River Forest trustees introduce property tax levy
The village of River Forest Board of Trustees met Oct. 10 to introduce a property tax levy.
Here are the meeting's minutes, as provided by the board:
The board is the legislative and policy-making body of the village. It includes the village president and six trustees.
VILLAGE OF RIVER FOREST REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES MINUTES October 10,2016
A regular meeting of the Village of River Forest Board of Trustees was held on Monday, October 10, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room of Village Hall, 400 Park Avenue, River Forest, IL.
1. CALL TO ORDER/ROLL CALL
The meeting was called to order at 6:59 p.m. Upon roll call, the following persons were:
Present: President Adduci, Trustees Conti, Cargie, Dwyer, and Gibbs Absent: Trustees Corsini and Colwell-Steinke Also Present: Village Clerk Sharon Halperin, Village Administrator Eric Palm, Assistant Village Administrator Lisa Scheiner, Police Chief Greg Weiss, Public Works Director John Anderson, Fire Chief Jim Eggert, Finance Director Joan Rock, Village Attorneys Lance Malina and Greg Smith, Management Intern Jonathan Pape
2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
President Adduci led the pledge of allegiance.
3. CITIZENS COMMENTS
John Dzuryak, 315 Forest Avenue, expressed his concerns regarding driver's making illegal left turns out of the new parking lot at Roosevelt School. He suggested changes in signage to help prevent the problem.
Mr. Dzuryak asked if the Village contacted the Oak Park River Forest Historic society about the donation of some of the older Village chairs. Village Administrator Palm stated some of the old chairs went to the Library, some were repurposed by the Village, and some went to the Community Center.
Mr. Dzuryak stated he was at the Public Works garage looking at the Washington School panels. He stated he hopes they will be on display soon. President Adduci stated the Historic Preservation Commission is working on that.
Mr. Dzuryak inquired about the status of the River Forest sign column on Lake Street. Village Administrator Palm stated that it was removed because paint was peeling, which is likely attributed to road salt. He reported that the Village will install a spare sign, have the original sent out for repair, and it will be replaced when complete.
Mr. Dzuryak said he noticed the railroad track is included in the TIF district and that he is concerned how it will affect adjacent property owners. Village Administrator Palm explained that the TIF boundary changed because the railroad track from Hawthorne south is one PIN and the entire property has to be included. He stated that everyone within 750 feet of that tract had to be notified. President Adduci stated that it was within the original TIF boundaries and that there is no intent to change purpose of that property. Mr. Dzuryak said he thought Mr. Gibbs suggested a bike trail. Trustee Gibbs stated that he would not suggest that.
4. ELECTED OFFICIALS COMMENTS AND ANNOUCEMENTS
Trustee Cargie stated that the Collaboration Committee met last week and discussed the Oak Park River Forest (OPRF) High School pool and other facility changes. He said a meeting is to be held October 19, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. at Lincoln School by District 200 regarding the bond issue referendum and the meeting is open to the public and all elected officials
President Adduci echoed Trustee Cargie's comments and invited the public to the October 16 meeting. She wished everyone a Happy Columbus Day.
a. Presentation from David Snyder- Weatherbug Station at Roosevelt Middle School
David Snyder, a student at OPRF High School, presented information regarding his Eagle Scout project that resulted in the installation of a Weatherbug weather station at Roosevelt Middle School. He provided an overview of the benefits of the weather station and features available. He concluded by thanking the people who helped him complete this project. In response to a question from President Adduci, Mr. Snyder discussed the lightning reporting feature and how it differs from the Park District's detection system. In response to a question from Clerk Halperin, Mr. Snyder said the cost of the station was approximately $8,400 and he helped fund this project.
5. CONSENT AGENDA
a. Village Board Regular Meeting Minutes - September 26, 2016 b. Approve a two-year electricity supply contract for the water pumping station with MC2 Energy Inc. and for street lighting with Constellation Energy Inc. and authorize the Village Administrator to execute the contract agreements c. Approval of Surplus Equipment - Street Sweeper - Ordinance d. Monthly Village Reports e. Monthly Performance Measurement Report f. Recognition of Trinity High School as one of the Best International Baccalaureate High
Schools by Newsweek Magazine - Resolution g. Second Amendment to Redevelopment Agreement with Lake and Lathrop Partners -
Resolution h. Village Administrator's Report
Trustee Cargie made a motion, seconded by Trustee Gibbs to approve the Consent Agenda.
President Adduci commented on the wonderful honor Trinity High School has earned and asked that framed copy of the Resolution be provided to the school.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Dwyer, and Cargie Absent: Trustees Corsini and Colwell-Steinke Nays: None Motion Passes.
6. RECOMMENDATIONS OF BOARDS, COMMISSIONS AND COMMITTEES
a. Finance & Administration Committee - Report Out of Meeting of Pension Actuarial Reports
and Introduction of LY2016 Property Tax Levy
Finance Director Rock reported that the Finance Committee met and Todd Schroder, the actuary, presented the reports showing pension funding and percentage funded amounts. She noted that these reports determine the tax levy for the Village. She stated that Mr. Schroder discussed factors that impacted the required contributions including the actuarial assumptions and the Village's investment performance. She indicated that one of the key things that affected the Village's funded percentages and contributions is that Lauderbach & Amen changed to the RP 2014 mortality table, which accounts for improved mortality overtime and resulted in increased liability.
Tn response to a question from President Adduci, Finance Director Rock stated the Village is ahead of schedule and eventually everyone will be using the RP 2014 table.
Finance Director Rock explained that investments were down at the end of the fiscal year but Mr. Schroder helped them feel comfortable with where the Village is and where it is headed in terms of pension liability.
In response to a question from Trustee Conti, Finance Director Rock stated that municipalities are required to use market value not actuarial value.
Finance Director Rock stated the Village is making contributions according to the approved funding policy and the five year transition plan. She said that Mr. Schroder indicated that the Police Pension fund is ahead of target and the Fire Pension fund is on target. She stated the Village should reach the full actuarial required contribution in FY 2019 with the 2018 property tax levy. She said they will meet again in a year to see whether they are on target to reach their goals and examine assumptions such as rate of return. She noted that Finance Committee meeting reports were included in the packet for tonight's meeting.
In response to a question from Trustee Cargie, Finance Director Rock confirmed there was a loss in the pension fund investments and noted that markets were down and fiscal year is used rather than calendar year. In response to a follow up question from Trustee Cargie, Finance Director Rock stated the pension fund affects a portion of the levy and that when that part of the levy goes up, the remainder has to go down.
President Adduci noted the significance of the change in the mortality table and interest rates.
Finance Director Rock encouraged all to listen to the audio of the Finance Committee meeting.
Trustee Dwyer stated that the Village is putting more money into the pension funds that it is supposed to and commented that whether they use the old table or the new one, there's still ground to make up.
President Adduci noted there is only so much the Village can do and the Village is allocating funds for the right reasons.
Finance Director Rock stated the 2016 corporate property tax levy is $7,609,011 which is a 1.64% increase over the 2015 extended property tax levy. She explained the limits under law and noted that the average resident will see a 0.7% increase in the Village portion of their property tax bill. She discussed the other portions of the levy. She noted that the Library is scheduled to approve their levy on November 15, 2016. She added that the levy must be submitted to the Village Board of Trustees by November 28, 2016 and filed with the County by the last Tuesday of December. She requested Board acceptance of the estimate. She stated that a blackboarder notice and public hearing are not required prior to approving the levy because the corporate levy is not more than 105% of the 2015 final levy. She noted that the Finance Committee recommended approval of the acceptance of the levy.
Trustee Dwyer made a motion, seconded by Trustee Conti to accept the Estimate for the 2016 Corporate (Aggregate) Property Tax Levy in the amount of $7,609,011.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Dwyer, and Cargie Absent: Trustees Corsini and Colwell-Steinke Nays: None
b. Development Review Board - Planned Development Amendment Process
President Adduci noted that no action will to be taken on this item and asked Village Administrator Palm to provide the Board with an update.
Village Administrator Palm stated staff had gone to the Development Review Board (DRB) for input in regard to changes to planned development applications that deal primarily with exterior building material or the exterior envelope of a building. He said there have been changes on recent planned development applications and staff has been trying to work through whether these changes require a major or minor amendments. He reported that the DRB made two motions: 1) any change to the exterior building materials would require a major change to the planned development application; and 2) any change to the exterior envelope of a building would require a major change to the planned development application. Village Administrator Palm stated there should be some flexibility in regard to major or minor amendments. He discussed scenarios where a major amendment would be restrictive. He said it is also important that the judgment and desire of the Board and the DRB are carried through on these applications. He stated he would like to come back at a future meeting with recommendations to help further define exterior changes that would fall under a major amendment and those that would fall under a minor amendment process so there is consistency and transparency.
President Adduci stated this is a good policy that would help keep things consistent.
c. Traffic & Safety Commission - Two-way Stop at Monroe & Iowa and Four-way Stop at Bonnie Brae & Lemoyne - Ordinance
Donna Murray of 1538 Park stated that her brother owns buildings at the corner of LeMoyne and Bonnie Brae and discussed the family's investment in River Forest. She said that an accident that occurred at that corner prompted the installation of a two-way stop sign. She indicated that cars travel at a dangerous speed and said she noticed accidents at the alleyway near Harlem and Bonnie Brae. She indicated the intersection is unique in that it is located near two large thoroughfares and it is used as a cut-through. She said the Traffic and Safety Commission had a lot of very good questions regarding this intersection and noted that no residents appeared to protest a four-way stop at this intersection. She said neighbors circulated petitions and it was a community effort for a four-way stop. She thanked the Traffic and Safety Commission for their decision to approve this.
Jennifer Murray echoed her sister's comments. She reported that the Traffic and Safety Commission recognized the need for traffic control at the intersection and installed a two-way stop initially but has since recognized the need for a four-way stop. She stated that the four-way stop will have a low impact on the residents but a high impact on those who use the intersection as a cut through to avoid the light. She asked to Board to approve the four-way stop.
Trustee Cargie made a motion, seconded by Trustee Conti to approve an Ordinance Amending Title 9, Chapter 3, of the River Forest Village Code, adding stop signs on Iowa Street, both eastbound and westbound at its intersection with Monroe Avenue, and at LeMoyne Street, eastbound and westbound at its intersection with Bonnie Brae.
President Adduci inquired whether there was any discussion at the Traffic and Safety meeting regarding alley safety. Donna Murray stated the traffic moves too quickly at the intersections of the alleys with the streets. She noted that there are apartments and townhouses off the alley. She said the Traffic and Safety Commission asked her how a stop sign would help traffic leaving the alley, and she answered that the visual of a stop sign close to the alley would cause motorists to reduce their speed.
In response to a question from Trustee Cargie, Jennifer Murray stated the Traffic and Safety Commission performed a survey. She said she does not know the numbers but from her observations the same people are cutting through.
Trustee Gibbs read statistics from the traffic analysis regarding left hand turns from Bonnie Brae onto LeMoyne which indicate drivers are using Bonnie Brae as a cut through to avoid the light.
Trustee Cargie suggested looking into restricting access onto Bonnie Brae from North Avenue. There was a brief discussion regarding traffic patterns in the area of North and Harlem.
In response to a question from Trustee Gibbs there was discussion regarding turning restrictions onto Harlem Avenue. Trustee Gibbs stated he is in favor of the four-way stop sign and asked Police Chief Weiss to have the area monitored.
President Adduci concurred with Trustee Gibbs, suggested that the Board vote on the matter before them, and then ask the Police Department to help the Board understand what the issues are at the intersection,
Jennifer Murray inquired about the process of installing a no right turn sign off North Avenue.
Police Chief Weiss stated that he will ask an officer to help determine what the issues are in the area of this intersection.
Trustee Cargie stated the times on the report do not totally match up with the times turns are restricted. Trustee Gibbs stated the statistics indicate motorists are using Bonnie Brae as a cut through.
In response to a question from Village Administrator Palm, Trustee Cargie clarified that right turn restriction would prevent eastbound traffic on North Avenue from turning southbound onto Bonnie Brae.
Trustee Gibbs noted that a two-way stop at Monroe and Iowa is also included in the motion and inquired whether anyone was there to speak about that intersection. He indicated that citizens requested a four-way stop and the Traffic and Safety Commission recommended a two-way stop. He stated he is in agreement with the Traffic and Safety Commission recommendation.
In response to a question from Trustee Gibbs, Trustee Cargie stated there are two-way traffic controls at both Augusta and Chicago and believes a stop sign on Iowa will increase the safety at that intersection.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Dwyer, and Cargie Absent: Trustees Corsini and Colwell-Steinke Nays: None
7. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
a. Communications Audit Report & Presentation
Dan Regan, Senior Vice President at Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications, introduced his team and discussed their roles in the audit and report. He stated that the team reviewed Village communications including the Village website; interviewed the Board, staff, chairs of Village commissions, local businesses and operators, neighboring government agencies, similar municipalities; conducted a focus group with Village residents; analyzed all data; and compiled their findings and strategic recommendations.
James Chase, Accounts Director, stated there were a few key themes they identified in terms of strengths and opportunities for improvement. He said one of the strengths is the strong emphasis the Village staff has on customer service. He indicated that the residents find the Village communications as trustworthy and ranked them as a preferred source of information about the Village (as compared to third party communications). He cited the Northside Stormwater Management Project as an example of how the Village is capable of executing complex and multifaceted communication campaigns. He discussed the culture of Village staff which promotes collaboration and efficiency. He noted that the Village Board and staff would like more ways to measure and analyze the data related to communications.
Mr. Chase stated that at times communications can fall by the wayside because there is a diffusion of responsibility and no one person is responsible for Village communications. He said some internal interviews indicated that the Village at times takes a reactive stance in regard to communications.
Mr. Chase stated the Village should focus its strategy on current residents as opposed to external audiences. He acknowledged that a proactive communications stance is a time consuming and resource intensive process and suggested that the Village focus on its own communication channels. He reported that residents stated the Village provides the optimum amount of postal mail information and that information is topical. He added that the residents like the idea of using the water bill to communicate and that it is innovative and cost effective.
In regard to specific recommendations, Mr. Chase stated the first step is to establish a set of core messages that will guide the content of all messages. He said the team recommends instituting an annual coordinated campaign to increase awareness and enrollment in Village communications channels. He stated that the Village should adopt a proactive, strategic approach to communications when it comes to complex issues.
Mr. Chase discussed secondary recommendation such as an expansion of the front desk frequently asked questions (FAQ) to include departmental information and a question tree. In regard to staff communications to the Board, he suggested keeping an active log of relevant information supplied to individual trustees and flagging some information for follow up with the rest of the Board.
Mr. Chase stated that in order to implement these strategies more time and resources will be required. He said an initial step would be to hire a director of communications. He indicated that individual could be full-time, part-time, or shared with another municipality. He suggested a current position could be redefined to include communications, an intern could be hired, or an outside firm could be utilized for this role.
Venita Griffin, Director of Digital Strategies Engagement, stated the team looked at the Village website, analyzed user traffic, user behavior across the site, and email from the resident and the staff perspective. She reported that both residents and staff agreed that the website contains a wealth of content but many felt the structure and navigation are not very user friendly or intuitive. She said that they found fifty percent of users enter the site through the home page and then search. She noted the high traffic pages are not built into the navigation, are not visible from the home page, and are not available on side bar navigation. She suggested that a redesign of the website will enhance the user experience and make the website an even more valuable tool for River Forest residents.
Ms. Griffin stated that during the focus groups the team found residents are open to receiving Village communications through social media, however the platform and content was not determined. She said the team recommends conducting a Village-wide survey to determine the demand and platform. During that time, she stated that the Village could determine how it wants to use social media and develop policy.
Regarding the e-newsletter, Ms. Griffin stated that based both the staff and resident comments the team recommends researching and investing in a new tool that will allow staff to quickly and efficiently produce concise email communications. She said they also recommend establishing a standard visual format for all e-communications and condensing the digital messages the Village sends out.
Ms. Griffin stated the team recommends launching the mobile app at the same time as the redesign of the website to ensure key features are in place and that the app has been tested by both residents and staff.
In response to a question from Trustee Cargie, Ms. Griffin stated that Blackboard Connect was originally designed for schools and has not been updated to include best practices and email design. She said it is very difficult to anchor link articles within the newsletter and requires readers to do a lot of scrolling to find content. She added that it takes staff quite a bit of time to put the e-newsletter together. Village Administrator Palm explained the original basis for using Blackboard was to keep all data in one platform.
In response to a question from Trustee Dwyer, Village Administrator Palm stated the plan will come before the Board for approval as is or with changes and staff will put together an implementation plan for these items. He stated he does not believe that staff can do it all on its own and envisions using an outside firm to help get the Village through the big projects such as social media and website. He said once implemented, the Village will hopefully get to a point where it will be maintenance of the projects.
In response to a question from Trustee Cargie, Village Administrator Palm stated the Village has not started website redesign. Trustee Cargie stated that there has been a goal to make the website the center for all Village agencies and everyone expressed interest in that. Village Administrator Palm noted that there have been discussions regarding a general community calendar but the general issues are that everyone is on a different calendar program and finding someone to coordinate it.
President Adduci stated once the tools are identified, they can be discussed at the next COG at a subcommittee level. She said this stems around two issues: 1) what do we do with social media; and 2) the website which is the first point of contact with the Village. She said it is important to get the website and social media right and have a plan that aligns with the Village's goals.
Ms. Griffin stated that the website is a tool and if you want that to be effective it should be part of an overall strategy. Mr. Regan said President Adduci's point is well taken and he understands that the tools that get the most use such as the website are priority. He noted that there has been a lot of work done on the mobile app and a lot of those pieces link back to the website. He said it is important to have a robust website in place prior to launch of the app so that they both provide a positive customer experience.
Trustee Dwyer stated the primary recommendations seem general and he believes the Village is doing well from a communication standpoint.
In response to a question from Trustee Dwyer, Mr. Chase stated the starting point may seem fluffy but the Village has guiding principles that are tied in with the communication goals. He suggested that in making the newsletter shorter, there could be linking to pages with the full articles, and he discussed the interaction of the newsletter with the website and Blackboard. He explained that there are puzzle pieces that are put together as part of a strategy and the process. He said the implementation of the website does not have to be delayed but he recommends the Village is purposeful about what they are doing.
President Adduci summarized what the Board learned from the report. Village Administrator Palm stated that the plan may include core messaging but a lot of the pieces will be implemented simultaneously. He said staff will come back to the Board with a plan for Jasculca Terman to implement some of these things as there is not the time, energy, and expertise needed.
8. NEW BUSINESS
a. Minor Amendment - Promenade Townhomes - Ordinance
Trustee Dwyer made a motion, seconded by Trustee Gibbs to grant conditional approval of an ordinance amending the planned development permit for 7820 W. Madison Street (Promenade Townhomes) regarding minor changes to the arrangement of exterior building features.
Assistant Village Administrator Scheiner reviewed the background for the amendment. She stated that changes to the interior floor plan based on marketing and realtor feedback necessitated changes to the exterior of the building including the placement of windows and the width of the balcony. She said the floor plan changes do not affect the exterior envelope of the building and are granted as minor amendments internally as long as they meet Code. She stated the Village acknowledges the need for some flexibility in the process, however, when the exterior and the appearance of the building are affected, staff wants to ensure that the built environment is reflective of community standards and what the Village approved. She stated that Village staff and consultants reviewed the renderings to ensure that proposed changes would improve the aesthetic appearance of the building. Village Administrator Palm added that there were intermediate proposals from the applicant and that the Village worked with them to ensure the changes would be an improvement.
John Houseal, the Village's planning consultant, discussed the process of working with the applicant on their proposed changes. He stated the configuration of the windows on the south elevation changed from a two and two configuration to three and one configuration on the third floor. In respect to the north elevation, he said additional windows were proposed on the third floor and the size of the balconies on the second floor were almost doubled. He stated one window was eliminated on the east elevation but the size of another window was substantially increased and they changed a window from a flat to a bay style window. He said the change on the west elevation is almost imperceptible. He noted that overall they are adding more windows than they are taking away, they are increasing the size of balconies, and are not changing the footprint of the building or materials being used. He stated he feels the changes are minor and consistent with the DRB's recommendation and recommend the approval of these changes.
Trustee Conti stated she likes the changes and feel they improve the building.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Dwyer, and Cargie Absent: Trustees Corsini and Colwell-Steinke Nays: None
Village Administrator Palm noted that St. Vincent and Hines are coming in for major amendments. Trustee Conti said that would likely delay the project. Village Administrator Palm stated the changes do not impact the foundation of the building. Mr. Houseal stated that the building height at Hines change is to maintain the pitch that was approved.
Village Administrator Palm reviewed the October and November meeting schedule.
9. EXECUTIVE SESSION
In response to a request for an update regarding Fresh Thyme from Trustee Gibbs, Village Administrator Palm stated that permits have been issued for structural repairs and work has begun. He said that landscaping has been done and the parking lot has been paved. Assistant Village Administrator Scheiner stated that staff has been communicating with residents affected by the construction and providing periodic updates on the website.
Trustee Dwyer made a motion seconded by Trustee Conti to adjourn the regular Village Board of Trustees Meeting at 8:48 p.m.
Ayes: Trustees Conti, Gibbs, Dwyer and Cargie Absent: Trustees Corsini and Colwell-Steinke Nays: None
I/UK Sharon Halperin, Village Clerk