Another Missed Opportunity By Naperville City Council

Another year is going by, another Rib Fest is in the rear view mirror, and the Last Fling is now history. Again the Naperville city council has missed an opportunity to put some ‘skin in the game’ by showing residents they can do their part in helping to off-set some higher fees and taxes, that they voted to inflict upon residents.

Watchdog has been trying for years (since December 2010) to encourage the Naperville city council as a group or individual council members to put in a little effort, even if only token, to do their part in helping residents pay for higher fees and taxes.

The city council has no problem voting to increase taxes (next up is the city sales tax), or fees (electric, water, garbage) and adding all types of revenue generating gimmicks to extract money from Naperville residents and businesses. Most of  you have seen the classic video clip of Naperville city manager Doug Krieger explaining the way to fill a financial hole (created by city officials) is to squeeze it out of rate payers, taxpayers, and residents. It’s easy and apparently it’s fun to get money whenever they want it, without feeling it on their part.

Naperville city officials have avoided the golden opportunity to show residents they want to help by earning a few bucks to toss into the city coffers and help reduce fees and taxes if only by pennies and nickels. The Rib Fest and Last Fling would be ideal venues to have city officials participate in water dunking; put a council member on a platform and folks can buy a ball to toss at a target to drop the council member into a tub of water. Or how about charging residents a fee for a pillow fight with a council member, or Nerf-sword fighting with a council member. The good folks of Naperville would gladly pay a fee, and line up for a chance to have some fun pounding a Naperville city official.

There are so many ways city officials could help slightly offset their votes for higher fees and taxes. How about some of the following:

  • Council members could wash cars at the Municipal Center
  • City officials could have lemonade stand at the Municipal Center
  • City council members could do ‘Drive you home from the bar’ nights. They could rotate the nights with ‘Chirico Fridays’ and ‘Hyphen-Saturday’s when Rebecca Boyd-Obarski drives folks home from the bars.
  • Council member ‘Meter Reader Days’ thereby reducing the exposure of their constituents to added RF, and to criminals having electronic usage information.
  • City council members could do “$1 salary” months in lieu of their regular salary. Remember it’s about ‘public service’.
  • ‘Moser Tower Spackle Sundays’; council members can show their desire to keep the tower and the Carillon.
  • Making Tuesday night city council meetings, a revenue generating experience with council members wearing NASCAR-like attire at the dais. Each patch is a sponsor who kicks in cash to the SECA fund kitty.
  • Certain letters of the agenda can be sponsored by something. Take some wisdom from professional baseball. Example. “Every time there is an agenda item J-1 during the 2017 Naperville City Council season, it is proudly sponsored by Anderson Book Store. Anderson Book Store is a diamond level sponsor of agenda item J-1 and your Naperville City Council”.

There is no limit to the creativity Naperville city officials have in coming up with revenue-generating ideas to help residents rather than squeezing them for additional dollars.

Two city council members (Anderson and Gustin) have announced their candidacy for other offices. Rather than the same old, same old, campaign ideas, why not utilize some of the above. Show their potential constituency that they are willing to take a dunk, a pillow to the back of the head, or Spackle the tower, to help the good folks offset some higher fees and taxes that they voted for.

Show 6 Comments


  1. Jim Haselhorst

    Property tax in Naperville are comparable to those in neighboring communities closest in size, by population, to Naperville. Aurora and Bolingbrook property taxes are higher then Naperville’s on average. Dupage County’s average is lower then the state average. The City of Naperville has held the line on its portion of your property tax bill due to the city for over a decade. So city officials have not been squeezing anyone on this front and have made a conscious effect to provide residents relief in this area.

    Water and Utility rates in Naperville have gone up, but so have those of our neighboring communities, making Naperville’s rates still among the loses in the area. Its important to remember that Naperville Utilities are enterprise funds meaning by law they must be keep segregated from other city funds and can only be used to cover the operating cost of the utility in question. So any increase in these rates is due to increases in operating costs for the underlining utility, cost increases our neighboring communities are also experiencing.

    Even with an increased HRST Naperville sales tax rate will still be lower then it Neighbors meaning that truly conscientious and informed shoppers will still choose to shop, dine and play in Naperville. Yes it would be nice if the city didn’t raise this tax rate, but the reality is the city has not raised any of its other tax rates in years while at the same time nationally labor cost have gone up 2.6% last year and 2.3% the year before. So even though the city has keep its head count flat for around 15 years now it still has increased labor costs (over 75% of the city budget) that needs to be addressed.

    The city has been covering cost increases for the last 10 years by spending reserves and borrowing; activities that can allow city officials to kick the can only so far down the road before they have to address these funding issues and the end of that road has been reached. The rate at which maintenance costs, labor costs and borrowing costs have been increasing makes it no longer sustainable for the city to fund operations with reserves and borrowing, there simply has to be a new constant revenue stream to meet these funding needs.

    To those that say the city needs to cut its budget I say they have been for a decade now. The only cuts left are those that will significantly effect the quality of life in our community, so what part of your life do you want a have a lower quality of life in? Rougher road surfaces? Slower snow removal? Slower police response? Slower fire response? Less Parking? Less reliable water supply? Less reliable electrical supply? Less maintenance of city’s storm water system? Elimination of mosquito abatement? The list goes on.

    The recommendations above by the Watchdog are not real solutions and disregards the community efforts (charity work, community work, business outreach, etc) members of council have been doing over the years simply because they are not as publicly visible or as humiliating as the Watchdog would like. To use an old quote (attributed to Theodore Roosevelt) “Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining”, which would appear to be the Watchdog stock and trade when it comes to the city budget.

  2. John

    Oh boy , we have many excuses for not lowering costs . There is still room for lowering the head counts ,i.e police and firemen . But you will respond that this will jeopardize our safety . I hardly see a police presence in my neighborhood . I believe there are certain neighborhoods where crime is high and they should pay more for protection ,i.e downtown .
    We have used certain taxes reserved for donations and used them for budget shortfall . So there is a way to shift buckets of money .Let us not save the ugly tower and save $6Million . Here is a valid suggestion .
    We always seem to punish the average citizen in Naperville since we have no clout except during elections .

  3. Grant W.

    I think City Manager Kreiger would make an excellent LARPer. Knock Park would make an ideal location.

  4. Jim Haselhorst

    You say lower the police head count, other say we need more police presence (downtown, 95th, 75th, etc) which means more police. Asked the lady who was robbed of her ring at route 59 and 75th if she thinks fewer police are a good idea? The point of proactive policing is to create and environment were you rarely see a police officer in one’s neighborhood. It is hard to seriously consider reducing the number of police officers when The Watchdog himself has on several occasions commented on the increase in crime in our community, something anyone paying attention to current community events would be aware of.

    When you talk about taxes for donations and shifting use the only thing that comes to mind is SECA. If you know about the history of this fund then you know the costs it presently pays for (general city services) were provided without charge prior this this funds existence (as is typical for most cities) and this fund was created to ensure that organizations wanting to hold events that benefit the community were not disheartened by the large bill for city services that comes with hosting such and event. (Naperville requires using city services – public works, police and fire to do road closures and for public safety, which are expensive compare to the private contracts other cities allow such event holder to use instead). The creation of SECA was the sole reason for creating the food and beverage tax, eliminate SECA and you eliminate the promise made when creating this tax. All the events like arts and craft shows, wine and beer tastings, athletic events (5k, triathlons, bike races, marathons, etc), parades (St Patrick’s day, Labor day, Parade of lights,etc), celebrations (India days, Easter Egg hunts, Octoberfest, Santa town, Last Fling, Ribfest), etc would become economically unfeasible and vanish over night. I know some might say great to this but that’s not the end of the story,

    You see all these events are held by local non-for-profit charitable organizations as a means of fund raising to support locale charitable causes like food pantries, homeless shelters, autism, cancer, heart diseases, domestic violence, child abuse, animal shelters, DuPage Childrens Museum, etc. so when these events go so does the funding for charitable causes. And not just them be fund raising events for Naper Settlement, Naperville Library, the Riverwalk, and other city funded operations also vanish, which means more funding needing to come from taxes and taxpayers.

    So eliminating SECA may seem like a good idea but you must remember that of its $1.9 million budget over $1 million goes to city operations like the Riverwalk, Administrative operations, mortgage payments on city properties, etc. Eliminate SECA and you create a $1 million budget hole for the city.

    then you need to eliminate this tax and stop charging organization that host community events

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