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An Attentive Municipal Organization that Connects with Community, Commerce, and Nature.

Committee of the Whole Minutes

Monday, November 20, 2023

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village Board meeting was conducted live remotely
via telecommunications.

Mayor Gaffino called the meeting to order.

In attendance: Mayor Mark Gaffino, Trustee Jason Christiansen, Trustee Laura Curtis, Trustee Mark Guethle, Trustee Mike Lowery, Trustee Todd Niedzwiedz, Trustee Carolyn Salazar

Staff in attendance: Village Administrator Steve Bosco, Finance Director Jason Paprocki, Community & Economic Development Director Nathan Darga, Village Attorney Kevin Drendel, Village Engineer/Assistant Public Works Director Brandon Tonarelli, Police Chief Joe DeLeo.




1. Zoning Code Text Amendments
Administrator Bosco stated that staff had been updating the Village Code and was now reviewing zoning code. Bosco stated that Director Darga was planning to do larger changes in the upcoming months, presently he was presenting the Board with some minor updates, including a change to the public hearing notice signs.
Community & Economic Development Director Nathan Darga explained that most of the changes in this round of updates was removing redundant or unused provisions, moving things that are in the incorrect sections, updating definitions and an update on Public Hearing signs. He provided an example of what was to be removed and what was to be retained on the Public Hearing signs. This change was in an effort to make the information on the signs larger and more readable to passers-by.
Mayor Gaffino asked if a website could be added to make information more accessible as opposed to a phone number. Darga agreed.
Trustee Curtis asked if the Village would be listing the current zoning and the change requested in the “Description of Requests” field of the sign. Darga stated in that field, he would list whether or not it was a PUD or if it was an actual zoning change.
There were no further questions from the Board, and had positive feedback for the changes.

2. Building Code Update

Administrator Bosco reminded the Board that it was the Village’s plan to have the building codes updated to the 2021 codes by January 1, 2024.
Director Darga, as a reminder to the Board, provided a list of the building codes that the Village was preparing to adopt. He explained why the changes were so lengthy, stating that chapter one of each book needed to be amended to reflect the Village’s own administrative process. The second groups of amendments takes the national codes and adapts them to reflect the needs of the Village. Darga stated that the third group of changes are actual code changes. These were amendments proposed in an effort to adapt the code to reflect what has determined to be appropriate for the Village.
There were no questions from the Board, there was expressed approval for the changes.
3. Sales Tax Referendum Question
Administrator Bosco reminded the Board that the non-home rule sales tax referendum question was born from conversations regarding how to fund the new public works facility. While there were different options for financing the facility, staff believed that this one would generate enough income to pay the debt annually on the new building.
Finance Director Jason Paprocki reminded the Board of the discussion during the October 16, 2023 Committee of the Whole meeting, where a few different funding sources were laid out for the projected building cost of $18 million based on current interest rates, length of borrowing term and the amount borrowed. Staff estimates that this would equate to about a $1.2 to $1.5 million a year in an annual debt payment.
Non-home rule sales tax can be used on public infrastructure, property tax relief, and municipal operations (until July 1, 2030). Utilizing funds from a non-home rule sales tax for the purpose of funding a new public works facility would fall into the public infrastructure category. The additional income from increasing the non-home rule sales tax would ensure a fully funded Capital Plan going forward, to assist in maintaining the Village’s infrastructure.
Staff reviewed various revenue options of revenue, the non-home rule sales tax stood out as an option because it shares the burden of cost between both residents and non-residents. The revenue is based on purchases rather than utilities or property owners. As a non-home rule community, the Village is able to go up to 1% total for a non-home rule sales tax, the Village currently has a 0.5% sales tax, so is able to request an increase of another 0.5%. Paprocki stated that this increase would limit the Village’s dependency on its current revenues. As the Village’s other financial obligations increase in upcoming years, the Village would be pinched on how much money would be available to use for the debt payment.
Paprocki explained that for every $100 of qualifying purchases, the customer would pay an additional .50 cents. The non-home rule sales tax does not apply to items that must be titles or registered with the state, groceries and food not sold for immediate consumption, prescription medicines and certain nonprescription items with medicinal value, and prescription and non-prescription medical appliances. The Village’s normal 1% sales tax it receives renders about $7 million annually, the current 0.5% non-home rule sales tax is about $1.4-$1.5 million.
The Village’s current sales tax rate was 7.5%, the Village’s non-home rule sales tax portion of that was a half percent. Paprocki provided comparables to local municipalities, both home rule and non-home rule. The Village was at least a half percent lower than all comparables.
Paprocki explained what would happen if the referendum failed and the additional $1.3-$1.5 million could not be captured by the non-home rule sales tax. He stated that additional revenue sources would have to be investigated, such as increase of utility tax which could be done by the Village Board via ordinance, however that would be expected to only bring in about $450,000 annually and could cost a homeowner between $30-$50 increase annually. General Fund Capital Transfers of approximately $600,000 may be eliminated. Capital replacement schedules would be delayed. Operations and services may be reduced to fund Capital.
Paprocki presented the Board with the proposed question that would appear on voter’s ballots. “Shall the corporate authorities of the Village of North Aurora, Kane County, Illinois, increase its Non-Home Rule Municipal Retailers’ Occupation Tax and Non-Home Rule Municipal Service Occupation Tax form 0.5% to a rate of 1.0% for expenditures on municipal operations, expenditures on public infrastructure, and/or for property tax relief?”
Trustee Curtis asked about the phrasing of the question and whether or not it could be changed to make it more accessible for people to understand. Administrator Bosco stated that this question was brought to the Village’s Attorney Drendel who stated that the phrasing of the question had to be substantially similar to the statute and how it is written. Attorney Drendel added that the way the question was phrased was the exact language out of the statute, what the legislature believed to be clear and unambiguous.
There was discussion of rephrasing the question in an effort to make it more appealing and consumable to voters.
Administrator Bosco asked the Village Board how they would like to proceed. He asked if they wanted to proceed with the referendum, and if so, how they would like the referendum question to read.
There was discussion regarding the phrasing of the referendum question. Trustee Guethle believed the question to be fine as is while Trustee Curtis felt that it was phrased as a negative. Trustee Salazar questioned the “for property tax relief” aspect of the referendum question, stating that it was a misleading or unclear statement. There was further discussion.
Administrator Bosco stated that if the Village Board wanted this referendum question to be on the next ballot, it would have to be certified by the Village Board’s next meeting. At that meeting, staff was planning to bring the certified question before the Village Board for approval. At the Committee of the Whole meeting that follows, staff had planned on adding to the agenda a discussion regarding an education campaign for voters.
Trustee Lowery explained that he believed that psychologically, if an idea is placed earlier in a narrative, it has more of an impact on the reader. He felt that approach would be beneficial in wording the referendum question in order to “sell” it or make the idea more appealing. Attorney Drendel stated that a local governmental body could not “sell” a referendum question to the voter. Drendel also said that the Village and its’ representatives could not advocate for the passing of a referendum. They could provide information/education. He also stated he believed that if the Village used the exact wording in the statute, however rearranged for the referendum question, it may be certified.
There was discussion regarding the phrasing “occupational tax” versus “sales tax’. Attorney Drendel stated that in fact what the Village was requesting was an occupational tax, it is a tax that is placed on the retailer that is then passed on to the consumer.
Paprocki continued his presentation, he explained that no employee or elected official may use their official position to influence others or engage in political activities while at work or on duty. He touched on some of the ideas that would be discussed at a later Committee of the Whole meeting, such as having a dedicated website to provide information to residents, including FAQ’s, scheduled social media informational updates, adding information to the community sign and newsletter, offer three public works facility tours and three town hall meetings.
Administrator Bosco gave further details on how the Village planned on implementing these ideas.
There was additional discussion regarding whether or not a Village Board member could speak about the proposed referendum in their personal capacity. Attorney Drendel stressed that while it is within a Trustee’s constitutional rights to speak about it, it cannot be done in the capacity of Trustee. It cannot be done on Village time with utilizing Village resources. There was additional discussion regarding this.
Director Paprocki presented the Board with an election timeline. The next steps would be the Village Board would vote on the question at the December 4, 2023 Board meeting; the deadline to submit the approved question to Kane County will be January 11, 2024; Kane County will begin to mail vote-by-mail ballots as well as early voting at the County Clerk’s office only begins on February 8, 2024; Early voting at permanent polling places begins on March 4, 2024; the General Primary Election will be held on March 19, 2024.
There was discussion whether or not Kane County was approving their own referendum for a sales tax increase.
The Village Board was in favor of moving forward with the referendum.
Administrator Bosco reviewed steps that would be taken if the referendum should fail.
Administrator Bosco stated that staff would work with Attorney Drendel to see if there was a way to reword the referendum question to clarify it for voters. He would then come back to the next Board meeting with options of certified questions to choose from.


Motion to adjourn made by Trustee Guethle and seconded by Trustee Niedzwiedz. All in favor. Motion approved.

Respectfully Submitted,

Jessi Watkins
Village Clerk





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