Insurance Broker, Batavia Insurance Agency, Inc
Not available, Jo S.
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
I have spent 32 years on the Batavia City Council. Most of that time as chairman of the Public Utilities Committee. I believe my experience and expertise will continue to benefit the citizens of our community. I truly think that as an alderman intimately involved with Public Utilities, power economics, the complexities of the state and federal regulations and the fast changing nature of the field that I am best able to work with the rest of the City Council and City Staff to solve the short-term issue we now have. The Council, including myself, considers this a priority. I represent the City as a member of the Northern Illinois Municipal Power Agency. I am familiar with the studies that have been performed by our consultant over the last year, the work and thought behind the actions we are taking to reduce our power supply, and am best positioned to take advantage of opportunities we are working to create at this very moment. Unfortunately, as a commodity and subject to competition, some our actions can’t always be as open as we would like, but I will continue to do my job for the benefit of the community. Lastly, the Council is already losing three valuable members. This is not to say that the new ones will not get up to speed as soon as possible, but in this case, I think it is valuable to maintain some consistently. Batavia’s electric rates are absolutely in line with other communities. Changes are always hard and the last resort, but in one sense, the extent to which we remain competitive with other communities even after modest increases is a measure of how reasonable we have been able to keep rates, which at the same time, increasing our reliability to far greater levels than investor-owned utilities. I can refer you to the recent NIMPA rate study so you can see how we compare.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
My priorities are mostly the same as the present City Council. The City Council has authorized a Waste Water Treatment Facility Engineering Study with Trotter and Associates for Treatment Options and Master plan Updates .The Utility Committee and Staff are currently working with the engineers. I am familiar with the operation of the plant and have been a part of the last three improvements. The proper use of TIF funds to encourage improvements to business and property within the TIF district. Funding have and will continue to be used to encourage new business, improve existing business and partner with building owners to bringing building codes up to date. The term “streetscape” has become a popular term around the City of Batavia. The formation of a citizens group and the contracting of the Altamanu Group was the beginning of a long process. The Council was advised and adopted a recommendation to work toward a more pedestrian friendly downtown. River Street should be followed by Wilson Street this summer, Houston Street, creating a new sidewalk on the hill for our residents to access the downtown, Batavia Avenue, the street by which many people passing through get an idea of our town, and South Water Street our growing arts neighborhood.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
No. The City of Batavia has a tax rate near the lowest of any area community and has increased approximately 10% over the last 10 years. While we did experience a larger than normal increase between 2010 and 2011, it was to absorb a large increase in ambulance service costs. This year our rate, which is always dependent upon the entire community’s eav is expected to increase by 2.2%, close to the rate of inflation. We have reduced spending in 4 of the last 6 years and total spending is still significantly lower than in 2007 and 2008. We are operating with approximately 10% fewer employees than in 2009, those who remained voluntarily took pay cuts, 2013 is the first year they have earned more than they did in 2009. The Mayor Council and Staff take taxation very seriously.
What one decision by the city council do you most disagree with and why?
The council removed the requirement for masonry dividers between multi family units. The new code requires only fire rated separation walls and floors between units. The building requires fire sprinklers throughout. This does meet the present state fire codes. The new code is expected to encourage new, more affordable housing.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the city council in the past year?
Without a doubt RIVER STREET, our first “streetscape.” I think our first major project, River Street has been successful, and that if summer ever gets here, will show how these kinds of projects can improve our quality of life.
Why should voters elect you to office?
I have and will continue to be totally involved. I make it a point to attend all meetings that involves decisions within the 5th Ward and/or the City Council. I have also regularly attended Plan Commission and Zoning Board meeting. Knowledge is the only way a council member can make an informed vote. I regularly attend seminars presented by American Public Power Association, Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (of which I was a founding member) Illinois Municipal Utility Association and the Indiana Municipal Utility Agency. Since Batavia has found it necessary to limit seminars due to budget constraints, I have paid for the seminars personally. Education and networking is an important part of the chairing the utility committee. I have served in public office forty two years, ten years on the first Batavia Park District board and the last thirty two years on the Batavia City Council. The Council is already losing three of valuable members. This is not to say that the new ones will not get up to speed as soon as possible, but in this case, I think it is valuable to maintain some consistently. I feel the present administration is leading the ship in the right direction. Not a good time for change.
Other Local Races
Al Lenkaitis Jr.