December 5, 2014

Council Update

Members of Council voiced their opinions on the added traffic and costs to Downtown.

“The communication wasn’t there, I mean I got complaints from businesses that said we had no business, we had no way of even getting our employees in here, so I think that should be the responsibility of the bookstore reimbursing the city for expenses we incurred,” said Councilman Doug Krause.

But the majority thought the benefits from his trip were worth the costs.

“The former President of the United States came to Naperville, that in itself is pretty cool. Lets not be pennywise and dollar foolish on this,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli.

Bigger budgetary discussions took place when council addressed their 2015 legislative action plan to determine how the city should be spending money and what developments were necessary moving forward.

Six capital projects were up for debate, ranging from healthcare and road improvement projects to a possible entertainment venue.
All would require either state or federal dollars, but council wanted to narrow the list to items that are important to Napervillians.

“We should stay focused on what we need for the residents of Naperville that have a direct impact of their lives right now. Entertainment isn’t a factor; travel around the city is very important and dealing with their health concerns to respond quickly. I would go with just four items and stay focused on that, because with the new Governor, I don’t know if we’ll get any money at all,” said Krause.

Ultimately council agreed, asking for funding for the following four projects for next year: a North Aurora road overpass, centralized traffic management system, a compressed natural energy fueling station and a mobile integrated healthcare unit.

Not making the cut was the highly debated potential CSO outdoor music venue in DuPage County, after multiple members of the public voiced their concerns for the wildlife that live in the proposed area.

“The Egret and the Blue Heron do not tolerate humans of any kind, especially while on their nest. They will abandon their chicks and their eggs if there are humans around there so it’s a big concern for me to see that this rookery be destroyed because of a few months out the year the CSO has a venue there, so I just can’t see that,” said Judy Nesbitt, Naperville Resident.

Councilman Grant Wehrli agreed that it wouldn’t be a good decision, but not because of the wildlife issue.

“Would you be ok with Senate Bill 16 passing and we lose $9.4 million every year, but in return we get $12 million back once for a music venue? Lets just not focus on what’s here but how this interplays with everything else,” said Wehrli.

Council agreed to set position statements for the CSO venue and an agricultural center at Naper Settlement, meaning they would support the idea but not ask for funding.

Other news of the night revolved around the city’s proposed property tax levy of almost $50 million.

This adds up to the average homeowner of a $367,000 home paying an increase of $24 dollars.

The levy would support the city’s 2016 fiscal year budget as well as the libraries, Naper Settlement and pension obligations. But some council members argued that the rising debt rung up by the city requires further action.

“We’ve now used all of our savings, we’re down to our required reserves, we have increased our debt significantly over the last ten years and you know it’s no different than a household budget, get rid of your savings and you run up your credit card debt, it’s kind of what we’re looking at right now,” said Councilman Steve Chirico.

Despite the cautionary note from Chirico, council voted six to three to approve the tax levy.


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