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Batavia business owners express concerns about proposed tax

Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 6:48 p.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Downtown business owners have voiced concerns about a special service area being proposed to fund the Batavia MainStreet organization.

After several business owners expressed concerns during a public hearing Monday for the proposed special service area, aldermen voted to continue the hearing until Sept. 3. In the meantime, city staff plans to meet with them about their concerns.

A special service area to fund Batavia MainStreet was established in November 2008, but that special service area expires in November. The new special service area would cover the same area as the existing one, and the maximum annual levy – $40,000 – would be the same.

The amount levied in the new special service area would be less than the $40,000 annual levy, Batavia Community Development Director Scott Buening said.

“The original SSA created a situation where property owners overpaid into the TIF District due to the tax ‘increment’ being calculated with the SSA levy added,” Buening said in a memo to city officials. “This created an unintended surplus into the TIF by approximately $108,000 over the five year SSA period.”

Buening said the surplus was caused because of the way the County Tax Extension office levies the tax on properties that are both in a TIF District and an SSA per state assessment requirements.

Gene Olmstead, owner of Olmstead’s TV and Appliances, said he wanted to know more about how that mistake happened.

“Someone has to be held accountable for what happened,” he said.

In raising concerns about the proposed special service area, business owner John Pitz said he supports Batavia MainStreet's mission to help revitalize the downtown.

"The concern is not with the accountability or performance of Batavia MainStreet," Pitz told aldermen. "The downtown property owners have always been supportive of Batavia MainStreet. We recognize the benefits of Batavia MainStreet."

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