Vice President Business Development, Pierbridge Inc.
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
I have been a resident of the 6th ward for over 20 years, and alderman for the last 8 years. I come from a family of life long civil servants and thought it of great value to continue this tradition as it fulfilled my desire to give back to my community and helped me educate my sons on the pride and enrichment which can be attained by serving a community. Professionally I have been successful in providing organizations software to manage their distribution processes, focusing on creating operational efficiencies, enhanced customer service, and tighter financial controls. During my eight years as alderman I have served on both the Government Services and City Services Committee (Vice Chairman) and am currently the City of Batavia’s representative on the Tri City Ambulance Board. This experience is of great value as the constituents expect the same level of service they have become accustomed to as revenues to the city have been reduced due to the condition of economy.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
The economics of providing residents the level of services they have become accustomed to will remain challenging due to the economy and the financial condition of the state of Illinois and the Federal Government. I believe that through more intergovernmental relationships with other taxing bodies as well as neighboring cities there is an opportunity to aggregate services, thus reducing redundant resources and the associated costs, leaving the tax payer with less of an overall tax bill. The continuance of the street scape project is paramount to the success of the redevelopment of the downtown district. With a limited amount of resources, funds need to be allocated where they will produce the greatest impact in the areas of enhanced walkability, pedestrian safely, and increased sales tax revenue opportunities. We need to carefully study where the shovel goes in the ground next. Diversity is critical for the sustainability of the community. Critical to this area is affordable housing stock allowing first time buyers the opportunity to stay in Batavia, as opposed to putting down roots elsewhere, as well as providing the aging population the ability to call Batavia home through the retirement years on fixed incomes while having affordable tax rates.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
Freezing the City’s tax levy is not a safe or responsible thing to do until housing values rebound. The City is primarily a service organization. 73% of the City’s expenditures in the General Activities Fund are for employee wages, benefits and insurance. Police and Fire protection, and Public Works account for 72% of these expenditures, so to set a fixed levy amount could jeopardize the safety of the community which is not acceptable. From year to year budgeted revenues and expenditures are very dynamic and as a result unpredictable. To freeze the ability to adjust the tax levy would be to handcuff the elected officials who are charged with keeping a balanced budget while providing valued services to the community. The City’s portion of the taxpayers’ real estate taxes is less than eight percent of the taxpayers’ overall liability. The owner of a $300,000 home would have paid $8,084 in overall taxes, $632 to support city services in 2012. As you see, freezing only the City’s tax levy would provide minimal relief to a family budget. The real opportunity is to work with all the taxing bodies through intergovernmental agreements to eliminate redundancies which exist among the taxing bodies.
What one decision by the city council do you most disagree with and why?
The beginning of the streetscape project in downtown Batavia has been extremely successful in my estimation. The project created a tremendous amount of energy in this area of the downtown and significantly increased the number of businesses on and surrounding North River Street. North River Street is now at 100% occupancy, and Wilson street occupancy in the adjacent area has increased as well as a result of this project. One of the main objectives of the streetscape was to create a pedestrian safe and friendly atmosphere, and I do believe we have done that. During the planning phase of the project, it was considered and discussed as to whether or not to allow automotive traffic to continue to travel through this area. I regret that the city council did act more aggressively in turning North River Street into more of a Downtown Market Square or Plaza, prohibiting the use of cars making this remarkable space even more pedestrian friendly. I suspect after the street is closed to traffic for special events, this conversation may come up again, and I welcome it.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the city council in the past year?
I think the biggest accomplishment of the city council in the past year has been the annexation of the Mooseheart property into the city. While the fruits of this accomplishment will not be enjoyed as quickly as the streetscape, the annexation will prove to be significant to the City for many years to come. The annexation will provide for the city and all the taxing bodies an increase in EAV, while not adding any additional burden to the other taxing bodies. A significant portion of the land use of the annexed property will be dedicated to an adult community which will add to the tax base and not the School District enrollment. This also creates an additional diversity in housing, allowing our aging/empty nesting population the ability to downsize and remain in the community. With significant frontage to Randall Road, this annexation will also create a significant opportunity to increase sales tax revenues to the city and other taxing bodies, further reducing dependencies on property taxes. I also see this annexation as a means of connecting the area of the city west of Randall Road to the Fox River and the downtown by extension of the Fox River bike trails west from the river.
Why should voters elect you to office?
Eight years ago when I was asked by Mary McCarter who occupied the seat on the council I sit in today asked me to consider taking her place, I asked her “why me?”. Her reply was “You don’t have an ax to grind”. Four years ago, when it was time to consider continuing with my public service to the community the city administration and the city council made some very difficult decisions recognizing that the economy was not going to support the size of our organization. I felt obligated to see through to the end, a significant right sizing of the city work force and chose to serve the community again. It is debatable as to whether or not the economy has hit its lowest point, as a result, the need remains to hold firm on spending and measure the value of each tax dollar spent. This election 20% of the city council will turn do to vacancies, senior leadership is paramount as we yet have some work to do. Eight years later I don’t have an ax to grind, I made a choice to continue to serve you the taxpayers, and now I ask you to make a choice as well, Re-elect me Robert Liva to serve you for an additional four years. Learn more at www.liva-betteringbatavia.com.
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