Leaf removal, drainage costs on Batavia council's mind
The Batavia City Council spent Monday evening contemplating who should pay to get rid of stormwater and fallen leaves as well as how much it should cost.
The board ultimately refused to increase the brush-and-leaf-pickup fee by $1 a month; hired a consultant to study implementing a stormwater utility; discussed whether to tax several neighborhoods to maintain their stormwater detention facilities; and voted on the 2015 budget.
Mayor Jeff Schielke cast a rare tiebreaking vote, to table a vote on levying special-service-area property taxes for stormwater management, totaling $9,000, in five residential subdivisions. The tax would have cost the residents $30 to $77 per property.
When the subdivisions were built, they did not have homeowner associations to handle the maintenance. Until now the city has paid for maintenance of the stormwater detention and retention areas.
Alderman Nick Cerone, in whose ward some of the subdivisions lie, proposed tabling the matter for six months until city officials decide whether to establish a citywide stormwater utility and charge a fee for it. He also said the subdivisions should be given a chance to form an association and get the work done themselves.
He also said it wasn't fair that these subdivisions are the first the city will charge, when there are other subdivisions in the city without homeowner associations that would still receive city maintenance of their ponds. Those other subdivisions do not have special service areas, however.
"When I got the letter (from the city) 10 days ago, I thought it was either the height of arrogance or the height of tone deafness from our elected officials," said Bill Fox, one of several affected residents who spoke against the idea.
Alderman Susan Stark argued in favor of levying the taxes.
"If you buy your house in a subdivision that has park areas and water areas, somebody has to pay for the maintenance," she said.
The council voted 13-1 to leave the brush-and-leaf fee as is. The only person to vote in favor of an increase was Alderman Alan Wolff, who had proposed the idea.
"I just feel like we are kicking the can down the road. We have been absorbing the additional costs the last couple of years. I think everybody up here is fooling themselves if we don't think it will be a $2 increase next year," he said.
And the council agreed unanimously to spend $36,217 to hire the consultant for the stormwater utility study.