Tag Archives: Jeff Walter

Last downtown lot still on the market

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—Advertised as the “last buildable lot on Main Street in Elburn,” the parking lot at Shannon and Main is getting a few nibbles, but so far, no buyers.

“I’ve had two or three calls and there’s one party in particular that seems to be interested,” said Marvin Vestuto, owner of Vestuto Real Estate Corporation, the property’s broker. “It’s a nice corner, a very attractive corner, one of the last ones I know of in the area.”

The vacant lot, which has been owned by Community Congregational Church for about 10 years, mostly has been used by employees in the area and some shoppers. Listed for $249,900, the property has been on the market since July.

Church moderator Sharon Lackey said it was put up for sale because it was time-consuming to maintain, especially in winter with snow removal.

“It took a lot of time and effort into clearing it off appropriately for public safety,” she said. “We just decided that we would rather spend our time on mission work for the community.”

Vestuto, who lives in unincorporated St. Charles and is a 30-year member of St. Gall Catholic Church, which is located kitty-corner from the lot, said he’d like to see the city make an offer.

“My personal feeling is it would be an ideal piece of property for the city,” he said. “If somebody else bought this thing, then the parking goes away, and then where are you going to park?”

But Village President Dave Anderson said he hates to see an empty lot right on Main Street, and would prefer to see another business to expand the downtown district. He mentioned the success of Geneva’s Third Street, which has a thriving business district.

“You can’t find a parking place; they’re busy,” Anderson said. “That’s what we want.”

Anderson said there is parking in the area to accommodate the Main Street businesses.

“We’ve got both sides going north and south on Main Street,” he said. “We’ve got tons of parking. You’ve got to walk a little bit.”

The Village Board is not all in agreement. Trustee Jeff Walter said the village should look into parking possibilities downtown.

“We really need to look at all that parking, which is private property,” Walter said. “It could very easily become private and then you’re not going to be able to park on it.”

While the matter has been discussed informally, the Village Board has yet to take any action to address downtown parking.

The lot is listed as nearly 17,700 square feet and zoned B-1 for commercial use. The village’s building code describes the B-1 zoning to include “the most desirable use of land” to protect and strengthen the economic base of the village.

While Lackey is hopeful the property will sell, she’s being cautiously optimistic.

“We’re kind of waiting for an actual offer,” she said. “We’re not getting too excited about anything when people just ask about it.”

Village favors change to Sunday liquor sales

	Elburn—A request from Dan Brizek, owner of Knuckleheads Tavern, to change Sunday sale hours for Liquor License Ordinance Class A from noon to 11 a.m. was approved. Trustee Jeff Walter said he thought it was a good idea and would give the class A licensees an extra hour for liquor sales. In his request, Brizek indicated this change would avoid the need to go before the board for a variance each time a special event or charity motorcycle run is planned and would also encourage customers to come into town earlier.

	The item was placed on the consent agenda for final approval at next week's Village board meeting.

Put a lid on it: recycle without being blown away

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—A group of Blackberry Creek subdivision resident-volunteers picked up 50 bags of refuse that had blown from recycling containers on just one clean-up day last weekend.

As a member of that group, Elburn Trustee Jeff Walter joined with the rest of the Elburn Village Board to take a closer look at Elburn’s Trash and Nuisance Ordinance. Guess what they found? It turns out the law currently on the books calls for lids on all refuse—and that includes recycling bins.

Only one problem—the containers provided by the garbage collection companies do not have lids. The result is that on windy days—frequent in this part of Illinois—plastic bags and newspapers litter the streets of Elburn.

“At the last minute, people place their newspapers on top (of the bin), and they blow away. They place their plastic bags on top, and they blow away,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

The board was supportive of the ordinance that required recycled items to be controlled. The only discussion was how to go about letting the residents of Elburn know that they need to make some changes.

“Give the Police Department some authority to give out P-tickets,” Walter said. “For somebody who is being neglectful, I wouldn’t be opposed to saying that the trash at the curb has to be bundled or otherwise (controlled).”

Trustee Jerry Schmidt agreed that enforcement was the way to go to get the problem under control as soon as possible.

“If you get just one ticket, that’s it: (You’ll change),” Schmidt said.

With the law already on the books, enforcement could conceivably start right away. Village Administrator Erin Willrett wanted the board to understand that they were agreeing to using police staffing hours in service of this ordinance, and that could use up a certain amount of time. Walter suggested a compromise.

“We don’t have to crack down right away. We could start with knocking on doors or leaving warnings first,” he said.

Other members wanted to highlight education over enforcement by taking the approach of educating the public first before enforcing the law.

“I’d like to continue with the educational format,” Ken Anderson said. “You can’t change human behavior by continuously enacting laws.”

Ken Anderson and Willrett expressed concerns that people might discontinue recycling if they cannot use their existing bin. Willrett plans to get the information to the public in the village’s June newsletter.

“There are ways to phrase it by saying that we are a green community and encourage recycling. We want to minimize refuse going into landfills, and the downsides to doing that are that on windy days, the trash is blowing all over,” Ken Anderson said. “If we see a change in people’s habits, then we know we’re going in the right direction.”

In the end, the Board decided to first get the information out to Elburn residents about the need to put a lid on their recycling containers. They would then begin enforcing the ordinance. They also may talk with the garbage collection companies about taking back the old containers.

“I’d like to see the entire community do (what BBK did with their clean-up day) a few times a year,” Dave Anderson said. “(Otherwise) we’re expending taxpayers’ money somewhere down the line to clean up.”

Recycling must be
contained from blowing

To comply with the ordinance currently in effect, all recycling must be contained in a way that prevents it from blowing away. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to provide a covered container.
1. Residents can modify their existing containers with a lid in any way that keeps papers and bags from blowing away. That might mean covering the items with netting or placing items in a tied plastic garbage bag.
2. Residents can purchase garbage cans with lids for recycled items.
3. Residents can rent or purchase 65-gallon containers with lids from the garbage collection companies.

Elburn passes budget with 4-1 vote

Sticking point for ‘no’ vote was personnel raises
by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board officially passed its 2011-12 fiscal year budget in a special Village Board meeting Monday. The vote was 4-1, with Ken Anderson opposed and Jerry Schmidt present but abstaining.

“We have an ending balance from last year of $5,325,902. That’s $1.1 million to the positive,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “This year’s budget, we probably won’t have as many line changes. We ended up with $280,000 more in the bank than we started with this fiscal year.”

The budget includes a 2 percent raise for all personnel, except administrators, and a contract-mandated raise of 3 percent for police.

Trustee Ken Anderson voted “no” to the budget on the issue of providing raises to village employees during these tough financial times.

“I appreciate everybody and the hard work they do for the village of Elburn. I would love to be able to (give the raises), but the time now is not the time to do it,” Ken Anderson said. “I’m trying to be fiscally responsible and continue to be ready for difficult times. Salaries are a major expense.”

Ken Anderson said that a variety of things could happen this year, such as the state not matching funds. Others believed that the village is in good shape.

“We have a cushion now in case we have something like a well issue,” Trustee Jeff Walter said. “We have enough to help us through a difficult time.”

The board also passed a supplemental budget appropriation that provides for the expenditure of funds not foreseen at the time the budget is adopted. The appropriation for this fiscal year is 1.2 percent over the budget.

Priorities, numbers needed to make a decision about water rate hike

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Discussion at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting centered on the need to have capital projects prioritized and numbers clarified in order to make a decision whether water and sewer rates should be increased.

The proposed increase would increase a current bill of $46.60 to $47.14, or 1.4 percent. The water rate per 100 cubic feet would go from $3.50 to $3.55, and the sewer from $2.60 to $2.64.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said that the estimated revenues from the rate increase in 2010 were less than anticipated.

“The total shortfall is just over $54,000 of what we estimated revenues to be. We didn’t get as much money as we thought we were going to get, but we looked at the other side (expenditures) and found ways to reduce spending,” Nevenhoven said. “We stopped the bleeding we’d been experiencing the last couple of years.”

Last year’s large rate increase came at a time when the village was losing over $20,000 each month. Prior to that increase, water rates hadn’t been raised since the 1980s and sewer rates since the 1990s.

Usage fell following the rate hike with the system pumping 4 million gallons less than prior to the increase.

“With the increased rate, people think about it when they turn on their faucets. That’s why revenues are short,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

The board discussed raising the base rate, which is currently $5 for both sewer and water. This money is used for capital improvements such as painting the water tower and replacing blowers. Additionally, a portion of the sewer revenue, approximately $1.10, is dedicated to repaying a $240,000 bond from Kane County. It will take 10 years to pay back the bond.

Trustee Jeff Walter emphasized that operational costs may not remain stable if people turn off their water to cut costs and that increasing the base charge makes sense. Bill Grabarek agreed.

“I’m hesitant to ask for a 1.4 percent increase in water bills,” he said. “I’d rather mess with the capital, not the operating money. I’d prefer to look at what it would be with the base charge (increase).”

In order to know how much money is actually needed, the board needs to know what projects have priority and what criteria is used. Also, village officials need to be able to inform the public that a rate hike is on the horizon. So, for the increase to be in effect by May 1, notification would need to be in the April 1 water bills.

“On Monday (at the village board meeting, March 21), you will see a project list and the staff-pick projects and recommendations,” Willrett said.

Finding funds for fun

Village considers how to update playground at community center
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—The Village Board gave the OK for village officials to apply for an Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in order to replace playground equipment at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center playground. The grant would reimburse the village 50 percent of what it spends on equipment.

“If we spend $100,000, we get $50,000,” said Jenna Cook, a Public Works Department employee who has been researching the grant.

Cook inspects all the equipment annually to appraise its condition. She said that the community center’s playground has been getting close to not passing the inspection. It is 25-year-old equipment that is outdated and rusting, she said.

Cook presented three options for replacing the equipment and removing the sand that has become infested with underground wasps. The first option, for $50,000, would make the playground half the size it is now. The second option would reduce its size by about a third and cost $70,000. The third option, for $100,000, would be a one-to-one replacement.

The playground is used by two classes of pre-school and day care in the summer. The wasps have stung the children, and there’s no way to get rid of the pests without removing the sand and replacing it with wood fiber or rubber chips.

“From the safety standpoint, we’ve got to do something,” Village President Dave Anderson said. “But to what extent do we want to commit funds?”

The Parks Fund currently has about $25,000 in it. Board members were in agreement that they wanted to look into the third option because it provides the best for the community.

“If we’re going to do it, let’s do it up right,” Trustee Jeff Walter said. “There are places (other funds) where we can get the money and get it done for the community.”

The grant is not due until July 1, giving the board time to consider how to find the funding it would need to purchase the playground equipment.

Village approves Elburn Station concept plan

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Elburn Village Board on Tuesday evening voted 5-1 to approve the Elburn station development’s concept plan. Jeff Walter was the sole vote opposing the plan.

Village Hall was filled with concerned citizens during the meeting in anticipation of the vote on whether to approve the concept plan for Elburn Station.

Sho-deen, Inc. of Geneva has been in talks with the village since 2005 about developing the land around the Metra station, north to Route 38 and south to Keslinger Road along an extended Anderson Road. The plan was originally approved in 2008, but when Sho-deen revised the plan to remove the commercial portion on Route 38 in October 2010, the Planning Commission voted not to recommend approval, and the resolution was tabled.

Citizens voiced concerns ranging from the impact on already devalued housing prices, to how the infrastructure can sustain the influx of new residents, to the intangibles that make a community unique.

“I purchased because of what Elburn is,” said resident Rocky Ruck. “If I wanted Naperville, I would have done that.”

Kane County Association of Realtors President-elect Christopher Tenggren said that housing inventory in Elburn is in the years, not the months, and that the community is still reeling from the Blackberry Creek project developed by B&B.

Others voiced concerns about rentals attracting more transient people to the community and burdening on already over-taxed school system.

“I’m concerned about the number of rentals and the impact on the schools,” said Bonnie White. “They are a financial burden that won’t be bringing in tax dollars.”

On the minds of Kane County and the village is $18 million in federal and state funds that are slated to be used to complete the Anderson Road overpass. Those funds could disappear, according to Catherine Hurlbut, chairman of the Kane County Division of Transportation, if progress is not shown in developing this area around Metra.

Approving the concept plan is step one. The next steps are to approve a preliminary plan and to annex the land surrounding the project. Currently, four property owners, including Sho-deen, would need to be annexed to the village before work on the bridge could continue.

“This concept plan is the bird’s eye view,” said Village Administrator Erin Willrett.

Dave Patzelt, Vice President of Development at Sho-deen, Inc., presented the changes that have been implemented in the plan since October.

“Even though the Planning Commission rejected a version, we took their comments as constructive criticism and made changes,” Patzelt said.

The changes to the original plan include lowering the density by reducing the number of multi-family houses originally proposed, adding additional green space, implementing a lift station, moving the fire station north, mirroring the townhomes on the west of Anderson south of Route 38 with townhomes to the east, changing multi-family houses to mixed-use spaces and providing vehicular access from Metra to downtown.

The number of housing units north of Metra has been reduced from 585 to 416. South of the tracks, the number has changed from 1,920 to 1,865. The increase in commercial space since October is now 70,000 square feet. Both village officials and Patzelt emphasized that the plan will change over the 20 years it will be in development.

“This is a concept plan. That’s all it is. It’s (the plan’s build-out is) 20 years, and it will change,” Anderson said. “We’ve talked to the (Elburn and Countryside) Fire District, the (Kaneland) School District, the (Town and Country Public) Library District, the Kane County Department of Transportation, the Kane County Development Department. Everybody, as of two weeks ago, has signed on.”

Tax levy discussion draws a crowd

Residents, officials discuss Elburn’s financial situation
by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—The announcement that the village of Elburn was going to ask for a 47 percent increase in the 2010 property tax levy to Kane County awakened a crowd of citizens to ask for the facts while expressing their protests.

The 2010 property tax levy of $939,718 would extend the tax rate to .49700. In other words, on a $300,000 house, taxpayers would pay $176.16 a year more in taxes.

That’s if the village gets the entire amount requested.

According to village officials, it’s not likely they will. Last year, the village asked for $742,321 and received $637,404.

Nevertheless, residents asked the hard questions at the public hearing Monday. Citing foreclosures and unemployment, food pantries and fixed incomes, people called for the village to take a hard look at its expenses.

“Take a hard look at reducing wages and salaries and other expenses—do hungry people and those on fixed incomes care if we are a Tree City USA?—before looking to increase taxes,” said Jack Hansen, an Elburn resident and former village trustee.

Where does the money come from?
Village President Dave Anderson explained that roughly one-third of the money the village collects comes from property taxes, one-third from local sales taxes, and another third from state income taxes.

Municipalities present their property tax levies to the county by the end of each year. The county, in the spring, determines the actual amount each municipality will receive, as well as the property tax rate.

Where does the money go?
Here’s where it gets dicey: you have mandated costs that the village has no control over like retirement funds, social security, liability insurance and an audit. These expenses cost the village more than it takes in from the tax levy.

In 2009, Kane County extended $120,414.17 to the village for retirement funds, but the actual cost to the village was $159,000. It received $63,285.43 for liability insurance, but paid out $92,000. Social Security cost the village $158,000, but it received only $87,920.17.

“We have zero control over mandated costs, other than letting people go, and then service is going to be diminished,” Anderson said. “The money has to come from somewhere.”

The only place cuts can be made are in the discretionary costs that involve cutting personnel, reducing salaries, losing services, and trimming day-to-day expenses.

“The residents brought up good comments, and I think we need to discuss, in depth, ways we could cut expenses before we raise taxes,” trustee Jerry Schmidt said.

The board discussed the difficult process of cutting. Ken Anderson reiterated his commitment to being fiscally responsible in the face of tough times.

“We can come up with a bunch of things to cut, but the village of Elburn is going to look different, and the village of Elburn is going to feel different,” he said. “But I’m going to keep saying it: when we get into the budget, we need to keep chipping away to be the leanest, meanest machine we can. We’ve got to do that.”

The state-mandated process ends when the village submits its levy to the Kane County Treasurer’s Office before the Dec. 28 deadline. After that, the village can discuss the budget in more detail.

“We ask for what we need. Are we going to get it? No. But if we don’t ask, then it’s shame on us,” Dave Anderson said. “If we don’t approve the levy, we get nada. We still have time left, through the budget process. That’s when we can make decisions.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the levy. Trustees Bill Grabarek and Jeff Walter were absent.

Proposed village budget has new IT expense

Mosquito abatement expenditure debated
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn’s proposed budget includes a new line item for 2011-12—an expenditure of $10,000 for information technology (IT) services formerly provided by a village employee.

The village no longer has a staffer to provide IT services, since David Morrison resigned last summer. Morrison had handled the village’s IT services as assistant village administrator and previously while he was village administrator.

Those services include tasks such as switching out office computers, installing software and maintaining server back-ups, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

Since Morrison resigned in June, the village has employed Baxter & Woodman Control Systems Integration to provide these and other general IT tasks at Village Hall, an unbudgeted expense.

The new IT expenditure was on a list of proposed administration budget items for the next fiscal year that Willrett presented Monday during the Development Committee meeting. The village’s other two departments, public works and police, recently presented their lists of proposed expenditures. The presentations are the first step in the village’s budgetary planning process, which will conclude in May when the Village Board approves a final fiscal-year budget.

“This was a first glance, a first go at it,” Willrett said.

Development Committee members did not object to the proposed new IT expenditure. However, they did question another proposed administrative expense that the village has budgeted for many years—mosquito abatement. Willrett included the $19,000 expenditure on her list.

Committee member Ken Anderson and Jeff Walter suggested that the village remove that item from the proposed administrative budget.

“We all know it (spraying for mosquitoes) is not effective,” Walter said.

The Village Board will begin reviewing Willrett’s and the other department heads’ budget proposals in November.

Sho-Deen development discussion on hold

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Several village officials are not sure whether they want Sho-Deen Inc. to reduce the commercial scope of the planned Elburn Station development on Elburn’s east side. Others are concerned about the residential density of the project.

The Elburn Village Board on Monday with a 4-2 vote tabled a motion to approve the Geneva developer’s request to eliminate a commercial parcel from the project plan. However, the board intends to continue discussing Sho-Deen’s proposal.

“This can be brought forward (again) at a future meeting,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

Sho-Deen no longer wants to develop the parcel that is just north of Route 38. That section includes most of the plan’s commercial development.

Trustees Jerry Schmidt and Patricial Romke opposed tabling the motion. Dave Anderson and trustees Jeff Walter, Ken Anderson and Bill Grabarek voted to table it.

“The (potential) loss of that commercial bothers me,” Grabarek said.

Sho-Deen representative Dave Patzelt said that just because an area is zoned commercial does not mean businesses will want to locate there. However, his comment did not sway Grabarek.

“I can’t go with it right now,” Grabarek said. “Not without the commercial property north of 38.”

Sho-Deen Inc. first proposed Elburn Station to the village in January 2007. The development property is on the east side of the village between Route 38 and Keslinger Road.

Plans for Elburn Station feature single-family homes on lots ranging in width from 30 to 80 feet; multi-family housing within a half-mile around the Metra station with density up to 12 units per acre; and commercial areas on the north and south sides.

Aside from the proposed removal of most of the Elburn Station commercial property, the development’s density concerns several trustees.

“How does having more people … benefit the village of Elburn?” Ken Anderson said.

Walter said, “You are putting too many people in a small area.”

Trustees Walter and Anderson were not on the Village Board when it approved the existing concept plan for Elburn Station in March 2008. In that plan, the total number of planned residences was approximately 3,000, including up to 1,000 multi-family units.

Schmidt was not on the board in 2008 either, but he said he likes the existing concept plan’s multi-family housing, particularly if Sho-Deen builds condominiums rather than apartments.

“I like the whole (Elburn Station) concept,” Schmidt said Tuesday. “In today’s market, things change. Sho-Deen said they could offer Elburn something it doesn’t have.”

Romke said Monday that Elburn’s multi-family units would be a housing opportunity for singles, younger professionals and retirees, which could attract new businesses to Elburn.

“The whole trend in housing is to go smaller,” Romke said.

Romke also said that she approves of Sho-Deen’s desire not to develop the commercial portion of Elburn Station north of Route 38, adding that she does not want the area “to turn into another Randall Road.”

On Oct. 5, the Elburn Planning Commission voted 4-2 not to recommend Village Board approval of the proposed change.

Credit-card option will boost Metra parking fee

ELBURN—The Elburn Finance Committee recommended on Monday that the village implement a credit-card payment option for Metra station parking.

Electronic payment machines for commuters to pay for parking with credit cards were installed at the Metra station in January. However, commuters still have had to pay the $1.25-per-day for parking in cash, since the system has not yet been activated. When it is, the parking fee will go up by 25 cents.

“There are several steps that need to happen before it can be implemented,” Finance Committee Chairman Jeff Walter. “Since we will have an increased cost in credit-card transaction fees and the monthly per-machine fee to accept credit cards, the parking rate will have to increase to $1.50. This is consistent with other lots in the area (LaFox and others) that offer a credit card option.”

The village needs approval from Metra to raise the train station parking fee in Elburn, and then a public hearing must take place regarding the use of credit cards.

When the electronic payment system is activated, residents also may use the machines at the train station to pay village water bills, fines, and license renewal fees.

Two payment booths at the Metra station each have four electronic payment terminals.

Walter, who commutes daily by train to work, is looking forward to being able to pay for parking with a credit card.

“I believe that the increased convenience and speed of the transaction (will be a) plus,” Walter said. “Punching in your spot and swiping a card seems like it would be much faster, especially on a nice minus 20-degree February morning. Plus, you (won’t) have to worry about having the cash every day.”

Walter said village officials expect that 33 percent of Metra riders will use the credit card option.

Elburn mission statement emphasizes ‘small-town values’

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Although a proposed mission statement for the village of Elburn emphasizes small-town values, it does not mean that the village’s philosophy is anti-growth, Village President Dave Anderson said.

Trustee Jerry Schmidt said during Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting that he was concerned that “small-town” indicates that Elburn does not want to grow. But Anderson said it means that as growth occurs, the village will retain its small-town values.

“When we get to 15,000 people, hopefully we will have those same values,” Anderson said.

Anderson said small-town values “encompasses a lot of things … it’s like ‘Cheers’—everybody knows your name. To me that’s a small-town value, when you recognize people and say hello on the street.”

Trustee Jeff Walter said “everything in the mission statement should be definable.” He wants the board to talk further about what is meant by “small-town values” in the mission statement.

Walter said Wednesday that he interprets small-town values to mean “conservative, family-oriented, Christian, open and friendly.”

“That really is what we are,” said Walter.

However, he added that other people might not define small-town values in the same way.

The mission statement will be the philosophy behind every decision that village officials make in the future, said Anderson, who composed the statement with feedback from the Planning Commission.

The mission statement will be on the Village Board agenda on Monday, May 3, for further discussion and possible board approval.

Proposed mission statement for Elburn:
“We are and shall be an innovative community that maintains
small-town values while working to enhance the quality of life of our
residents; promote and support our businesses; and welcome
new opportunities which enable the Village of Elburn to be the ideal place
to live, work, worship and play.”

Officials ponder employee-related budget cuts

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn officials are looking at employee-related expenses to see where cuts possibly can be made to reduce an expected $760,000 shortfall in the village’s next fiscal-year budget, which they plan to finalize during the next few weeks.

Salaries and employee benefits comprise approximately one third of the village’s 2010-11 tentative budget of $5.3 million.

Village officials recently cut one secretarial position that paid nearly $42,000 annually plus benefits. The position was one of two secretaries in the Public Works Department. In addition, last year, the village eliminated a part-time Police Department secretary salary and reduced an administrative assistant’s hours.

Village administrator Erin Willrett said if the village made any more staff cuts, a reduction in resident services would result.

Other options for reducing employee-related expenses were discussed during the March 22 meeting of the Committee of the Whole, which is composed of all Village Board members.

The committee talked about reducing support-staff hours permanently or during the summer months, and eliminating the life insurance premiums the village pays for employees. The latter cut would save $14,000 annually; however, several committee members opposed cutting that benefit, which provides employees with a $25,000 life insurance policy.

Another savings of $18,200 could come from eliminating the take-home vehicles the village provides for some employees. Currently, three department heads have that benefit. The village owns the three SUVs, and pays for all gasoline, insurance and maintenance for them.

Trustee Jeff Walter said only one department head should have a take-home vehicle.

“I think this (benefit) is something that should be eliminated, except for the chief of police,” Walter said. “We could talk about a vehicle stipend per month (for the other department heads).”

Committee members did not come to a consensus on any of the proposed cuts in employee-related expenses. They did decide that the village should retain one employee benefit, the annual staff party at a restaurant at a cost of approximately $2,700. About 62 village employees and public officials are invited to the holiday event.

Trustee Patricia Romke said that since the village is not giving raises, the party was the “one thing that (it was) able to do for employees.”

Village President Dave Anderson agreed.

“It’s a nice thank you from the Village Board to the employees,” Anderson said.

When asked later whether the village might choose to budget for an in-house village staff party that would be less costly in 2010, Anderson said, “I just never thought of it. That might be something we might want to consider.”

Customer fee vs. higher water-sewer usage

Solution still uncertain for service’s budget shortfall
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Elburn trustees do not all agree that a customer fee is the best or only way to raise water and sewer revenue.

Three trustees suggested Monday that the village should raise usage rates.

“At least we’d be saying, ‘We’re going to charge you for the true cost of the water and sewer, not charge you a surcharge,’” trustee William Grabarek said.

Village officials in February proposed a combined water and sewer customer fee of $20 monthly in addition to the existing usage fees, and since have proposed lowering the base fee to $10, beyond usage charges.

The usage rates have been the same for many years—$2 per cubic foot (cf) for sewer and $2.69 per 100 cf for water, which some trustees think is too low.

“We have underpriced our water and sewer for a long time,” Grabarek said.

Grabarek suggested raising the combined water and sewer usage rate from $4.69 to $7 per 100 cf.

For more than a year, water and sewer operations have cost the village nearly $29,000 more per month than the village collects in water and sewer revenue. Village officials’ goal is for water and sewer service charges to match the cost of providing them.

“At $7 (combined water and sewer usage rate), we would make up the deficit in two years,” Grabarek said.

Charging that rate also would increase revenue in the water and sewer capital fund to pay for future system improvements, Grabarek said.

If the village raises usage rates, it would encourage water conservation, trustee Ken Anderson said.

Grabarek said seniors, single people and other low users would not pay as much under the higher rate as they would if the village imposed the customer fee.

In response to Grabarek’s rate-hike proposal, Village President Dave Anderson said, “An increase like that for high users is going to be prohibitive.”

Another idea for changing water and sewer fees that trustee Jeff Walter supports is to raise usage rates and to impose a temporary customer fee to build up the water and sewer capital fund.

Walter asked village staff to determine this week how much water and sewer bills would increase for certain households under the various proposed fee scenarios.

The Village Board will continue its discussion of water and sewer charges during the Committee of the Whole meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, March 8, at Village Hall.

What area villages charge
Maple Park
Water: Minimum bill of $26.76 every three months for up to 6,000 gallons, plus $3.84 for every additional 1,000 gallons

Sewer: $32.28 minimum for up to 6,000 gallons, plus $5.38 per 1,000 gal.

Elburn
Water: Minimum monthly bill of $5 including $3.60 per 1,000 gallons for water ($2.69/100 cf)

Sewer: Minimum monthly bill of $5 including $2.67 per 1,000 gallons ($2/100 cf)

Sugar Grove
Water and sewer: $15.50 customer charge per month, plus $2.75 per 1,000 gallons for water, and $2.76 per 1,000 gallons for sewer

Committee: Use utility tax for village operations

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—In the past, Elburn has dipped into the money residents pay in utility taxes to help keep the village operating. Now, village officials say those taxes should be permanently designated for that purpose.

On Monday, Committee of the Whole members recommended that utility taxes from residential gas and electric bills be revenue for the general operating fund, which pays for village salaries and operations.

“I think the operating fund is the right place for this,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

In the past, the utility taxes collected by the village have not had a designated purpose, other than to reimburse seniors for part of their taxes.

“The fund has just been building a bit,” Anderson said.

Village officials periodically have transferred money from the utility tax fund into the operating fund to keep the budget vital. If the Village Board agrees, the $346,000 fund balance will be transferred to the general fund to help combat the village’s revenue crunch.

“Let’s move forward and make it a permanent move in the next budget,” committee member and village trustee Jeff Walter said.

Village officials: New employee handbook a must

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The first draft of a new employee manual, a priority project for the village, is nearly finished. The manual will reflect workplace legislation and village policies that were established since the current handbook was created 17 years ago, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said.

Trustee Jeff Walter said he pushed for the re-write of the employee manual since coming into office in April.

“I want to make sure our manual is up to date and in sync with current human resource trends and regulations,” Walter said. “I also want to ensure that we correctly define which employees are exempt (from certain wage and hour laws, i.e. overtime pay) and that the manual outlines appropriate policies for those considered exempt (management).”

Some of the other sections of the handbook that need updating relate to safety rules, computer and Internet policies, harassment policies, military leave information and jury duty, Willrett said.

The manual will encompass all village departments including police. The village has approximately 23 full-time employees and 16 part-time employees, all of whom must abide by the manual, Willrett said.

The employee handbook will be entirely new.

“We’re not just blacklining the old employee manual,” Village President Dave Anderson said.

The village is paying a consultant, Aurora-based Sikich, $6,000 to create the new employee handbook.

Sikich also will train village department supervisors about how to use the manual properly and how to proceed when an employee has a workplace concern.

During last year’s 2009-10 budget discussions, Village officials indicated that they wanted the manual to be a priority, Willrett said.

St. Charles organization offers to promote Elburn

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau wants to promote Elburn attractions in order to draw more tourists to the area.

“We’d like to bring visitors to Elburn and see them stay at St. Charles hotels,” said Egolf during Monday’s Elburn Development Committee meeting.

If Elburn officials agree to participate in a joint program, the St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau will list Elburn attractions in its tourist guides at no cost to the village.

Development Committee members like the proposal and recommended that the Village Board approve it.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” Committee member and trustee Jeff Walter said. “It will be some promotion we don’t have now.”

Among the Elburn entities Egolf has identified to list in the Bureau’s publications are Amazing Grace Antiques, Heritage Prairie Farm, Ream’s Elburn Market, the Metra station, the Great Lakes Leadership Campus, Elburn Days and the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club.

Egolf said the St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau works with the Illinois Bureau of Tourism, which would include Elburn’s attractions in state visitors guides.

The St. Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau is supported by city and state funding.

Neighbors are game for fun and charity

Annual Blackberry Creek Turkey Bowl collects more food each year
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn—For many people, a friendly backyard football game is standard Thanksgiving Day fare, as much as a turkey with trimmings. Thanks to several families in Blackberry Creek, that annual tradition helps others fill their tables during the holiday season.

The Blackberry Creek Charity Turkey Bowl has taken place every Thanksgiving since 2005. The event’s founders, Jeff Walter and Mark Wilson, started the event as a way to bring friends and neighbors together for a holiday game, and thought it also would provide a perfect opportunity to collect items for the Elburn Food Pantry.

They were right. People have been as enthusiastic about the food collection as they have been about the football game, with drop-offs and participation steadily increasing.

“The first year we had about 10 or 15 players, and now we’re able to field two teams,” said Walter, who is an Elburn trustee.

The players, and friends and family members who attend the touch football game, all bring canned goods and other nonperishable food items to the south Blackberry Creek playing field before the event, which starts at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

“I just open up the lift gate on my (SUV) and as people come they throw the stuff in,” Walter said.

Turkey Bowl participants and spectators the first year filled a box with donated food, and last year collected about 200 pounds of items including cases of vegetables, baked beans and soup.

“It’s gotten better every year,” said Walter, who takes the donated food to the Elburn Food Pantry after Thanksgiving.

The pantry, located at the Elburn & Countryside Community Center, relies on many sources for food donations to help keep its shelves full, from businesses and churches to organizations and community members like the Blackberry Creek Turkey Bowl group. After last year’s holiday season, pantry coordinator Rita Burnham said in a letter to the Elburn Herald editor that all of these groups are helping to meet the ever-increasing demand in the community for food assistance.

“There still is definitely an increase in the need,” Burnham said Wednesday. “Every food pantry says that, and we’re no different.”

Last Thursday, 69 people went to the food pantry to receive bags of food, compared to the 40 clients the pantry typically serves weekly, Burnham said.

“Our numbers have really increased; if we don’t have consistent food drives it will be difficult to provide what we do.”

4th annual Blackberry Creek Charity Turkey Bowl
8 a.m. Thanksgiving
Behind Blackberry Elementary School
Bring your neighbors, friends, relatives and families
Bring a canned or dried food item for the Elburn Pantry
For more info call:
Mark Wilson, (630) 461-8126, or
Jeff Walter, (630) 365-3707

Photo: Blackberry Creek Turkey Bowl players assemble on the south soccer field at 8 a.m. every Thanksgiving to take part in a touch football game, and to collect canned goods and other nonperishable edibles for the Elburn Food Pantry. The neighborhood group welcomes spectators and participants, as well as additional food donation.
Courtesy Photo

Committee wants senior tax rebates restored

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board eliminated municipal utility tax rebates for seniors, less than two months ago. Since then, some residents have asked that the program be reinstated, village officials said.

In response, the Elburn Finance Committee recommended Monday that the board restore the rebate program, with some changes.

The committee recommended reinstating the program only for seniors age 65 and older with annual household incomes of no more than $55,000.

“We want to help the people who really need it,” committee member and trustee Bill Grabarek said.

The committee also recommended allowing the rebates only for gas and electric bill taxes, not for telephone service.

Village President Dave Anderson, who attended the meeting, agreed with making the changes before restoring the program, saying the rebates should apply only to necessary services.

“You need heat, you need light,” Anderson said.

Village officials said the reason for the changes is that some individuals abused the program in the past by requesting refunds for several different phones, and that people who could afford the utility taxes obtained rebates.

Finance Committee members, who voted unanimously Monday to recommend the board’s reinstatement of the senior utility tax rebate program, were trustees Patricia Romke, Jeff Walter and Bill Grabarek, as well as Village Treasurer Mike Greenen.

On Sept. 21, trustees Patricia Romke, Bill Grabarek, Ken Anderson and Jerry Schmidt voted to eliminate the program 4-0. Trustees Gordon Dierschow and Jeff Walter were absent from the board meeting. Village officials at that time said doing away with the program for 2009 could save more than $10,000.

Village staff will estimate what the program will cost after the eligibility changes are made, Village Administrator David Morrison said. Then, the Village Board will decide whether to approve the committee’s recommendations.

Majority of board says no to video gambling

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—A majority of trustees want to ban video gambling in Elburn. So although a new state law would allow the activity, it will not be coming to Elburn while the current board is in place, unless one of the opposing trustees changes his, or her, mind.

Following its second discussion in a week about whether to allow video gambling in Elburn, the Village Board on Monday voted against it. The board then directed the village attorney to draft an ordinance banning video gambling in the village.

Only one trustee, Jerry Schmidt, voted in favor of allowing video gambling in the village, saying it would be a pro-growth measure.

“If we ban it in Elburn and they have it in other towns, people are going to go there instead,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said video gambling also would boost the village budget through tax revenue it would produce.

Voting to ban video gambling were trustees Patricia Romke, Bill Grabarek, Jeff Walter and Ken Anderson. Trustee Gordon Dierschow abstained from voting, saying the village should take more time to decide.

Grabarek said he wanted to ban video gambling now, as a “pre-emptive measure,” before the state adopts regulations he worries might prevent the village from banning it later. He said state estimates of tax revenue that video gambling could generate are way overstated. He added that most of the money from video gambling would go to bar owners.

“To me, that keeps the money within too small a circle,” Grabarek said.

The reason Romke voted for the ban was that she wants family-oriented businesses in Elburn, and if she had small children, she would not want to take them into an establishment with gambling. She said she finds the possibility of Elburn being a gambling destination, “scary.”

“It does not, in my opinion, fit the village of Elburn,” Romke said.

Trustee Ken Anderson is opposed to having video gambling in the village, because it could promote addiction to the activity, which he said can cause serious problems for gamblers and their families, he said.

Trustee Walter said most of the residents he has talked to about the issue are against having video gambling in Elburn. Like Grabarek, he said unless the village places a moratorium now on video gambling, he is concerned that it could lose the opportunity for that control.

Village President Dave Anderson said he understands the fear of not being able to opt out later, but is concerned that future regulations also might prevent the village from reversing a ban on video gambling.

When the ordinance banning video gambling is ready for the Village Board to vote on, he would not participate unless his vote was required to break a tie.

Trustees say public works staffing a budget priority

Village will set 2009-10 spending before end of July
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn—Before the Elburn Village Board passes a new annual budget later this month, trustee Jeff Walter wants to make sure it allocates money for more public works department employees.

“The department is seriously understaffed,” Walter said.

Walter said more staff is required for the many projects the department needs to tackle, including significant sewer maintenance, sidewalk and street repairs, and road restriping.

“These are extremely important,” Walter said.

Trustee Gordon Dierschow agreed.

“The Public Works Department definitely needs help. We have some serious problems that have to be taken care of,” Dierschow said.

Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven recently asked village officials to include $83,692 in the new budget for two new laborers.

Dierschow also wants the village budget to designate money for additional part-time police officers.

Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith asked the village to allocate money in the new budget for three additional part-time police positions; the officers would be paid an average of $20 hour with no overtime or benefits, he said. Smith also wants to hire another full-time officer who would be paid between $46,362 and $53,670.

Hiring additional staff will be a challenge for the village since its revenue has declined because of the drop in building permit fees and utility connection fees it has collected in recent months. Because of revenue constraints, Walter said he is glad that village staff are not seeking raises for 2009-10.

“I think it’s a very prudent move this year,” Walter said.

Dierschow said sales tax from the new Walgreen’s, set to open soon at Route 47 and Route 38, could help cover the cost of more employees. He said keeping expenses down in other areas will help, as well. Dierschow wants the budget to include only the most crucial public works projects this year, including repairing sidewalks that pose safety risks.

“We could forgo all but the most treacherous,” Dierschow said.

Village establishes a second Class A liquor license

Officials with conflicts of interest did not vote Monday
by Martha Quetsch
The Elburn Village Board established a second Class A liquor license Monday following Kevin Schmidt’s recent application for that type of license for a bar at 107 N. Main St.

A Class A license permits a bar to sell liquor for consumption on site and packaged liquor.

Schmidt said he wants to obtain the liquor license before proceeding with the plan for his business. His application requires approval by the Liquor Commissioner and Village Board.

Just before the discussion and vote on the matter, Village President and Liquor Commissioner Dave Anderson appointed, with Village Board consent, a Deputy Liquor Control Commissioner, trustee Bill Grabarek.

Anderson appointed Grabarek and did not take part in the discussion and vote regarding increasing the number of Class A licenses because he owns the property where Schmidt wants to open the business.

“I will be excusing myself because of conflict of interest,” Anderson said.

For the same reason, trustee Jerry Schmidt, Kevin Schmidt’s father, also excused himself from the discussion and vote about the second Class A license.

Grabarek and the board agreed to make the new license available through an ordinance it approved Monday. They are expected to decide in the near future whether to grant the license to Schmidt.

The village previously had one Class A license, held by Knucklehead’s Tavern. Elburn reduced the number of available Class A licenses from two after Emma’s Pub & Cantina closed in 2008; Emma’s shut down after the village called a hearing in 2008 to suspend the business’ liquor license because of illegal gambling on the premises.

Attorney will review regulations
Kevin Schmidt asked village officials whether under the Class A liquor license he is seeking for a bar in Elburn, children may eat there even if liquor sales exceed food sales, he said.

Officials at the Elburn Village Board meeting Monday were not certain if it is allowed under the current municipal liquor ordinance. So Village Attorney Bob Britz said he will study the ordinance to make that determination.

Trustee Jeff Walter said he hopes children are allowed in establishments like the one Schmidt plans.

“It’s a big point right now, having restaurants where we can take our families,” Walter said.

Schmidt wants to open the bar at 107 N. Main St.

SG seeks Elburn’s support for I-88 interchange expansion

by Martha Quetsch
Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels wants a letter of support from the Elburn Village Board for the proposed full-access interchange at I-88 and Route 47. However, two Elburn trustees said the village should seek something in return.

“I’d like to see some quid pro quo,” trustee Jeff Walter said.

Elburn’s approval will help Sugar Grove obtain government funding for the $25 million project, which will bring development to Sugar Grove, Michels said.

“We’d be in a much better position to get federal money, whether stimulus or transportation bill funds, if we have regional support,” Michels said Tuesday.

Elburn trustees reviewed Michels’ request during the Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.

Walter is concerned that if the interchange is expanded, it will attract so much development that Sugar Grove quickly might start annexing property northward along Route 47 toward Elburn. Before that happens, Walter wants the two villages to agree on annexation boundaries.

Trustee Ken Anderson wants boundaries established, too, with a buffer zone between the two villages.

Michels said Tuesday that he is in favor of creating boundaries, but that the Elburn and Sugar Grove village boards in the past could not agree what those should be. He hopes that with three new trustees, the Elburn board will be able to come to an agreement with Sugar Grove.

Village President Dave Anderson told trustees he will discuss trustees’ concerns with Michels before bringing the interchange project letter-of-support request to the Village Board for a vote.

Currrently, no eastbound off-ramp or westbound on-ramp exists at I-88 and Route 47.

Elburn trustee Ken Anderson also suggested Sugar Grove could use its developer funds to help pay for the Anderson Road extension and railway overpass to alleviate traffic congestion expected in Elburn after the interchange is built.

Designs created
Sugar Grove has design options for the proposed expansion of the I-88 interchange at Route 47 it will present to the Illinois Department of Transportation for review. The designs are part of a $200,000 study conducted by a consultant during the past few months. The Elburn Village Board last year declined to support the study.

Proposed structure calls for more meetings

Board to decide May 18 whether to establish committees
by Martha Quetsch
If the Elburn Village Board establishes committees, trustees and some staff members will have more meetings to attend. However, the work they can accomplish will be worth their extra time, Village President Dave Anderson said.

The specialized committees would focus on separate village issues and make recommendations to the Village Board.

“For the most part, we will trust their recommendations,” Anderson said during Monday’s Village Board meeting. “I have seen it work.”

Anderson proposed creating the committees when he took office on May 4.

The committees Anderson designated are Finance, chaired by trustee Jeff Walter; Public Works, chaired by trustee Jerry Schmidt; Development, chaired by trustee Ken Anderson; and Public Safety, chaired by trustee Bill Grabarek.

Each committee would include three trustees and at least two staff members, meeting as often as twice a month.

Before the committees can be formally established, the Village Board must approve an ordinance allowing for them. Trustees are expected to vote on the ordinance on Monday, May 18.

Currently, all Elburn trustees gather twice a month to discuss village issues during their Committee of the Whole (COW) meetings. The COW structure has been in place for nearly 10 years.

Issues trustees talk about at COW meetings can be placed later on a Village Board “consent agenda,” allowing the board to decide on several matters with one vote.

However, commitee recommendations may not be placed on a consent agenda. So, each issue would require a separate vote, Grabarek said.

Anderson wants the committees to meet at often as twice a month for a period of time, and then possibly once a month.

“It’s going to take awhile to get comfortable and to know what our roles are on the committee side,” Anderson said.

Anderson said the committees will allow for more in-depth involvement and lead to more educated recommendations than are possible at the COW level.

Grabarek said he supports creating committees but wants trustees still to have the option to meet together as the COW.

Anderson reinstates board committees

by Martha Quetsch
After former Illinois Supreme Court Justice John Nickels swore in Village President Dave Anderson on Monday, Anderson said he wants to establish a committee structure for the board.

Committees were in place when Anderson was on the Village Board in the 1970s.

The committees will be made up of trustees and staff members who will research and discuss village issues and bring their findings to the board. The Village Board unanimously approved the committees and members Anderson assigned: Finance, chaired by trustee Jeff Walter; Public Works, chaired by trustee Jerry Schmidt; Development, chaired by trustee Ken Anderson; and Public Safety, chaired by trustee Bill Grabarek.

The committees will meet regularly, with dates and times to be announced.

Before the committees can be formally established, the Village Board must approve an ordinance allowing for them. Trustees are expected to vote on the ordinance on Monday, May 18.

Village Board Committees

Finance
Trustee Jeff Walter, Chairman
Trustee Bill Grabarek
Trustee Patricia Romke
Village Treasurer Mike Greenen
Village Administrator Erin Willrett

Public Works
Trustee Jerry Schmidt, Chairman
Trustee Gordon Dierschow
Trustee Ken Anderson
Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven
Village Administrator Erin Willrett

Development
Trustee Ken Anderson, Chairman
Trustee Jeff Walter
Trustee Gordon Dierschow
Planning Commissioner Jeff Metcalf
Fire district representative
Community Development Director David Morrison
Village Administrator Erin Willrett

Public Safety
Trustee Bill Grabarek, Chairman
Trustee Patricia Romke
Trustee Jerry Schmidt
Fire district representative
Police Chief Steve Smith
Village Administrator Erin Willrett

Outgoing Elburn officials praised for work

New trustees, village president to take office May 4
by Martha Quetsch
Elburn Village President Jim Willey and trustees Tom Burgholzer, Jeff Humm and Craig Swan received thanks Monday from other village officials for the work on behalf of the village during their terms of office.

Among those expressing appreciation during the Committee of the Whole meeting was 14-year Village Attorney Bob Britz.

“I have had the opportunity to work with all of you and I am a better person for having served under you,” Britz said.

Eight-year trustee Burgholzer and six-year trustee Jeff Humm sought re-election unsuccessfully April 4; and 14-year trustee Craig Swan and 12-year Village President Willey did not run for another term.

Trustee Bill Grabarek complimented Willey for his “intelligence, insightfulness and ability to take complex issues and make them understandable.”

“It’s been an honor. Elburn is an infinitely better village, better run and managed-90 percent due to you,” Grabarek told Willey.

Willey said before he took office in 1997, the board was “contentious and divided.” He thanked the outgoing trustees for helping to make the Village Board a consensus-building body. He recognized Humm’s useful expertise in infrastructure matters, Burgholzer’s comittment to providing more recreation for residents, and Swan for being the “conscience of the board” and for running for trustee when no one else would.

The last day in office for the outgoing board members is Monday, May 4, when Elburn’s three new trustees, Jeff Walter, Jerry Schmidt and Ken Anderson, and the new village president, Dave Anderson, will be sworn into office at 7 p.m. during the Village Board meeting at Lions Park clubhouse.

Elburn village notes

by Martha Quetsch
Elburn officials to be sworn in at Lions Park
Elburn’s three new trustees, Jeff Walter, Jerry Schmidt and Ken Anderson, and the new village president, Dave Anderson, will be sworn into office during the Elburn Village Board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 4.

The meeting will take place at the Lions Park clubhouse in Elburn.

Elected April 4, the three new board members will replace two-term trustee Tom Burgholzer and one-term trustee Jeff Humm, who ran unsuccessfully, and 14-year trustee Craig Swan, who did not seek re-election.

Dave Anderson will fill the village president position held for the past 12 years by Jim Willey, who did not seek re-election.

Dental office receives grant
Elburn Dentist Richard Stewart thanked village officials for providing a façade improvement grant to help pay for exterior renovations to his office at 135 S. Main St., Elburn.

During the Village Board meeting April 20, Stewart said the redesign is nearly finished and will include awnings and outdoor plantings.

Stewart received the maximum grant available-$10,000-from the façade grant program the village started a few years ago to help improve the downtown.

Express Evaluations also availed themselves of the grant program, in 2007, to enhance the outside of the building at 17 S. Main St.

The grant program requires businesses to provide matching funds for façade projects.

Learning curve set to begin

New officials will obtain information on their role, authority
by Martha Quetsch
For the newly elected Elburn village president and trustees, filling their positions will require more than just taking their seats.

The three new trustees, Jeff Walter, Jerry Schmidt and Ken Anderson, and the new village president, Dave Anderson, will be sworn into office during the Elburn Village Board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, May 4, at Lions Park.

Next, to make the transition easier for Elburn’s newest board members, Village Attorney Robert Britz will provide the new public officials with an overview of board procedures and protocol.

Britz’ presentation will take place from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at Village Hall. Anderson hopes that every village trustee attends, as well as village staff members.

Topics Britz will cover include the Open Meetings Act and the responsibilities and authority trustees have, Anderson said.

“It will be a very useful presentation for all of us,” Anderson said.

The discussion also will feature an explanation of certain terminology, such as ordinances versus resolutions.

Ken Anderson served on the Planning Commission; Schmidt briefly was once an Elburn trustee; and Dave Anderson was on the Village Board in the 1970s. Walter, however, is new to village government. He is looking forward to finding out more about how to work with village employees on board issues.

“I want to know what our ability is in communicating with staff if we need research done (for example),” Walter said.

Current Village President Jim Willey said soon after they take office, new trustees will participate in establishing the budget for the next year.

“Right off the bat, in May and June, they will be working on the budget. It can be confusing for a new board member,” said Willey.

Willey suggested that the new trustees “really dig into it to see where the monies are coming from and where they flow out to,” and understand that expenditures must be from the appropriate fund.

He said the coming months will be a “learning curve” for new trustees.

Letter: Thank you, Elburn!

I want to thank the voters of Elburn for getting out to vote on Tuesday, April 7, and especially for entrusting the care of the village to myself and the other newly elected board members.

Electing three new members to the board sends a strong message, and please rest assured that your message has been received. I am looking forward to working with the new board president and all of the other trustees to build on the great things that have been done and to further the vision of making Elburn into the community that everyone who lives here brags about.

I also want to thank my wife, Carrie, and my family, without whose support and encouragement I would not be in the great place that I am today. Thank you to all of our friends and neighbors who supported me by putting out signs, by talking to their friends and neighbors and by voting.

Again, thank you for this incredible opportunity to serve you, the village of Elburn.

Jeff Walter
Elburn

Elburn voters pick Anderson

by Martha Quetsch
Elburn voters elected the first new village president in more than 12 years on Tuesday, Dave Anderson. Anderson defeated his opponent, Village Trustee Patricia Romke, 666 to 167.

“Plain old support” is what brought about his victory, Anderson said.

“People know me and, I believe, respect some of the things I have done, and they made their voices heard,” Anderson said.

A lifelong Elburn resident and former owner of The Grocery Store downtown, Anderson will replace three-term Village President Jim Willey. Willey announced last fall that he would not seek re-election.

Romke, an Elburn trustee whose term ends in 2011, called Anderson last night to congratulate him. She is looking forward to working with him on the Village Board.

“I will fully support him for the next two years, and as a team, I hope we can get a lot accomplished,” she said.

Running for village president was “hard work but a great experience,” particularly being able to meet and talk to so many residents during her campaign, said Romke, a Realtor who has lived in Elburn for nine years.

Anderson said as soon as he is sworn in later this month, he will start working on “a lot of little things that will add up to major changes.” He declined to say what those changes will be.

He also plans to put a board committee structure in place, and said that pursuing the construction of the Anderson Road bridge and extension, and addressing stormwater issues, will be his top priorities after taking office.

Voters also elected three new Village Board trustees, Jeff Walter, Jerry Schmidt and Ken Anderson. The three new board members will replace trustees Tom Burgholzer and Jeff Humm, who ran unsuccessfully, and trustee Craig Swan, who did not seek re-election.

Anderson has been Blackberry Township Supervisor for more than 10 years, a seat that will be filled by Dave Richmond. Richmond was the only candidate for the position.

Anderson has been on the Village Board before, as a trustee in the 1970s when the Village Board established a land-use plan, built the wastewater treatment plant, and hired its first village administrator.

His public service also has included being the past president of the Kaneland School Board and a three-term member of that board; a member of the former Kane County Criminal Justice Commission; and a member of the Kane County Regional Planning Commission and the Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals.

Elburn trustee candidates tout experience, insight

by Martha Quetsch
Seven residents are running for three seats on the Elburn Village Board April 7. Among them are two incumbents, Jeff Humm and Tom Burgholzer, Ken Anderson, who is a Planning Commissioner, and four newcomers, David Gualdoni, Jerry Schmidt, Robert Swartz and Jeff Walter.

Ken Anderson
Ken Anderson has been living in Elburn for the past three years and decided to seek a trustee position because of his loyalty to the community.

“I’m interested in helping mold and shape the village of Elburn for the 21st century,” he said.

Anderson is a project manager for Kane County Development Department, where he works in environmental management. During his 20 years with the county, he also has been a soil scientist/planner, and director of the subdivision zoning division. He holds a bachelor’s in science from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in watershed management and natural resources management, with a minor in soil science.

He lives Blackberry Creek and previously resided between Big Rock and Kaneville. He moved to the village, in part, because of its small-town atmosphere.

“I like our downtown with its neat architecture. I want the village to encourage re-use of those structures unless it is not possible for health or safety reasons.”

Anderson wants the village to maintain the rural look of the community. He also believes the village should try to boost the downtown by working with business owners on strategies for improving parking there and connecting the Metra train station to the historic business district.

“It would make sense. I think we have to be open to doing that,” he said.

He believes that with decreased revenue because of the economic decline, the village needs to be fiscally responsible.

“With development slowing, we have to look at how resources are being spent,” Anderson said.

Priorities Anderson sees for the village include improving sewer and stormwater systems.

“I can help with those projects. I have worked with the county on drainage issues, and worked with property owners during the process,” he said.

The village should determine where properties have cross connections between the stormwater and sewer systems and eliminate those, encouraging people to obtain back-flow valves instead, Anderson said; and, the village should continue exploring where stormwater infiltration into the sewer lines is occurring.

“We need to develop a plan to address this and get people to buy into it. It is in the best interest of the village to get this under control,” Anderson said.

To ensure smart growth, the village should update its land-use plan and invite residents to participate, said Anderson.

“We need to go from a 1990 plan to a 2010 plan. The one we have now doesn’t show how we’re goint to handle another 20,000 people, possibly in 20 years,” he said.

He wants the village to recruit a corporation to locate its headquarters in Elburn, as a way to bring people into town to spur business development, such as a bed-and-breakfast and restaurants.

He wants bike routes designated in the village, including lined lanes on the side of streets that are wide enough. Another option he suggests is to limit parking to one side of the street in some areas to accommodate a biking lane.

“I like the idea of connecting people to the community,” Anderson said.

Anderson said he supports the planned Sho-Deen Metra development along Anderson Road, but said some of the single-family home lots should be larger if they are adjacent to similar areas.

“I think we should always try to transition out (with density),” Anderson said.
He believes the village needs to become independent.

“We keep going to businesses on Randall Road. Instead, we should frequent ours more, on Route 47 and Route 38,” Anderson said.

Tom Burgholzer
A 17-year resident of Elburn, Burgholzer was elected as an Elburn Village trustee eight years ago, and re-elected in 2005. He previously retired from a 38-year career in as a police officer, working for Yorkville and Oswego, for the Kendall County Sheriff’s Department, and part-time for Elburn.

He wants to be re-elected so that he can stay involved in the growth of the community.

“I think that is fantastic,” Burgholzer said. “I’ve been in service to people all my life, so I just want to continue,” he said.

He said he is pro-growth, but wants to make sure the village does not develop too fast.

Burgholzer said future challenges for the village include the re-development of the downtown and expanding the wastewater treatment plant after residential development starts flourishing again, making sure developers chip in to help pay the cost.

He supports the Sho-Deen Metra area residential and commercial development, for the most part, but wants it to be less dense by requiring larger lot sizes for some single-family homes.

He said the village should continue trying to determine where possible stormwater leaks are in the sewer system and fix them. As a resident of Cambridge subdivision, he experienced residential flooding last September, along with other people in his area and elsewhere in the village, including the northwest quadrant.

“It has to be solved. We are waiting for a resolution. Whatever is it, it’s going to be costly,” Burgholzer said. “That’s why we need to be very careful with our budget, so that we can pay for the things that really need to be done.”

During the next annual budgeting process, he said village officials must seriously look at areas where they can cut costs. One way to reduce expenditures would be to move employees to different departments when other staff members resign.

“Salaries are the biggest expense of the village. Hopefully we won’t have to cut personnel; I’d be hard-pressed to do that,” Burgholzer said.

Another cost-saving measure he wants the village to adopt is keeping vehicles and other equipment until they become more expensive to maintain than replace. He said people should understand, however, that squad cars sometimes age more quickly than other vehicles because of the idling time that occurs during patrols.

“After being a police officer, I know that,” Burgholzer said.

An advocate for building a skatepark in Elburn, Burgholzer was disappointed when trustees could not decide on a location for it. He said that to make the park happen in the future and to bring other recreation in the village, residents will have to decide whether they want to form a park district that will levy a tax.

“I think we should hold an (advisory) referendum. We could do that just to see where it would go,” Burgholzer said.
Burgholzer wants to revitalize the downtown, but does not want to offer incentives for new businesses.

“That wouldn’t be fair to the existing businesses,” he said.

To connect the Metra station with the downtown, he would like the village to have a walkway over the tracks, if the village can obtain the right-of-way required for gradual handicapped access.

To increase vehicular access to the train station, he proposes installing another entry point to the station on Keslinger Road closer to Route 47.

“Having just that one access to the Metra station is a big complaint from residents. Something’s got to be done,” Burgholzer said.

Regarding the Anderson Road extension and overpass, he wants village officials to keep talking to the county and “whoever will listen” so that the project does not lose the federal funding earmarked for it.

David Gualdoni
Gualdoni has lived in Elburn for nine years.

He said he wants to be a trustee “to get some things done in the town.” Getting the wastewater treatment plant updated is a priority for him. He wants the village to upgrade the sewer lines and the equipment at the plant.

“It was built in the seventies, and some of the equipment dates back to then,” he said.

Maintenance needs improvement, especially as the village adds capacity to the plant.

Gualdoni works full-time with the city of Geneva Street Department and part-time for the Elburn Public Works Department. With that background, he understands some of the issues the village faces, he said.

“Most of our problems are infrastructure problems and public works,” Gualdoni said.

The village should update employee policies and create a disaster plan for severe storms and other events that could threaten the well-being of residents.

Gualdoni is an assistant advisor in the Elburn Police Department’s new Community Emergency Response Training (C.E.R.T.) program for citizens, as well as in the Explorer program. He has volunteered to help the Elburn Lions Club and the Chamber of Commerce with Elburn Days and Day in the Park and has assisted police with parking at those events and others.

He said if elected, he will offer his suggestions and opinions, which he believes trustees need to do more.

Regarding future growth in the village, he would like to see a lot more retail because that is where the village gets its money (retail tax), he said. He would also like the downtown “reborn and updated, with new light poles, flower boxes.”

“Even if we just dress it up a bit, it would help bring people and businesses downtown.”

Toward that goal, he wants the village to form a beautification committee.

Another committee Gualdoni wants is one that could serve the purpose of a park district but wouldn’t have to assess a tax.

With tough economic times likely ahead, the Village Board is going to need to do some creative planning to pay for infrastructure improvements, Gualdoni said.

“If money is going to be spent, it should be spent on improving the wastewater treatment and stormwater systems,” he said.

To afford those improvements, the village should rearrange staff responsibilities and reduce spending on vehicles before cutting any employees. He also believes that some administrators’ vehicles should not be available for employees’ personal use. That measure could be extremely cost saving because of potential liability issues, he said.

He would like public works on-call staff that currently have a take-home truck to receive on-call pay, instead.

“We’re just going to have to struggle along for the next few years. Some of this stuff should have been done long ago.”

Jeff Humm
An eight-year resident of Elburn, Humm lives in the Cambridge subdivision. He believes he has a lot to offer as an incumbent and someone with the background the village needs.

“I’m seeking re-election because I think the village has some things coming up that I have the experience to help with, including the wastewater treatment plant, stormwater and sewer, and drainage,” he said.

Humm said the 1970s plant has not had a lot of updgrades.

“More needs to be done. If the growth returns, which it will someday, we will need to determine how we can expand it, including obtaining money from developers,” Humm said.

“It shouldn’t be the existing residents who have to be the ones to pay for it,” he said.

Humm has been involved in public service for nearly 20 years. He has worked in civil engineering and public works projects for Aurora, River Forest, Oswego and Fox Metro, where he currently is employed.

“It has become a way of life for me,” he said.

Regarding growth, Humm is in favor of it, in a controlled fashion.

“Right now, of course, it’s a slowdown. Now is the time to plan for future growth,” Humm said.

The village needs to pursue some projects, including building a new police station, expanding the wastewater treatment plant and creating a park district, he said.

“Now is the time to plan for those things so that when growth does come back, we are prepared for it,” Humm said.
Humm said until more growth happens, the village cannot complete these major projects, especially because of the economy.

You have to wait for growth to pay for these things,” Humm said.

In the meantime, the village should still seek government funding to keep the village’s infrastructure intact, including its roads.

“If you have viable projects that are ready to start, you might get the money earlier from IDOT, which is overseeing money coming from the federal government for road projects, and the IEPA, which is distributing federal funds for wastewater/stormwater projects,” Humm said.

He said his background at Fox Metro could help the board obtain funding and suggested the village should start working with a consulting engineer to get projects shovel ready.

The Anderson Road extension and overpass project is another important one for the village to keep pursuing, he said.

“As long as the money is there, hopefully construction start within the next four years,” Humm said.

Humm wants the village to update its long-range plan as part of the preparation for new growth. He also believes the downtown is important for the board to focus on, because of its empty store fronts, and making sure the downtown has adequate parking should be a priority.

He does not want any future connection from the Metra station to Route 47 and downtown to be through a residential area. But he would support creating a through route from Route 47 to Metra near Blackberry Cemetery.

He supports downtown improvement incentives such as the facade program, whereby the village helps building owners pay to upgrade their storefronts.

Humm said he is confident commercial development will come as the village grows.

With a new village president and at least one new member, the Village Board needs experienced trustees like him to help the board with the “learning curve,” Humm said.

Jerry Schmidt
Jerry Schmidt is running for trustee because he wants to see Elburn grow and prosper, he said.

“I love it here,” said the 37-year village resident who lives in Blackberry Creek.

Schmidt was elected as a trustee in the late 1980s, but resigned after a short time because of travel conflicts related to his job.

Before retiring earlier this year, he worked in customer service for a freight company and then a manufacturer during his 50-year career. He wants to be a trustee to utilize his skills in public service to bring positive change to Elburn.

“I would like to think I could make a difference in the town by being on the board,” Schmidt said.

He believes that Elburn’s top priority should be to ensure that the Anderson Road bridge and extension are completed as soon as possible, so that commercial development planned for around the Metra station can begin.

He is in favor of continued growth in Elburn.

“Definitely. If we don’t grow, we die. We have to grow and prosper,” Schmidt said. “I believe that Elburn is the best-kept secret in the whole Chicago area. We need to promote it, not only for retail but for commercial.”

Schmidt thinks that the village should have located the Metra commuter station in downtown Elburn.

“If I had been on the board at that time I would have wanted that location,” Schmidt said. “But, the Metra station is there already so I believe we should work on improving the area around it,” Schmidt said. “I would love to see some restaurants out there, like maybe a sports bar, the type of thing that would draw people. That’s what we need.”

He supports Sho-Deen’s concept plan of building multi-story, mixed-use residential and commercial buildings with higher density near the train station.

“I really believe we need to get moving on this development,” Schmidt said. “I would like to see Elburn look like Huntley someday” with a strong central retail district.

Although he wants the area around the Metra station to develop, he doesn’t want it to be at the expense of the downtown. To keep downtown vital, he believes that Metra should be accessible to vehicles from Route 47.

“All we would have to do is take down the gate that blocks the traffic,” Schmidt said.

He thinks opening access from the Metra station to Route 47 would improve residential property values because it would lead to more restaurants and other businesses opening downtown.

“And with retail around the Metra station, maybe the area will someday grow together,” he said. “Because right now, when people leave the train station, they don’t come into downtown Elburn.”

Other traffic access Schmidt wants to improve is between Route 47 and Interstate 88, by working with Sugar Grove officials to work to get an eastbound ramp built there.

Robert Swartz
A Blackberry Creek resident, Swartz was a police officer for 18 years in Glendale Heights until an injury forced his early retirement. He since has opened the Fox Valley Driving School in Elburn.

When he was with Glendale Heights Police Department he was sworn in as an Illinois state trooper as a narcotics officer, part of DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force and as a U.S. Marshall for a year working on a case against a major gang, he said.

He also has volunteered for the state firemarms safety programs offered at the St. Charles Sportsmen’s Club in Elburn.

He enjoys taking on new responsibilities.

“Public service is very rewarding. I like the challenge,” he said.

The challenges he sees for Elburn during the next few years include the Anderson Road overpass and extension, and the wastewater treatment expansion.

But before undertaking any major improvement projects, the village first should establish a strict budget, he said. He would like Elburn to reduce its vehicle budget for employees and keep its vehicles longer.

He also would like to have more special projects, even those below $20,000, to go out to bid, to obtain the best price possible.

“Why would we want to waste more money?” he said.

He wants village officials to increase their discussions with those from nearby towns, particularly Sugar Grove.

“Communication with other villages is very important. We should be working together on purchases to get better rates,” Swartz said

He would like the village to annex southward up to I-88.

“That is where we will bring in some serious tax revenue. If we could get an outdoor outlet mall, all that revenue would come into the village. It wouldn’t increase our traffic flow, just our revenue.”

Swartz is in favor of the proposed east-off ramp at Route 47 and I-88.

He wants the village to be more aggressive about marketing itself, using its community development director, Erin Willrett, for that purpose.

He likes the traditional downtown and wants to see it brought back to life. Toward that goal, he would like the village to set new requirements for the appearance of downtown buildings.

“I don’t want someone to come in and reface a building with a modern look. I like the old-fashioned, hometown look,” he said.

To help bring more new businesses to town, he would support giving them a tax break for a year or two as an incentive.

Jeff Walter
Jeff Walter, who was in the U.S. Navy for 22 years, said he has always had the spirit of community service. He has coached youth soccer and baseball teams in Elburn and served as Cub Scout Pack 107 den leader.

Now, this Blackberry Creek resident wants to expand on his public service as a trustee on the Village Board, in response to encouragement from friends and neighbors.

“I would like newer residents to have a voice at the table. I would like to be a representative for them, as well as others.”

He enlisted after high school in the Navy, and was in active duty for nine years as a cryptologist and linguist. He then was in the reserves for 13 years, achieving the highest rank for an enlisted person, Master Chief.

After finishing active duty, he earned a business degree at University of South Florida, a master’s in manufacturing management from University of Toledo and an MBA from New York Institute of Technology.

Walter believes that during this time of slowed growth, the village should be looking ahead.

“I don’t think it’s time for us to sit on our hands and wait for it to pick up again; I think we should keep pursuing developers, including commercial and industrial, so that when the economy gets better, they will be ready to come to Elburn.”

Walter said another priority for the village should be taking care of its infrastructure and budgeting appropriately.

“Do we need to buy another Ford Explorer, or do we need to repair our storm sewers?” he asked.

He wants the Village Board to improve its communication on important issues to residents, by passing public meetings minutes and posting them on the village website more quickly. He also suggested that an economical way to boost communication with the community would be to compile a one-page newsletter frequently and enclose it with residents’ water bills.

“It would be a start,” Walter said

In times of decreasing revenue, Walter believes the village should evaluate its employee needs to determine whether departments are appropriately staffed for current tasks.

“Could some of the efforts of employees in the building department, for example, be re-directed right now?” he said.

Other measures he believes could be cost effective for the village would be to increase cross training among employees and to examine the salary structure and see if the village is paying the appropriate wage for the job that is being done.

Walter would like the Village Board to have a committee structure to facilitate more research and boost communication with staff members, whom he also would want to participate.

He wants the village to create pedestrian access from the Metra station to the downtown area, through a tunnel or bridge. In the future, he believes the village should have vehicle access from Metra to Route 47, as use of the station increases.

The Village Board must pursue the Anderson Road extension and overpass project so that it is constructed as soon as possible, he said.

“We need to do the analysis and find out what needs to be done and get it done,” Walter said.

4/3 update: Fixed the first paragraph omission of candidate Jeff Walter. The Herald regrets the error.

Letter: Thank you, Lions, for meet the candidate forum

I want to publicly thank the Elburn Lions Club for hosting the “Meet The Candidates” forum and luncheon held recently.

What an outstanding opportunity for the community to come out and meet the candidates who want to be the next generation of Elburn leaders. The spaghetti was excellent, as were the five-minute presentations given by all of the candidates. A democratic form of government allows its citizens, actually requires its citizens, to be involved, and more importantly, to be heard. Without citizen input and participation, a democracy fails. It was exciting to hear the other candidates and their thoughts on the future of our village.

Equally as stimulating and challenging were the questions that were brought to each of the candidates during the question-and-answer session. Overall, a great experience. And I think all who attended will remember the three questions: Is it good for Elburn, is it good for Elburn and is it good for Elburn? Thanks again to the Lions Club for doing something that truly is good for Elburn.

Jeff Walter
Candidate, Elburn Village Trustee