION FOR MAINTENANCE OF STREETS AND HIGHWAYS BY MUNICIPALITY UNDER THE ILLINOIS HIGHWAY CODE
RESOLUTION 2014-53 A motion was made to Pass this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Motor Fuel Tax
MOT 00-05695 D. Motion: Authorize the Purchase of Bulk Road Salt from Cargill Incorporated Salt Division, North Olmsted, Ohio, via the State Contract
Sponsors: Public Works A motion was made to Authorize this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Salt
RES 00-05700 E. Resolution: Authorize a Real Estate Contract for the Property Located at 4411 Lee Avenue
Sponsors: Village Attorney
Summary of Item: A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING EXECUTION OF A REAL ESTATE CONTRACT FOR THE PROPERTY LOCATED AT 4411 LEE AVENUE, DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS
RESOLUTION 2014-54 A motion was made to Pass this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Village Property - Acquisition
RES 00-05705 F. Resolution: Authorize a Contract with SNI Solutions, Inc.
Sponsors: Public Works
Summary of Item: A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING EXECUTION OF A CONTRACT BETWEEN THE VILLAGE OF DOWNERS GROVE AND SNI SOLUTIONS, INC.
RESOLUTION 2014-55 A motion was made to Pass this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Public Works - Standard Supplies & Services
BID 00-05706 G. Bid: Award $77,249.24 for the Purchase of Three Vehicles
Sponsors: Public Works A motion was made to Approve this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Vehicle Purchases
MOT 00-05708 H. Motion: Award a Contract for $202,525 to Subsurface Underground Construction, Inc., St. Charles, IL, for Drainage Improvements on Lincoln and Stanley Avenues
Sponsors: Public Works A motion was made to Pass this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Drainage Improvements
MOT 00-05714 I. Motion: Note Receipt of Minutes of Boards and Commissions
Summary of Item: Library Board - August 27, 2014
Zoning Board of Appeals - August 27, 2014 A motion was made to Note Receipt Of this file on the Consent Agenda. Indexes: Boards and Commissions Minutes
Passed The Consent Agenda
A motion was made by Commissioner Neustadt, seconded by Commissioner Durkin, that the consent agenda be passed. The motion carried by the following vote: Votes: Y ea: Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Durkin, Commissioner Rheintgen, Commissioner Neustadt, Commissioner Hosé, Commissioner Olsen and Mayor Tully
8. Active Agenda
9. First Reading
RES 00-05704 B. Resolution: Authorize Amendment No. 1 to a Master Agreement with Aclara Technology, LLC for Meter Reading Services
Sponsors: Public Works N an Newlon, Director, Public Works, said a resolution has been prepared to authorize approval of an agreement for the water meter reading service replacement project with Aclara Technologies, LLC in the amount of $1,854,923.75. This project consists of the replacement of 15,050 meter transmission units (MTU) for the Village's automated water metering system beginning in January 2015. Units were initially installed in 2002 and 2003, and the batteries are beginning to fail leading to more estimated readings. Ms. Newlon showed a slide demonstrating how the system works and what the system looks like. It is a wireless system. Ms. Newlon explained the scope of the work. It will be a year long project with 300 units installed per week. Professional services will be provided by Aclara. This is a multi-departmental project and staff will work closely with the Communications Department to reach out to residents. The Village will oversee the content of all communications. Aclara will have trained personnel to work in the Village. The number of people will be limited, they will wear uniforms and have identification. Only 10-20% of homes will need to be accessed and appointments will be made with the property owners for access.
The Village prepared a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to identify vendors that could meet the Village's needs. Staff has determined that Aclara best meets our needs. Ms. Newlon noted that the pricing structure is competitive.
The Mayor said the tecnology is more advanced than that which is currently in place.
Ms. Newlon said the old units have one battery while the new ones for two and the batteries have been improved.
Commissioner Durkin asked as to the timing.
Dave Fieldman, Village Manager, said the contract will be signed next week. It is tied to multi-year funding and is a planned expense.
Commissioner Durkin asked as to the projected revenue.
Ms. Newlon said staff does not expect an increase in revenue.
Mr. Fieldman said the current system is accuracte. Replacing the units will reduce the number of bills that are estimated.
Mayor Tully added that the existing units have outlived their life span and the new units will last longer due to increases in battery technology.
Commissioner Rheintgen asked about efforts to communicate with the public.
Ms. Newlon said Aclara staff will not go into homes on the first visit.
Commissioner Rheintgen said some companies send pictures of the staff that will be coming into a person's home.
Commissioner Newstadt asked to what extent these units have been in use.
Ms. Newlon said this is a evolving technology. Other communities have this unit. These units are being installed in new homes and staff has not experienced any problems.
10. Mayor's Report
Mayor Tully provided a County stormwater update, noting that he serves on the DuPage County Stormwater Committee. With respect to the floodplain mapping project, it is expected that preliminary floodplain maps will be released in the spring of 2015. The Mayor then said that DuPage County Stormwater Management is sponsoring water improvement grants, and the deadline for those applications is December 19, 2014. Both organizations and individuals are qualified to participate in the application process. Finally, the Mayor noted that the DuPage County survey of stormwater assessment results has been analyzed. The next steps are to acknowledge receipt of the responses. The County will then host a countywide meeting, and a draft program assessment will be prepared. There will be a public comments period, and financing will then be discussed as to the costs involved, and the financing of projects. He added that the Village can make the report available on its website.
Materials to be Place on File
Liquor License Application
Mayor Tully said the Village has received an application for an on-premise beer and wine liquor license from Bogies Indoor Golf Club, LLC d/b/a Bogies Indoor Golf Club located at 2091 W. 63rd Street.
Pursuant to Section 3-12 of the Liquor Control Ordinance, a public hearing for a liquor license application may be waived. The application must be placed on file for a minimum of two weeks, subject to public comment prior to the issuance of a new license.
The Mayor said he was placing this application on file in the Village Clerk's office. Barring any objection, once the two-week waiting period has passed, a liquor license shall be issued to Bogies Indoor Golf Club, LLC d/b/a Bogies Indoor Golf Club located at 2091 W. 63rd Street.
RES 00-05703 Resolution: Appoint Members to Boards and Commissions
Summary of Item: This appoints Timothy Carter to the Transportation and Parking Commission.
A RESOLUTION APPOINTING TIMOTHY CARTER TO THE TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING COMMISSION
RESOLUITON 2014-56 The Mayor asked the Village Clerk to read the resolution. A motion was made by Commissioner Neustadt, seconded by Commissioner Durkin, to Adopt this file. Mayor declared the motion carried by the following vote: Votes: Y ea: Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Durkin, Commissioner Rheintgen, Commissioner Neustadt, Commissioner Hosé, Commissioner Olsen and Mayor Tully Indexes: Boards and Commissions
11. Manager's Report
12. Attorney's Report
Future Active Agenda
13. Council Member New Business
INF 00-05711 A. Sign Ordinance Text Amendment C ommissioner Olsen said that this item has been discussed previously, and the purpose now is to begin a process to refer to the Plan Commission a proposed text amendment allowing businesses to have signs facing the railroad right-of-way.
Commissioner Olsen moved to direct the Plan Commission to consider a text amendment to the Sign Ordinance as it relates to signs along the Burlington Northern right-of-way. Commissioner Durkin seconded the Motion.
Commissioner Durkin said that after reviewing this, and attempting to understand this better, he would like the Plan Commission to review this because the Zoning Ordinance permits wall signs along a public roadway or drivable right-of-way. Currently the BNSF is not recognized as a drivable right-of-way. He would like this to be reviewed by the Plan Commission.
Mayor Tully said that he doesn't see the distinction between signs facing a public right-of-way or a railroad right-of-way. This directs the Plan Commission to consider a text amendment and he would support it.
Commissioner Neustadt said that this text amendment will not help the petitioner who has requested a review. The Village has had a process in place for nine years where a business could have brought its signage into compliance or requested a variation. Staff has worked with businesses to help them comply with the Ordinance. There are options out there and this text amendment will not help Leibundguth Moving.
Mayor Tully said that this might not relate to this particular sign, but a text amendment may permit another type of sign. This would demonstrate the Village's flexibility with relation to the Sign Ordinance. This Motion is simply to refer it to the Plan Commission for further discussion.
Commissioner Olsen said he agrees with the Mayor. This sends a message to the business community. He appreciates the business owners coming to the Council for assistance. He also agrees with Commissioner Hosé to look at the Sign Ordinance more comprehensively. At this time, this would be a minor change.
Commissioner Barnett asked whether any businesses along the railroad track have been before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Mr. Fieldman said they have not.
Commissioner Barnett said that one of the problems is that the current process is to go through the Zoning Board of Appeals. He is not a fan of the Zoning Board of Appeals; however, it is the process that the Village follows. He asked whether this is a direction to suspend enforcement. He wants clarification because this feels like they are short-circuiting the process.
Mayor Tully said this is a narrow change, and he does not see it as a reason to suspend enforcement. This request concerns a railroad right-of-way, and not a vehicular right-of-way. He doesn't really know what the difference is.
Commissioner Olsen said that one difference that was discussed is the distraction factor along vehicular rights-of-way that does not apply along railroad rights-of-way.
Commissioner Hosé commented that if the Council agrees to look at the Sign Ordinance, they should take a more comprehensive look at it. Leibundguth's is not the only business to come before the Council over the past nine years. The composition of the Council was different in 2005, and members may have differing opinions now. Commissioner Hosé said if the Village is going to change the Sign Ordinance, they should consider a holistic approach and consider changes on a larger scale.
Commissioner Rheintgen said she understands Mr. Peterson's need for advertising, but she does not think it's fair to allow pursuit under another avenue. The Village must be consistent. She thinks it would have been better for Mr. Peterson to go through the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Commissioner Neustadt noted that there are 2,250 signs in the Village, 2,121 of which have been brought into compliance. Fifty-seven of 129 sign-owners have made no attempt to comply with the Sign Ordinance. Seventy-two applications/permits are under review at this time. He noted again that the Village has had a process for many years, and this is not a new issue. He indicated that the Village's efforts to communicate with businesses has been very strong. He noted that 94% compliance is huge in municipal government. Those who followed the rules will see the rules change and protest that change.
Commissioner Olsen replied that regarding compliance, every property that has complied doesn't mean that they agree with the Ordinance. They may desire to advertise in different ways. It is admirable that people have complied, but the idea to be able to change the Ordinance and be flexible is good. He is concerned that the Sign Ordinance is limiting businesses that want to stay or want to come into the Village.
Commissioner Durkin said it is important that people understand what the proposed amendment means. It would still require the petitioner to correct the violation. This amendment does not allow the petitioner to keep his sign.
Commissioner Barnett voiced his support for Commissioner Hosé's idea. Fair is not equal and the process is very important. He would be glad to review the Sign Ordinance.
Commissioner Hosé commented that there are businesses that have had issues with the Sign Ordinance. This is why the Village needs to take a comprehensive look at it. He thinks that the Village would end up with a better product.
The Mayor called for a roll call vote:
VOTE: AYE: Commissioner Olsen, Commissioner Durkin; Mayor Tully NAY: Commissioner Hosé, Commissioner Rheintgen, Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Neustadt
The Mayor declared the Motion failed 4:3.
INF 00-05712 B. Potential Changes to the Structure of the Stormwater Utility C ommissioner Barnett said he brought this up at the September 9 meeting.
Commission Barnett made a motion that the Council consider restructuring the stormwater utility to exempt property tax-exempt parcels from paying stormwater utility fees. Commissioner Durkin seconded the Motion.
Commissioner Neustadt said the stormwater utility (SWU) was implemented in 2013 and it has been successful. When this was first discussed, it was new and the intent was to have a fair and equal stormwater utility for the entire Village. He now feels that the Village can continue the stormwater utility with exempting the property tax-exempt parcels. It will be a loss of $218,000; however, he feels the rate as established is appropriate and would not recommend increasing the fee for the remaining residents. The Commissioner said that experience shows that the stormwater utility works, but it does create a burden for tax-exempt properties. He said the Village would continue to work with users on best management practices. He will support the Motion to exempt property tax-exempt parcels. He understands that at any time this can be reviewed again and perhaps be reinstated. This is a change from his previous decision. He appreciates all the community service that has been offered by the tax-exempt parcels and he appreciates the appropriate and kind commentary from the not-for-profit organizations.
Commissioner Hosé said that he is sympathetic to the faith communities. He is concerned about the reduction in revenue, and whether they should classify property on the activity that takes place on the property as opposed to the property itself. He is not sure Council should be subsidizing stormwater expenses. He noted that this is a loss of $10 million due to the loss of bonding authority. Many local drainage improvement projects will not be completed. This may not be the right way to help. He reviewed several projects that would be affected by this loss of bonding authority. He would consider freezing fees or only increasing them periodically. A lot of these parcels are big users of the stormwater system in terms of large buildings, large parking lots, etc., and they contribute in some way to the stormwater runoff. He thinks they have to recognize the fact that not-for-profits are also users of the system. It is not a matter of double paying because what ends up happening is that everyone will be paying more. It's a complex issue; however, he would rather see them seek a way to address the issue. Commissioner Hosé said that they either raise fees or continue to have flooding in neighborhoods that will need to be addressed.
Commissioner Rheintgen said that she would support this if it indeed reduced this year's stormwater fees by the amount that would be changed, instead of asking other payers to pay increased fees. They have heard from churches and how it impacts them. She proposed a reduced rate previously. In terms of community value, there are churches on the list that would be asking their memberships to contribute more to pay for the stormwater fee. There are also school districts and park districts that are probably going to be increasing their taxes to cover the fees. She thinks this is fair and she will support Commissioner Barnett's proposal.
Commissioner Olsen thanked members of the faith community and not-for-profit community for spending their time on this. He believes they should think of two choices - a utility fee or a tax-based system. He is not in favor of this proposal or utility. He would prefer to go back to a tax-based system, and thinks that the tax-based system worked. It may be time to get away from the utility fee. His position has evolved over time, and he would like to see a move back to the tax-based system. Commissioner Olsen said he would not support this proposal.
Commissioner Durkin asked how much bigger the list of exempted parcels would be if they went back to a tax-based system.
Mr. Fieldman said it would be the same list. The shift would be back to residents from businesses.
Commissioner Durkin commented that he supports moving to exempt tax-exempt properties. He asked if there is a way that this waiver could be only for places of worship. Commissioner Durkin said he feels that he made a mistake when this was originally voted on, as he didn't fully appreciate it. He voted to remove certain social service projects and didn't fully appreciate the impact that would have. He would like more discussion from staff and supports removing faith-based organizations.
Mr. Fieldman replied that the Council could choose those to exempt. It is cleaner and more predictable to go with all tax-exempt organizations.
Mayor Tully stated that he is surprised by the change of heart among some of the Council. He said that they have a tax-exempt list before them, which includes a lot of people that have nothing to do with worship. That would amount to $218,000 next year, but a significant impact overall. He said that they have been hearing from 22 parcels, which comes to about $37,000, which represents a lot of money to the faith community. St. Mary's would be impacted by $3,500. Some would be less. His concern is that this is a sledgehammer approach and may not be necessary. To exempt so many parcels essentially scuttles the entire program, eliminates the Village's ability to finish projects and to get bonding, and will substantially reduce the Village's ability to get things done. He is concerned about that. He agrees that they need to have a conversation about what is being exempted. He asked the Council to think about that because that might result in the Village losing its ability to get bonding and finish projects. He asked that the Council not undermine the promise they made to the community to address stormwater problems. This should be more tailored. He does not think they should do this tonight. If this is the direction the Council wants to go, he will support it. He said that the community at large is not aware of this potential change. He believes they need more discussion. He thinks it may be appropriate for a non-binding referendum.
Commissioner Olsen asked whether it would be appropriate to bring this into the budget discussion on Saturday. Mayor Tully replied that there is an impact if they make this change. It would be a disservice to the community to effectuate this tonight.
Mr. Fieldman said that if the Motion passes in the affirmative, staff would make three changes. They would change the FY15 budget information. They would change the multi-year stormwater utility revenue and expenses plan. Staff would prepare an Ordinance for Council's consideration at a later date to change the structure of the stormwater utility.
The Mayor said he appreciated Mr. Fieldman's explanation of what has to be done if this is approved.
Commissioner Hosé said it is important also to understand what the Motion they have before them really means. This puts the Council in an odd position to determine what is a faith-based organization. He is not sure he is comfortable with that. He asked to postpone this at least until the budget meeting.
Commissioner Barnett responded that schools and parks were exempted immediately, which equaled 30% of the participants. That could also be reviewed. He said that in 2007 the Village did a study resulting in bonds for $38,000,000 and has spent $20,000,000. He said they saw budgets change, projects change, and saw changes caused by flooding. He does not think it is accurate to say a project cannot be done. He said that they know from the long-range planning what the costs would be. What this does, fundamentally, is to restore the basic premise that certain entities provide values to the community that government doesn't have to provide. Those entities are exempt from many taxes, not just a stormwater tax in Downers Grove. This is a very real cost and a tax. They do not pay many taxes because their value to community is recognized. The best way to fund this was to find a way to not raise people's taxes. This is a very real cost and a very real tax. If it is a tax, the Village should stay consistent with respect to the value these organizations have to the community. It is a fair fear that faith-based tax-exempt organizations have that they may be taxed for other services if they are taxed for stormwater issues. This is a list of organizations who provide services to the community that warrant their being exempt from taxation. Commissioner Barnett said the $218,000 is a ton of money to all of these organizations, to the schools, family services, etc. He said he is disappointed that this has become some type of math equation. He said this is huge money to the not-for-profits. He said they could pass this and not make a single change, but this motion would allow staff to prepare for additional conversation. He doesn't think slicing and dicing this is the way to address the issue.
Mayor Tully replied that this is not picking winners and losers.
Commissioner Barnett replied that he was fighting about the characterization, and the talk of overall cost or 5-10-15-year projections. Commissioner Barnett said that the issue is a policy discussion about involvement of tax-exempt organizations.
Mayor Tully said that they should be able to tell residents when projects will be done. He thinks they need to give residents expectations and reasonable estimates. If everyone understands there would be a process followed, he is fine with the Motion. Commissioner Barnett said he would like to see the Motion move forward this evening.
Commissioner Hosé commented that the Council is good with budgeting, and the Village has engineers telling us the costs of the projects. He thinks that they have to seriously understand that this cuts our bonding in half over the next eight years. Commissioner Hosé said that if they stray from the plan too quickly, they will end up kicking the can down the road. He said they should not assume the plan is flawed because it is long.
Commissioner Barnett said that this issue is one of timing. He does not see the plan as flawed. The Village knows what rate they should run on stormwater utility fees and on water bills right now to do the maintenance they should do.
Gerry Figliulo, 1451 Arrow Wood Lane questioned the $218,000 loss. He referenced the fees it cost to apply for a reduction in fees for Gloria Dei. He noted that the pond at Gloria Dei works.
Jo Potts, 216 Lincoln Avenue, said she was in favor of staying the course. The stormwater utility is new. Ms. Potts said if you are part of the problem you should be part of the solution. Residents have had to tighten their belts as well. Most of her neighbors are paying more than if it was on the tax rolls. She believes churches can find ways to do this. How to figure out which non-profits would be taken off could be problematic. She thinks the Council should give this more time and get the facts out to the public.
Jim Crawford, 201 56th Street, thanked the Council for doing this. He greatly appreciates the participation. He chooses to participate to worship. People should not have to pay more money because they choose to participate in worship. He said the Village should not create a negative incentive to choose to participate in worship. He said that this will be litigated. This is a tax. The Village can choose to apply the Ordinance as it wants. Mr. Crawford said that the Village has a chance to lead and exempt non-profits because it is the right thing to do.
Bill Waldack, 1409 Willard Place, said that he agrees with Commissioner Barnett tonight. He has been opposed to the stormwater utility fee for over a decade. The burden on non-profits and religious organizations was part of his opposition. He referenced a change to social services many years ago and dumping those services on non-profits. The Village is not losing funds but is investing in social services for residents. Projects may be delayed, but higher priority projects will be done. This is an investment in social services and a re-investment in the community. The effects are immediate.
Marge Earl, of 4720 Florence, said she was against the stormwater utility when it was proposed. It is a fee everyone has to pay like water, etc. As long as it is fair it should stay as it is. Taking any groups out changes the fairness. She said if that is done, they should put the fee back on the property taxes.
Andrew Pelloso, 4938 Stanley, commented that it is good to have strong views. He said they should consider the effect of changing the fees on the Village's bonding authority and the ability of projects to go forward. That is a discussion on the future of this Village. He said that decisions to come to or stay in Downers Grove are based on many factors, and stormwater is one of those factors. This is a discussion about the future of the community.
Clint Mattson, 4604 Woodward Avenue, said he is a part of St. Mary's parish, and he referenced the many services provided by the parish to people. Services provided by faith-based communities are greater than the $218,000 that's been mentioned.
Anthony Cheng, 5507 Aubrey Terrace, commented that he is for a leaner government and privatization of social services. He agrees with Commissioner Olsen, saying the Council should consider shifting the fee back to property taxes.
Mayor Tully thanked those who made comments. He said that the Motion is to direct staff to restructure the stormwater utility to exclude tax-exempt parcels and faith-based organizations. He said that the manifestations of that restructuring would appear in other documents that the Council would vote upon.
Mr. Fieldman said that was correct. All property tax-exempt organizations would be exempted from the stormwater utility.
Commissioner Olsen clarified that a "Yes" vote then allows this discussion to continue, and continues to engage residents in the future.
The Mayor called for a roll call vote:
VOTE: AYE: Commissioner Barnett, Commissioner Durkin, Commissioner Hosé, Commissioner Olsen, Commissioner Rheintgen, Commissioner Neustadt; Mayor Tully NAY: None
The Mayor declared the Motion passed unanimously.
INF 00-05710 C. Research and Development Team Proposal C ommissioner Barnett said that at the September 9, 2014, meeting he made the request that the Council discuss increasing the General Fund by $200,000 to fund a Research and Development team, and raise revenue by $180,000. He noted that the term "Research and Development" is undefined, and it would be left up to Mr. Fieldman and his staff to define the capacity.
Mayor Tully said this is exciting and could be a long-term benefit to the community. He is in favor of exploring the concept but is reluctant to raise property taxes.
Commissioner Barnett responded that it is appropriate to discuss this concept before Saturday's meeting. The Council tries to embrace a cost/benefit equation, yet it is difficult to quantify this concept. There is limited staff capacity at this time. Tonight they heard about revisiting the Sign Ordinance and about a dumpster enclosure. Each time the Council meets they are presented with opportunities, not all of which can make it through the list. If you look at full-time employee counts back to 2007, the Village has 10% fewer employees in 2014 than in 2007. The 2013-14 expense is less than the 2007 projections. This is evidence that staff is doing R&D work and is not afraid of innovation. He is concerned that the Village as an organization is struggling for capacity. Commissioner Barnett said this is an opportunity from a levy stand point to test the premise without increasing the property tax levy, due to reductions in police and fire levies. He said he understood that this is probably not Motion-worthy tonight.
Mayor Tully said that he agrees that it might not be motion-worthy at this point, but it is a good idea and worth consideration. He thinks there is real benefit that could come out of it.
Commissioner Neustadt commented that he thinks innovation, incubation and manpower flexibility are being done right now. He is not ready to put dollars into the budget now. It is not a bad thing to have the levy go down. He said that he is interested but not ready to make the expense. He thinks that they have done a very good job of innovation in the Village, but he would not be ready to make the move in the budget for next year. Right now long-range planning is working very well.
Commissioner Rheintgen said she saw this more about the concept. The Village is limited by staff capacity, however the cost has given her pause. She agreed that they cannot address things as quickly as possible due to staff constraints. She would like to hear about potential solutions, such as interns or a management analyst.
Mayor Tully noted that the Village has succeeded because it has engaged terrific people and has given them clear direction and tools to accomplish the goals. He thinks they should use the formula that has worked well already.
Commissioner Barnett agreed with the Mayor's comments. He said broadly, that he would not even approach this idea if he didn't think the net result would be a leveraging of what staff has already done. He understands that with R&D it is difficult to quantify.
Commissioner Hosé said that the essence is that they want more staff capacity and want to know how they can get it. He agreed that this concept should be explored and would allow the Council to prioritize. He thinks they should continue the conversation to examine what it takes to get more done, and what is the "more" that they want to get done. What would the additional projects be?
Commissioner Durkin asked what it is that the Village is not doing in a timely manner, or was not able to do at all.
Commissioner Barnett said there have been a number of things such as leaf programs, second dumpster enclosures, recycling downtown, etc., and they have bumped up against limited staff capacity. This could build capacity and flexibility, noting that the list shifts.
Commissioner Olsen said he does not feel that they are limited by staff. Staff is flexible and efficient, and will come to the Council if they cannot do something. Once the Council has set priorities it can discuss what it would take to do more. This proposal in his opinion is adding government for government's sake. The Council sets the priorities and staff is responsive and vocal when there is a need. To add people to think about new things doesn't work. The Council needs to establish priorities and direct staff, and staff can then respond with challenges. Commissioner Olsen said that the proposed FY15 budget includes an additional management analyst that will allow the Manager's office to respond to the Council.
Commissioner Olsen said from his perspective they are putting the cart before the horse. He would like to revisit the Sign Ordinance and would like to hear staff's response. He commented that the Village has become leaner and more efficient, and they should give relief to the taxpayer.
Commissioner Rheintgen responded that no one is suggesting adding people just to add people, and she sees that as an inaccurate statement. She referenced the additional management analyst position, saying that person would not be related to this concept.
Mr, Fieldman said that duties for the management analyst have already been determined and are not related to this particular issue.
Commissioner Olsen said that is exactly his point--that staff is reacting to priorities set by the Council.
Mayor Tully said, to him, R&D is thinking more broadly about doing things in ways that are not currently being done.
Commissioner Barnett added that it is about trying to prepare to take leaps and not necessarily small steps. The idea that there would be government for government's sake doesn't relate to this particular Council or staff. This is more than just hiring people and hoping to find something for them to do.
Mr. Fieldman said that there are three different types of capacity that staff recognizes. The first is service delivery on a day-to-day basis, with no particular deficit. Every department director would say they could use more staff to increase and maximize their ability to provide delivery of service, but there is no particular deficit. The second is policy making and special or large projects. Staff has had challenges on occasion and has compensated with consultants and/or part-time staff. The third type of capacity is innovation capacity, which is a long-term approach and difficult to measure. It is a great luxury for a staff to have, and makes for a better or more efficient government. He wants to be sure that this discussion relates to innovation capacity.
Mayor Tully said he is hearing that there is a desire to continue the conversation, perhaps establish more definition and see how it develops.
Bill Waldack, 1409 Willard Place, said that the Council just spent over an hour about losing $200,000, and now they want to spend $200,000 for an idea incubator. He said the Village is not using the capacity it has for ideas. He referenced TCD 2 and 3, which were attempts to learn what the community wanted or needed. There have been budget discussions about travel and conferences for staff to come up with ideas. People who want to support this type of innovation don't support conferences or going out of state. Stormwater was an idea that was presented at a conference. Mr. Waldack said that they have had big ideas, and they have plenty of opportunities for ideas. To hire employees as idea generators is not a good idea. He said they have obtained consultants as needed, and that is the way they should continue to go even though he dislikes consultants as a necessary evil.
Mayor Tully thanked him for sharing his ideas.
INF 00-05709 D. Community Grants Report Mayor Tully said that the Community Grants Committee and program was funded by the hotel/motel sales tax to facilitate cultural arts programs in the Village, making the Village a more interesting place to visit. A large part of the funding for some of these organizations came from community grants. In 2004 they attempted to refocus how funds were being used, and during the recession the program was defunded. He said that people raise the question about the Commission each year. The Mayor said the Council should decide if it should be funded now, or in the future, or not fund it again and eliminate it from the Ordinance. He would like this to be part of the budget process discussion.
Commissioner Neustadt noted that they have not reappointed people to that Commission for years.
Mr. Fieldman said that the Commission has been inactive since 2010 and is considered dormant.
Commissioner Neustadt commented that many organizations are still self-sustaining. It became routine for some organizations to expect these funds. Some organizations have had increases in their funds. The grant dollars are better used elsewhere. He has not heard from these organizations and doesn't think it should be reinstated.
Commissioner Olsen said he agrees with Commissioner Neustadt. These organizations are of value but he thinks it is time to move past this.
Commissioner Hosé said even if this is taken off the books, people could still approach the Council.
Mayor Tully said that there was an incubator aspect to this.
Commissioner Rheintgen commented that the concept of organizations finding another funding source has happened.
Mayor Tully said if that is true, then it appears that eliminating the Community Grants Commission is the consensus.
Mr. Fieldman said staff will take that as direction. Indexes: Boards and Commissions, Community Grants
Other Items of New Business
Commissioner Olsen said he has received feedback from a very diverse group of residents on the issue of Village facilities since the last meeting. The residents desire additional forums for input, and the opportunity to provide feedback. He then proposed an advisory referendum on this issue. The Council has the responsibility of responding to the residents' needs. He then moved to ask staff to prepare a question for Council consideration regarding public support or opposition to the new facilities complex to be placed on the ballot for the April 2015 election.
Mayor Tully said it is not Council's practice to take this up under New Business, and it can be placed on New Business for next week. Commissioner Olsen said he would be happy to come up with wording.
Commissioner Hosé said he would like a short discussion from staff about how they would engage the community and what the impact would be.
Mr. Fieldman said that staff would obtain information about timing as well.
Mayor Tully said he feels it is premature to craft the question at this time.
Commissioner Olsen replied that they have to ask the question at the outset of the project before money is spent. He is happy to work with staff and provide language. From his perspective if they move forward with the concept and purchase land, would that be the appropriate time to raise the question? In his opinion, if there is any question it has to be now. He doesn't like the idea of putting money into a plan and then asking what people think about it. That doesn't make sense.
Commissioner Neustadt said it seems that Commissioner Olsen is suggesting that if there is no interest in this it is not worth the work. From his perspective, Commissioner Neustadt said that the Council has been asking our residents about this for over a year. The Council has made a decision, and has not been elected to govern by referendum. It is a big decision, and the Council makes big decisions for the Village all the time. Governing by referendum is not his choice. He suggested that the Council give a head nod tonight or make a Motion to see whether the Council has interest in this.
Mr. Fieldman said that by Council rules, this could be placed on an Agenda.
Mayor Tully encouraged Commissioner Olsen to talk with his colleagues as well.
Commissioner Hosé said that the window Commissioner Olsen is seeking might have already been missed. If it is on the April ballot, they may have already been moving forward.
Commissioner Olsen responded that this is a large question, and there is enough definition to craft a question. It would be valuable to take time for this. There are opportunity costs. He will provide information to staff for next week's Agenda.
Commissioner Rheintgen said she understands that Commissioner Olsen's goal is to engage more residents. When she was a staff person with a Park District they had to go to referendum regarding a pool and could only provide information. She said that Village residents are used to dialogue. If the goal is to provide more information, she doesn't think that will happen through a referendum. It will provide less information.
Commissioner Olsen said his goal is to engage a broader segment of the community in the process.
Commissioner Barnett said he has been disappointed in the past with some previous meeting formats, and he felt this format tonight worked well. He would encourage this process to continue.
Commissioner Durkin asked what Commissioner Olsen sees as so time sensitive about this. He said if it is that residents don't know enough about what is being proposed, he agrees with that because Commissioner Durkin is hearing that as well from residents. The perception is that a decision has to be made before November and the elections. He added, however, that he also does not agree with governing through referendum.
Commissioner Neustadt replied the construction season and the budget are what are driving the time issue.
Mr. Fieldman said that the first action could be a redevelopment agreement in November. He said information is available in the budget information prepared by the Deputy Village Manager.
Mayor Tully asked for a Motion to adjourn.
Commissioner Neustadt moved to adjourn. Commissioner Durkin seconded the Motion.
VOTE: AYE: Commissioners Neustadt, Durkin, Hosé, Olsen, Rheintgen, Barnett; Mayor Tully
Mayor Tully declared the motion carried and the meeting adjourned at 10:48 p.m.