Do Batavia residents want a second Fox River bridge? City leaders want to find out.
If you were one of the 3,000 Batavia residents randomly selected to respond to a community survey, you might have noticed a question asking if you would support paying more in taxes to help fund a second Fox River bridge.
City leaders say no plan is imminent and officials are trying to gauge the pulse of the community as part of their survey, which mainly centers on core services such as trash collection.
Residents rejected a plan in November 2000 to borrow $8 million another downtown bridge, south of the current Wilson Street Bridge.
"What we're looking for is whether people want to have it," Mayor Jeff Schielke said. "My opinion is I don't think we can build another bridge for that amount."
The survey question reads: "The city is exploring the option to build a second bridge. To cover costs, the city would issue approximately $20 million in municipal bonds (a lump sum, like a mortgage), which would require homeowners to pay an additional $230 in property taxes per year on a $300,000 home for the next 20 years. How much would you support or oppose the city increasing property taxes to build a second bridge?"
The survey gives five choices: strongly support; somewhat support; somewhat oppose; strongly oppose; and don't know.
Schielke noted the dearth of state and federal funding available due to sagging tax revenues from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's a long way off, either way you look at it," said Schielke, who noted residents rejected a plan to borrow $8 million in November 2000 for a bridge from First Street to Webster Street. "I certainly would support another bridge, but I'm not optimistic taxpayers would want to pay for it. The biggest barrier at the moment is where the money is going to come from unless it comes from Batavia taxpayers."
First Ward Alderwoman Jennifer Baerren said the survey is to get a "pulse of the community."
"Do I think we need another bridge immediately at this point? No, I don't," Baerren said. "It's important that if citizens have a view, take the survey and be heard."
The city will close the survey July 15, and city leaders expect results in August. To complete the survey, visit cityofbatavia.net or call (630) 454-2000.