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Getting to know your community...Part I - Government

01/29/2015 06:01PM ● Published by Tim

Gallery: Getting to know your local government [3 Images] Click any image to expand.


Over the next six issues of Neighbors of North Aurora magazine we’re going to take you on a journey through your uniquely “American” community. We will explore one aspect of community in each issue: governance, education, recreation, culture, commerce and social responsibility. How does each part function? What is the total cost to the community? What are the real benefits? How do they contribute to a better community? And, how do they benefit “me?” What role do “I” play in this?

As soon as you step on your
sidewalk, or back your car into the
street, you become involved in your
community. As a matter of fact, the
moment you turn on your faucet or
switch on a light, you are involved
with the community around you. If
you do nothing more than drive to
the train station in the morning, on
your way to work somewhere else,
and then drive home again at night,
you are experiencing the benefits of
“community.” But it isn’t free.
As a member of the community,
you share in the cost. In its most
simple form, here’s how it works.
The taxing bodies (village, schools,
parks, library, forest preserve,
township, et.al.) determine what
it will cost to provide services and
submit their budgets to an assessor.
The assessor adds up the grand
total. The assessor rates your share
based on the value of your property
and sends you a bill. You pay your
bill and the money is allocated back
to the various taxing bodies based
on their approved budgets. Over the
course of a year, each taxing body
provides services as budgeted. Then
they do it all over again next year.
So, whether or not you think you
are using all of the “shared” services”
of your community, you are paying
for them. And in Illinois there are
more “taxing bodies” represented
on your property tax bill than any
other state in the Union. You might
as well get to know what your
community. Let’s start with the
Village of North Aurora, your local
government.
Governance
Tomorrow morning, fill a small
glass with water and look at the
clear, clean drinkable substance.
Tons of people, miles of pipeline,
towers with pumps, ingenious
delivery systems, clever products,
dependable filtering stations,
public watchdogs, and government
oversight, have all come together to
fill your cup.
Just a few feet away from your
faucet there’s a toilet. Any time you
feel the need, 24 hours a day, it is
there ready to accommodate you.
With the flick of a lever, the waste
is gone as it starts a journey through
systems as complex as those that
bring clean water into your home.
Delivering water and electricity
to your home; taking waste away
from your home are typical parts of
“Public Works” in your community.
Public works also includes police
and fire protection, maintenance of
village streets and public lighting.
But the Village of North Aurora
does much more. It participates in
economic development creating
infrastructure, programs, strategies
and incentives to lure new
businesses and strengthen the local
economy.
The village oversees the
development of housing, addressing
diverse needs while ensuring
a consistently high quality of
residential standards. The Village
of North Aurora must be there to
protect the Fox River, recognizing
its historical and future significance
to the community. Then there is
the challenge of maintaining a
successful business community
without the benefit of a central
downtown area.
Above all, the village staff must
be there for each of the 17,000
North Aurora residents in 6,000
households, providing information
and service ranging from help with
a simple form to resolution of major
community issues. Police are there
around the clock to protect you and
your home, and firemen stand ready
to answer any call for help.
What does it cost to run the
Village of North Aurora?
Incorporated in 1905, The Village
of North Aurora operates under
the trustee/administrator form of
government. Policymaking and
legislative authority are vested in the
village board, which consists of a
village president, Dale Berman and
a six-member board of trustees. The
president and trustees are elected
on an at-large basis to overlapping
four-year terms. Various committees
consisting of three village board
members are also created from
time-to-time to focus on specific
projects or functional areas. The
village administrator, Steve Bosco,
was appointed by the village board.
He is responsible for carrying out
the policies of the village board
and for overseeing the day-to-day administration of the village.
The village is a non-home rule
community as defined by the Illinois
constitution.
Located approximately 36 miles
west of the City of Chicago in
southeast Kane County, North
Aurora occupies 7.4 square miles
of land. There has been rapid
growth in the last twenty years
growing from a population of
5,490 in 1990 to 16,760 in 2010.
By 2025, the village is projected
to reach a population of 22,000.
Village services include police
protection and investigation,
maintenance of streets and
infrastructure, water provision,
treatment and service, water
lines and maintenance of sanitary
and storm sewer lines, building
inspection and code enforcement,
and general administrative/finance
services. Solid waste collection and
recycling services are contracted
with a private firm. Fire protection
services are provided by the North
Aurora Fire Protection District
and Batavia Fire District, both
separate governmental entities.
Sanitary sewer treatment service is
provided by the Fox Metropolitan
Water Reclamation District, an
independent unit of government.
Recreational services are provided
primarily by the Fox Valley Park
District.
For the 2013/2014 (year ending
May 31, 2013) total revenue was
$19.7 million. Less than 17% of the
revenue came from your property
taxes. Over 83% came from other
sources such as sales taxes (28.5%).
Expenses for the year were $15.9
million with 62% of that paying for
public safety and public works. The
village’s underlying bond rating from
Standard and Poor’s was increased
in April, 2014 to AA+ from AA.
S&P cited the village’s strong
budgetary performance, very strong
budgetary flexibility along with its
very strong liquidity position as
some of the reasons for the upgrade.
Also mentioned were the strong
North Aurora economy, strong
financial management practices
and policies and reasonable debt
and contingent liability profile. The
entire 121 page financial report
can be seen on the village website,
vil.north-aurora.il.us.
Touching all parts of the
community
Police and fire protect and
serve the school district, library
district, park district. The mayor
is an ambassador to the entire
community, attending cultural
events, advocating for social
responsibility of churches and notfor-
profit organizations. Trustees
participate in events and advocate
for residents and thev illage at-large.
The village government of North
Aurora touches every corner of
community.
Benefits to you
Obviously, North Aurora could
not function without a central governing body. Whatever perceived
shortcomings that seem to follow
any government body, the success
of a community is directly related
to actions of its governing body.
And that has a direct impact on
your experience in your home town.
You can be proud of the collection
of features and assets that few
communities can boast: a fiscally
responsible village budget with a
healthy operation reserve, relatively
low property taxes, easy access to
I–88, close proximity to the Aurora
Metra station, carefully planned
residential areas, that are mingled
with, but not intruded upon,
commercial and industrial areas.
What role do “I” play?
Take a look at the Village of North
Aurora organizational chart. You,
a North Aurora resident, are at the
top. Whether you do very little or
choose to jump in with both feet,
as a resident, your role is huge. If
all you do is vote, you play a huge
role. But you can make a difference
without much effort, too. Look
around. Get to know how and why
things are done a certain way. With
a little knowledge you can make
meaningful contributions to helping
your village government do a better
job of serving you.


Next issue: culture. What is culture
and how does it play a role in your
well–being? The Library, North
Aurora’s center of culture, will help us
understand how culture affects your
everyday life in this community.


News messenger public library city hall, getting to know your local government
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