Village of North Aurora | Crossroads on the Fox

Committee of the Whole Minutes

JULY 21, 2014

Mayor Berman called the meeting to order.

In attendance: Mayor Dale Berman, Trustee Mark Carroll, Trustee Mark Gaffino, Trustee Mark Guethle, Trustee Laura Curtis, Trustee Chris Faber, Trustee Mike Lowery, Village Clerk Lori Murray.

Staff in attendance: Public Works Superintendent Mike Glock, Water Superintendent Paul Young, Police Chief David Summer, Village Administrator Steve Bosco, Finance Director Bill Hannah, Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth, Village Attorney Kevin Drendel.

1. Discussion on Comprehensive Plan Update
Doug Hamill of Houseal Lavigne updated the Village Board with the progress and direction of the Comprehensive Plan.

The comprehensive plan aims to answer three questions:
Phase 1: Existing Conditions Analysis – Where are we now?
Phase 2: Community Visioning – Where are we going?
Phase 3: Plan Drafting & Adoption - How do we get there?

The following have been completed to date:
• Field reconnaissance to document current conditions and characteristics of the Village
• Development of a project website, including interactive tools for public outreach and engagement
• Community Workshop hat allowed residents to learn about the process and provide early input
regarding issues, opportunities, and priorities
• Stakeholder interviews with residents, business owners, service providers, and others
• Interviews with members of the development community to assess local potential for growth and
• Analysis of technical data related to demographics, market potential, employment, etc.
• Review of relevant plans, policies and regulations. The Village is in phase 1 right now. Have had a project kick-off with Staff and the project steering committee, driven the community and documented existing land use throughout the Village, developed an interactive project website. This is a key portal for people to provide input. Go to Village website for access. Sub areas plans: Orchard Road….IL 31/IL56

As part of the Comprehensive Plan, a more specific “Sub-Area Plan” is being developed for the Route
31/56 corridor. The exact boundaries have yet to be defined, but the Plan will cover the State Street/Route
31/Route 56 area, including “Block 1” bound by Lincoln Highway, Oak Street, Monroe Street, and State
Street. The draft Sub-Area Plan, including the Activity Center site, is expected to be completed by the end of November 2014.

2. Discussion on Southwest Fox Valley Cable Consortium
The Village of North Aurora has been a member of the Fox Valley Cable Consortium for the past 12 years. The Village’s contribution to the Consortium is 40% of the cable franchise fees and the Village receives 5% of all Comcast bills in the Village.
Staff has requested direction from the Village Board in terms of whether or not the Village should remain a member of the Consortium and if the agreement should be renegotiated as a whole, with the remaining municipalities.

Trustee Curtis asked if, financially, this is a net loss or win for the Village. Bosco said it is a net loss. The Village pays 40% of all of the franchise fees per quarter, which on average is $20,000 a quarter. Curtis said it appears to be a lot of cost for little benefit. Curtis asked about the total dollar amount the Village has paid into the Consortium. Bosco said that the net difference in what the Village has paid and received is $160,000.

Trustee Faber said that it comes down to the financial benefit of having access to public television and whether the Village takes advantage of it or not.

Village Administrator Steve Bosco noted that if the Village decides not to be a part of the Consortium and goes out on its own, the money that went to the Consortium would go into the General Fund. The Village could take that money and create its own Channel 17. The only up-front cost to the Village would be the equipment cost. The issue would be losing the studio access.

Trustee Curtis asked if it is mandatory that the Village participate and if the Village can walk away. Bosco said that it creates issues because there are bylaws that were established and approved by the Board years ago. It is not known how the money that has been paid in by the Village would be handled or divided. When Oswego left the Consortium they did not get their money back. Curtis said she would rather walk away rather than keep paying into something the Village is not benefitting from. Curtis said if the Village went on its own, it would cost the Village about $15,000 a year and currently the Village is paying $26,000 - $30,000 a year. Curtis said it is fiscally responsible to not participate since there is not a demand from the community.

Trustee Faber asked Mike Rennels, Manager of Public Access Programming at FVTV, if the accounts are posted on their website for streaming. If something airs on the show, would it be made available to the Village to be embedded to the Village website? Rennels said yes.

Rennels noted that programming is available on Comcast, AT&T, as well as on the web and provides the community with ways of creating programming. Rennels said that FVTV has worked with the Village and partnered with Cornerstone Community Baptist Church, Union Church, New Hope Lutheran Church, North Aurora Mothers Club, Messenger Public Library, North Aurora Garden Club and Fox Valley Academy of Music. Trustee Faber said that if the Village is going to commit to this, then we need to make sure that we are going to use this and get our money’s worth. As it is now, we are not.

Rennels said they have asked for a reaffirmation of the Consortium’s ability to do the initial negotiations. The Village will make the final decisions. A professional consultant has been hired, Atty. Drendel is the Consortium’s attorney and will make sure the best deal possible is made for the Village of North Aurora. There have been a lot of changes due to state legislation and the template that Comcast has differs slightly from what the mayors put together but what is does not include is any of the PEG, the funding of it and how it will operate. That is something the Village should consider. Rennels said he is trying to be fiscally responsible and perhaps the price of membership can be considered and possibly lowered since money is being refunded annually.

Trustee Carroll said there is no doubt about the services and that they are valuable. The issue is that the Village is taking money that would otherwise go into the General Fund. Carroll added that if 50% of the residents of North Aurora do not have access to the public channels, the Village is taking money and spending the money on a service that half of the community does not have access to. Guethle said information can be accessed through the website on the internet. Trustee Gaffino said that the money going to the Consortium is coming from Comcast customers in the Village and not from every taxpayer in town. Curtis said that the money could be better spent.

Bosco said that the State has a Telecommunications Cable Act and it was updated in 2007. It spells out how franchise fees go to communities. Two ways: You get a local 5% franchise fee if a company goes to the local municipality and signs an agreement, which is what Comcast has done in most communities. AT &T allows them to get franchising through the state. They still have to pay 5% to the community they go into, but they don’t have to build out the community. They also have to pay a 1% additional fee to PEG access.

Five percent of Comcast revenue that comes to us has no obligations and goes into our general fund for general operations. Of the 6% we receive from the State for AT&T, 5% goes into the General Fund and 1% goes to PEG access. You do lose the aspect of the studio abilities. The Comcast template has a provision that allows a municipality to increase the PEG fee through the Comcast franchise agreement and put an additional charge in everyone’s bill to support local PEG access through the municipality. Most communities would fund PEG access through the General Fund.

Bosco recommended not signing a 10-year agreement with Comcast. Most communities sign for 5 years and some for 3 years. If the Consortium wants to go with a 10-year contract, the question becomes if the Village of North Aurora can stay in the Consortium and negotiate its own franchise agreement and have the benefits of PEG access.

Mayor Berman suggested the Village Board discuss the issue further.


Motion to adjourn made by Trustee Lowery and seconded by Trustee Carroll. All in favor. Motion approved.

Respectfully Submitted,

Lori J. Murray
Village Clerk

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Village of North Aurora
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