[Jeff Krage for Shaw Media]
[Geneva incumbent 2nd Ward Alderman Michael Clements answers a question during a candidate forum at Geneva Middle School North on March 6. The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County.]
Simonian said when he was on the council, the city had a $1.26 million budget surplus that he would not support spending until he was told what it was for.
“The first three-quarters of a million of those taxes of went to 81 non-union employees for an average 10.5 percent pay raise,” Simonian said. “I don’t have a problem with taxes. I have a problem with expenses.”
Clements said the sales tax increase was beneficial to the community and the majority of it was paid by people who visit.
“It’s very beneficial to the community,” Clements said. “Our own market analysis shows that the taxes were being paid by a majority of people who don’t live here. … It’s a very good deal.”
Hemming said he supported the sales tax increase and it was needed to maintain the city, “and it costs a lot of money to do that.”
“But I also agree with Mr. Simonian in that we have to keep an eye on spending.”
To a question of what to do to improve downtown parking, Merrington said another parking garage is a long-term goal.
Merrington said she would need discussions with city staff that have data on parking in order to consider options of what to do.
Maladra said he would like to see an inventory of when parking areas are busy.
Simonian said he agreed with doing a study. But he also suggested to see if the county would agree to having the city build a parking deck behind the courthouse on Third Street.
“If we paid for it and they continue to have the lower level during the day, we could increase parking for the entire neighborhood,” Simonian said.
Clements said he has spoken to business owners on State Street “who would love something like that,” because people who park by the train station tend not to walk as far as State Street.
“Something like that might relieve some of the parking stress the side streets feel," Clements said.
"Side streets can become extraordinarily congested. Having an additional parking structure might alleviate some of that."
Hemming said he has heard parking complaints from downtown merchants and shoppers.
Hemming recounted a conversation with a member of the county board about "their feelings on cooperation for the use of the existing courthouse parking lot.”
“There’s close to 100 spots in that lot," Hemming said. "If we could get a couple levels of a parking garage in there, it sure would help alleviate some of that congestion downtown.”
Kaven said having people who are looking for parking in the downtown “is certainly a good problem to have.”
Kaven also suggested a study to what the downtown parking needs actually are.