Minutes - November 17, 2003 - Committee-of-the-Whole
the Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting
of the City
Council of the
CALL TO ORDER
The Committee-of-the-Whole Meeting of the City Council
of the City of Darien was called to order at 6:00 P.M. by Mayor Carmen D.
Soldato. In attendance were
Mayor Soldato, Clerk Coleman, Treasurer Monaghan, Attorney Kolman, Aldermen
Biehl, Cotten, Hagen, Marchese, Poteraske, Tikalsky, and Weaver,
Administrator Vana, Community Development Director Dreyer, and Public Works
Asst. Director Mengarelli.
Mayor Soldato explained that the Committee-of-the-Whole
was a means for Council to informally discuss important items for future
REVIEW RESIDENTS’ REQUEST THAT THE COUNCIL OFFER PARK AND
RECREATION SERVICES IF A REFERENDUM TO DISSOLVE THE DARIEN PARK DISTRICT IS
APPROVED BY THE VOTERS
Mayor Soldato gave background information regarding
citizen initiative to dissolve the Darien Park District by referendum on the
March 2004 ballot. He noted
that City Attorney Kolman reviewed legal issues that would be relevant if
the City considered assumption of the responsibilities and creation of a
department within the City. He
verified that consolidation of the Park District was not a City initiative
but one that was brought forward by citizens.
Mayor Soldato stated this was not a complex issue and that State Law
mandated how to dissolve a taxing body.
He said that through voting, the will of the people would be
expressed, would be followed, and would work with the City of Darien to
permit development of a department within the City via an intergovernmental
agreement. He commented that it
was not draconian; authority to consolidate or dissolve was contained within
the State Statutes. He noted
that Attorney Kolman responded to Council inquiries about dissolution of the
Darien Park District through a memorandum dated November 12, 2003.
The Mayor said that this item was placed on the agenda for discussion
and that Council would consider the issue at the 7:30 P.M. City Council
meeting to authorize the attorney to prepare a resolution of intent to take
over the operations as a department of the City if voters dissolved the
Darien Park District in March.
Alderman Marchese inquired if part of the
intergovernmental agreement would have a provision for the City to hire Park
District employees; Mayor Soldato responded that the goal of consolidation
of a governmental body should benefit Darien taxpayers, which would include
consolidation of employee responsibilities.
Alderman Weaver spoke about the number of voter
signatures needed, which was two-thirds (2/3) of those who voted for the
highest vote getter in the last election but not less than twenty percent
(20%); she inquired what the twenty percent (20%) would be. Attorney Kolman
responded that she did not know the figure.
Mayor Soldato stated that issue was left to the people who were
initiating the dissolution. Alderman
Weaver confirmed that the Park District would have to settle their affairs
and debts after dissolution, which was affirmed by Attorney Kolman; she
further stated that the City would not take over their debt and inquired if
they would have to sell their assets. Mayor
Soldato responded that the Park District would have to state their intention
to dissolve/resolve their affairs.
Alderman Cotten stated that there was an assumption
that the Park District was willing to work with the City. He inquired what would happen if the Park District sold or
gave their property to the school or library districts after the City had
developed a park district department that had no assets; Alderman Cotten
stated that everything was predicated on an intergovernmental agreement
where the City obtained the assets if the Park District was willing to
negotiate. Mayor Soldato stated
that the answer was two-fold: the Park District was not responding to people
and that it was possible that the Park District could go in a different
direction. Alderman Cotten
noted that the City had no authority to take over; Mayor Soldato stated that
the City was not to speculate about what the Park District would do but that
the citizens have said they wanted the Park District dissolved.
Alderman Poteraske stated that he felt that if there
was a two-thirds (2/3) vote by the people that the Park District would do
what was best for the City, which would be to work with the City and
schools, to work out an agreement, and to cooperate.
Alderman Hagen commented that if the Park District were
dissolved and there was an overall debt, it could be solved by levying the
debt to the residents or to pass it on to whoever took over the
responsibility. Attorney Kolman
affirmed and stated that it would have to be on existing debt not a newly
Alderman Biehl questioned if park district programs
would continue or cease if there was a two-thirds (2/3) vote to dissolve.
Mayor Soldato stated that the Park District would retain the
authority to continue and wrap-up its operations.
He noted that after entering into an intergovernmental agreement,
there would be no change in services provided other than the City’s
attempt to improve and enhance programs.
Alderman Biehl asked if the City had a new division of parks and
recreation, where would the City stage the programs, meetings and group
activities if the Park District sold all their assets.
Administrator Vana said that part of the agreement would include
operation of the programs in the same places; he said the property would be
conveyed to the City by intergovernmental agreement, not necessarily sold.
Alderman Biehl asked Attorney Kolman for clarification about the Park
District dissolving their assets to pay their debt; she responded that they
could extend taxes every year to pay off existing debt or they could enter
into an intergovernmental agreement with another governmental entity to take
over the debt and obligation, which could include transferring ownership of
Alderman Hagen verified if the Park District dissolved,
assuming that there were no other intergovernmental agreements, that they
could no longer incur debt, which meant that they no longer had employees.
Mayor Soldato stated ‘no’. He
said that Statute contemplates that through initiative, people could
dissolve a park; the assumption would be that if all park boundaries were
within the City, the City would take over everything and all would flow to
the City. He noted that there
were areas outside the City limits within the Park District boundaries and
that the assumption would be that if the Park District had cash, the cash
would go to the school districts.
Attorney Kolman commented that residents of the
Brookfield Park District were petitioning to dissolve their park district.
She noted that the only difference between Brookfield and Darien was
that Brookfield Park District was co-terminus with the Village of Brookfield
but would still need to go through referendum.
Alderman Biehl inquired why the residents of Brookfield were
dissolving the park district; Attorney Kolman responded that no reason would
be stated that the question on the ballot would simply state ‘do you want
to dissolve the Park District’.
Alderman Poteraske asked if a department of
recreation/parks was created instead of a Park District, would the City be
able to do all the things that a park district does in regard to grants,
levies, legislative activities, etc. Mayor
Soldato stated that there were municipalities that had a separate taxing
body, park district, and the City also ran their own recreational
activities; he said there were no limitations or restrictions.
Mayor Soldato stated that the dissolution would save the taxpayers
Alderman Hagen inquired what would happen to the
non-Darien portions of the park district.
Mayor Soldato stated that those portions would fall under either
DuPage County or Village of Woodridge; he stated that those residents could
benefit by entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the City to
service them under the department; this would be a policy decision for the
Council. Attorney Kolman stated that those residents could also be charged
non-resident rates for participation within the programs.
Attorney Kolman commented that after a park district
was dissolved, the first thing would be to pay off existing debts and
obligations prior to or as of the date of dissolution; any monies left over,
after paying off all debt, would go to the school districts. She stated that in reality there probably would be no money
Alderman Cotten stated that there were no time limits
or procedures to follow for dissolution; he said that the transition could
take six months or a year. Attorney
Kolman said that was correct; she noted that they must take care of all
their personal and real property, debt and obligations.
Alderman Biehl stated that if the Park District did
dissolve, would the Park District employees need to apply for a position
with the City in the newly created department, if they would continue with
seniority or begin as new employees; Mayor Soldato stated that those would
be issues to consider upon consolidation.
MARION HILLS SIDEWALK
Mayor Soldato stated that some residents have requested
that the City consider placement of sidewalks in the Marion Hills area.
Mayor Soldato turned the meeting over to Administrator Vana, who had
corresponded with Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. in regard to the
proposed project. Administrator
Vana stated that in a memorandum dated November 10, 2003 from Paul Bourke of
CBBEL the estimated cost for placement of sidewalks in Marion Hills was
Alderman Weaver stated that she was pleased with the
estimated cost because she expected a much higher figure.
She noted that if the City only did the sidewalk installation that it
would be exempt from the DuPage County Stormwater Ordinance.
She stated that it would be necessary to survey all Marion Hills
residents in regard to the improvement, that there could be a special
service assessment and that the City could apply for grant money.
Alderman Marchese was concerned because the area was
ripe for redevelopment; he said that when redevelopment would occur, the
City would require the developer to place curb & gutter, sidewalks, etc.
He felt that if parcels were purchased, existing homes torn down and
rebuilt, that the concrete work be a waste.
Administrator Vana stated that those improvements were required for
new development and if there were existing improvements that were damaged
during construction, the developer would be required to replace them.
Alderman Hagen inquired why consideration for sidewalk
focused only on Marion Hills instead of Citywide; he felt that the people
needed to be surveyed. He said
that the City should also consider upgrading the ditches to make them level
with the street; Alderman Weaver stated that if the City performed that work
it would need to comply with the DuPage County Stormwater Ordinance.
Alderman Biehl agreed that a survey of the Marion Hills
residents was necessary. He
stated that he received communication from a resident on Eleanor Place; the
resident informed him that in the 1970’s he was informed by Council that
sidewalks were going to be placed within the subdivision, particularly on
the east side of Eleanor. The
resident indicated that, at that time, the monies collected for vehicle
stickers was for safety sidewalks; Alderman Biehl stated that safety
sidewalks were now defined specifically as Cass Avenue, Clarendon Hills
Road, Plainfield Road, and 75th Street.
Alderman Tikalsky inquired how many homes were in
Marion Hills; he was informed that the number would need to be determined.
He said that the City should not be responsible for full payment,
that there should be a cost per household.
Alderman Poteraske commented that the intent was to
survey residents within the Marion Hills area; he noted that there were
streets within Ward 3 that did not have sidewalks and he would also like
those areas surveyed. Alderman
Weaver stated that Marion Hills residents brought forward the sidewalk issue
and action needed to be taken; she stated that if other areas would like
sidewalks that those residents should make a request.
Alderman Cotten asked if there was going to be a
floodway map revision based on improvements; he suggested that the areas
within the floodway wait to be done until a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR)
Mayor Soldato asked Ms. Peterson and Ms. Murford to
survey the residents of Marion Hills North to see if there was interest in
having the sidewalks and also to include a question to ascertain if they
would still be interested in the sidewalks if the City needed to accomplish
this via a Special Service Area tax.
Heather Murford felt the lack of sidewalks was a safety
issue and inquired if a State grant could be obtained for this purpose; she
noted other municipalities that have obtained grants. Mayor Soldato noted the process the City had taken to obtain
other State grants but advised that the State of Illinois was in financial
difficulty. Monies that were to
have already been forwarded to the City were frozen by the Governor, so
there would be no guarantee that if a grant was awarded that the money would
be forthcoming in the near future. He
invited the women to meet with Administrator Vana so they would have a
better idea where the sidewalks would be placed on the property and further
advised that Administrator Vana would assist the residents with grant
preparation if they desired.
There being no further business to come before the
Committee-of-the-Whole, the meeting adjourned at 7:05 P.M.
Carmen D. Soldato, Mayor
Joanne F. Coleman, City Clerk
All supporting documentation and report originals of
these minutes are on file in the Office of the City Clerk under File Number