Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Apathy! Shocking!

The Woodstock City Council conducted a public hearing tonight, duly announced, about a property tax increase. Owners of two properties were present. Two. As in “2”. Well, not counting the members of the City Council.

Where were all the residents who complain so bitterly about the high property taxes in the City of Woodstock?

The City also held a public hearing on extending $5,000,000 in credit support to The Resurrection Center. The Mayor read the address of the Center and included Woodstock, Illinois and also that the property is in unincorporated McHenry County. I inquired whether the property was in the City of Woodstock, and I was informed that it was not (which I already knew). But I felt the clarification was needed and that it was appropriate for the City Council to acknowledge that it is engaging in a substantial credit-related transaction with a non-City business entity.

The City assures us that the City has no financial liability whatsoever. The City’s name is on the line, but there is no liability? The City is permitted under State law to lend its bonding authority to a 501(c)(3) [non-profit, tax-exempt] organization in order to help it get a better borrowing rate. Several times it was stated that the City cannot in any way become financially liable and that the City is only a conduit for the borrowing.

Not being an investment banker or municipal borrower or lender, I’m still confused how City can be involved in a $5,000,000 loan or bond issue and not have any liability whatsoever. But that was the explanation

The 2008 Gavers Barn Dance will be at Emricson Park on July 19, 2008. Two tents are planned (26,000 sq. ft. and 6,000 sq. ft.) to accommodate 1,500 people. Let’s hope that all the costs to the City will be fully covered, including clean-up and restoration of the Park to the exact condition it was in before the event.

Quinn Keefe presented Number 1 of the 12th annual Christmas ornament issued by the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce to Mayor Sager. This year’s ornament features the Waverly House Hotel, built in 1900. Quinn stated that the choice of the Hotel was made by the community.

Under Future Business Mayor Sager indicated that he has been contacted by business interests unhappy with enforcement of the Sign Code. New homes’ developers want to “plant” their advertising signs on week-ends. Businesses want to promote (advertise) with signs not on their premises. The City will undertake a review of the Sign Code and other ordinances. Mayor Sager referred to upholding values and aesthetics, and he commented on the desire by the City staff to uphold the ordinances.

This reminded me of the recent “Duck Ordinance.” Immediately after the Council passed it, the Mayor said, in effect, that the City would not enforce it. I've been wondering how the folks at Code Enforcement feel about having an ordinance on the books (no ducks until the homeowners association approves the ducks) and not being able to enforce it. Seems to me that there is a little too much double-speak going on.

Yet, here we are on December 4, and now the City is saying that, if it has ordinances, they should be enforced.

Is something out of kilter here? Will Code Enforcement be after Jenny and Bean tomorrow morning?

If you want to be involved in the review of the Sign Code and other ordinances, I’d suggest you contact Derik Morefield at dmorefield@woodstockil.gov and ask him how you can participate. You’d better believe that the businesses which want to display signs will be lobbying for relaxed rules. Show up and speak out, or don’t. If you don’t, don’t gripe later.


Gus said...

The following comment was posted under a different article but apparently intended as a comment on the article about last night's City Council meeting. It has been copied from its original location.

first kill all the advocates! said...
I'm confused. Is this the conspiracy du jour or is it the city's loan?
December 5, 2007 5:48 AM

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

So, what was the outcome of the tax increase? For those of us who were busy filing out accident reports due to the unplowed and unsalted roads throughout Woodstock while the snow was flying.

Gus said...

The vote on the tax increase was 7-0, and you can guess which way. No one spoke for or against it. The important issue is that no one spoke against it. Appalling. Why weren't there 200-300 people there to protest it? Probably because they didn't know about it. One box ad in The Woodstock Independent. One publication of the Agenda for the City Council meeting. Don't people care? I guess not.

Anonymous said...

You should know by now the requirements for notification of the public concerning City Council,etc. meetings.