Committee of the Whole Minutes
VILLAGE OF NORTH AURORA
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING MINUTES
SEPTEMBER 16, 2019
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Berman called the meeting to order.
In attendance: Mayor Dale Berman, Trustee Mark Gaffino, Trustee Mike Lowery, Trustee Laura Curtis, Trustee Tao Martinez, Trustee Mark Guethle, Village Clerk Lori Murray. Not in attendance: Trustee Mark Carroll.
Staff in attendance: Village Administrator Steve Bosco, Finance Director Bill Hannah, Community & Economic Development Director Mike Toth, Public Works Director John Laskowski, Police Chief Dave Fisher, Village Attorney Kevin Drendel,
AUDIENCE COMMENTS - None
TRUSTEE COMMENTS - None
1. 345 Sullivan Road Special Use
The Village has received an application for a special use and map amendment for the property to be used as a dental veterinary clinic. The Plan Commission recommended approval at their meeting on September 3rd. The request from the petitioner is a map amendment to rezone the property from the OR to the B2 district and to allow a special use as an animal hospital and veterinary clinic.
Dr. Juriga addressed the Board. He owns River Heights Veterinary Hospital in Oswego and has been at that location for the last 27 years. He stated that he would like to relocate his dental referral practice to 345 Sullivan Road and that the property fits very well for his needs.
Mayor Berman said that the Village Board is looking forward to Dr. Juriga’s business coming to North Aurora.
2. Fox River Dam Removal
Representatives from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources were present to speak about the Fox River dam removal. Village Administrator Steve Bosco stated that there is money in the current state budget for dam removal of impaired water ways. Staff is looking to determine if the Board is interested in reinvesting in an IGA with the Fox Valley Park District and the IDNR for the potential dam removal of the Fox River dam.
Wes Cattoor of the IDNR noted safety, water quality and economic benefits as reasons for removing the dam. In terms of safety, drownings have been a result due to hydraulic rollers below each dam. Removal of the dam will remove public safety hazards. It will also improve recreational fishing since fish species have flourished once dams are removed.
Steve Pescitelli, streams biologist, addressed the benefits of dam removal for the aquatic ecosystem. He noted that there are 2 effects of the Fox River Dam:
-Local effects: degraded habitat, degraded water quality, degraded fish and macro invertebrate communities.
-System-wide effects: Fragmented river, barrier to fish migration, prevents recolonization of impacted and restored reaches, isolate important habits.
The removal of the dam will also bring interests such as canoeing and motorized boating to the area.
Economic benefits: no structure maintenance costs, no sediment removal, no debris removal, less downstream erosion repair costs, emergency response costs and liability lawsuits.
What is needed to move forward with the process:
1. Village Approval
2. Sponsorship Agreement
3. Project Plan
4. Permits (404, 401 OWR, NPDES)
5. Land Rights
6. Funding ($2,500,000+)
7. Monitoring and maintenance.
Trustee Curtis noted her concern about budgeting costs and did not feel that the $2.5 to $3 million cost was the best use of funds. Curtis said that there are 5 or 6 dams to the north and to the south of North Aurora and what effect removal of the dam would have if the other communities do not remove their dams.
Cattoor said it only takes one loss of life to regret saying that the cost was not worth it.
Curtis said that the dams were put in for a reason and not sure taking them out will put it back to the way it was before. Cattoor said the dams were originally put in place for the mill race and they no longer serve their original purpose.
Steve Pescitelli said we are addressing all of the dams through the Fox River Study Group.
One way to improve the quality of water, is by removing the dams.
Curtis said that at a cost of $3 million per dam, this should not be a priority. Pescitelli said that the alternative to that is spending 10 times that amount on phosphorous removal. Trustee Guethle noted that the dam removal is being funded by the state.
Trustee Martinez asked if removal of the dam would increase flooding for residents who live along the river. Cattoor said that removal of the dam will slightly reduce the flood frequency.
Mayor Berman said that the dam has been an attractive part of the village and has been illuminated for 30 years from the bridge but removal would be to our benefit to have recreation on the water without a threat of death. Trustee Gaffino agreed with Mayor Berman and felt it would be a good opportunity for more recreation on the river. Trustee Lowery was in favor of removing the dam but noted his concern with erosion of the east bank. Cattoor said that this would be discussed in the design process to avoid such erosion.
Bosco said this would be discussed further with the Fox Valley Park District. It will then be brought back to another Committee of the Whole meeting and then to the Village Board for a vote.
3. Discussion on Fee Structure with the FV Cable Consortium
Current fee structure: the village provides 40% of our Comcast and Metronet franchise agreement fees to the Cable Consortium. In the last five years, the village has given the consortium just under $90,000 annually. The new funding structure would change from 40% of our franchise fees to 30% and they would only provide a refund if they had a surplus in the amount of their operational funds. It also requires the village to pass a tax/fee. In each of our Metronet and Comcast franchise agreements, we have ability to pass along a 53-cent charge to each user. A portion of that would be collected specifically for the Consortium’s capital budget for future equipment. In 2018, the village gave the consortium approximately $93,000. With the 30% we would be giving $65,700. In order to move forward, it would require an amendment to the IGA for the funding structure.
Curtis asked how the 53-cent tax to consumers came about since they are already paying a tax on the franchise fees and what will the village be getting for paying another $15,000 to $20,000 more a year. Curtis also asked what imperative they have to maintain fiscal accountability that as long as they don’t hit the surplus amount they don’t have to pay it back. Curtis added that since first implementing videotaping, the village has not received any information regarding how many subscribers the channel has and how many people are watching.
Mayor Berman said that things have changed since first starting with the consortium. As far as the number of people who access the channel, it is still something we don’t have an answer to. People can get their information on the internet and people can watch that any time. Mayor Berman said that the Village can provide this service for itself at a lot less cost.
Trustee Guethle asked what the production cost would be to do these videos ourselves. Bosco said that doing this in-house, the village would have to buy a camera and hire someone to videotape and we would then upload it to our YouTube channel. The cost would be about $10,000/year.
Curtis noted that a lot of people are using Hulu and Amazon Prime and other streaming services these days and that the peg channels are only available to the Comcast subscribers.
Doug Botkin, village representative for the consortium, addressed the board. Botkin said that people are definitely cutting the chord with cable companies but the videos from the consortium can be viewed on the internet as well. In terms of the 53-cent taxation, that is a maximum and would most likely be between 15 – 30 cents. That ability had to be run through Comcast who reviewed the consortium’s capital expenditures plan. In terms of accountability, a part of that is with whoever the board chooses to represent them on the consortium.
Mayor Berman said he does not see strong support to continue with the Consortium in the same manner as the past. Curtis asked if the Village could remove itself from the Consortium and take care of broadcasting the meeting ourselves.
Direction by the Board was to bring information back to the next meeting with the cost of doing this ourselves and a question on whether or not the village will continue with the consortium.
Motion to adjourn made by Trustee Guethle and seconded by Trustee Gaffino. All in favor. Motion approved.
Lori J. Murray