BATAVIA – City aldermen have hammered out a 2018 budget that includes tax and rate increases to fund storm sewer and street work, and hiring a new police officer and building inspector.
At a Nov. 14 public hearing on the budget, aldermen fine-tuned the plan, deciding to make a further increase in the property tax to fund street repairs and the two new employees.
Under the plan, expected to be approved by the full Batavia City Council on Dec. 4, the city property tax on a home valued at $350,000 will increase by $48.
“You get what you pay for,” 3rd Ward Alderman Dan Chanzit said. “This doesn’t feel like a tremendous increase to do the things people want us to do.”
The $137 million budget also includes a gasoline tax increase of one penny in 2018, bringing the city’s total gas tax to 4 cents per gallon.
Batavia city utility customers will see rate increases of 3 percent on their water bills and 6 percent on their sewer bills, but there will be no increase in the electric rate.
Aldermen decided the city needs to boost its property tax levy by $600,000.
In addition to the $300,000 for stormwater engineering projects they already had agreed upon, the budget now includes $200,000 for the two additional employees, and another $100,000 for the street improvement fund.
The new police officer will be assigned to the North Central Narcotics Task Force to handle undercover drug investigations, Batavia Police Chief Dan Eul said.
Having the dedicated NCNTF officer on the Batavia force will provide the city with state resources for drug investigations that it does not now have, Eul said, and the new officer will be given a vehicle by the Illinois State Police.
The additional building inspector will make sure new construction meets city requirements and will be able to assist the city’s code compliance officer, Batavia Community Development Director Scott Buening said.
During budget discussions, aldermen had been disappointed to learn there is a two-week backlog in performing building inspections, and worried about its effect on business development in the community.
As expected, aldermen cut the Route 31 pedestrian crosswalk improvements from the budget. The upgrades for the three flashing-light crosswalks were estimated at $500,000.
The spending plan includes a $1 million bond issue for replacement windows, masonry tuck-pointing and other improvements at the Batavia Government Center. Much of the work will be performed and the money spent in 2018.
However, inclusion of $600,000 for a major interior renovation project at City Hall had been of concern to Mayor Jeff Schielke, who has been keeping a nervous eye on the financial crisis in state government.
Aldermen kept the money in the budget, but, in deference to the mayor, will delay moving ahead with the interior project at least until June, when a clearer picture of the state’s finances and tax policy can be determined.