With Sam's Club closing, Batavia making plans to fill $1 million hole

 
 
Updated 1/17/2018 4:56 PM
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  • The Sam's Club in Batavia is closing at the end of the month. Batavia officials are trying to figure out what to do about the loss of sales and liquor taxes, as well as utility fees.

      The Sam's Club in Batavia is closing at the end of the month. Batavia officials are trying to figure out what to do about the loss of sales and liquor taxes, as well as utility fees. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Batavia stands to lose about $1 million annually in revenue with the closing of the Sam's Club store, and officials will present a plan for dealing with that to aldermen next week.

"I met with department heads today. I feel like we are going to be able to present you with a good plan," City Administrator Laura Newman told the city council Tuesday.

She noted a discount furniture store is due to open a location near Target, that Sierra Trading is almost done with construction of its store near the Trader Joe's, and that Dollar Tree will be moving in next door to it.

"All three of these things together are not going to be able to close the hole that was blown (in the budget) with Sam's Club closing," Newman said.

Newman said that $1 million estimate also includes money from the city's liquor tax, and what Sam's Club pays for electricity, water and sewer service. The city is prohibited by state law from revealing how much sales tax and liquor tax is collected from an individual business, and finance director Peggy Colby said she can't reveal the utility amounts because then people would be able to figure out the sales tax.

Newman said if the property is vacant, its assessed value will decrease and its property tax bill may then go down. It paid $290,500 in property taxes in 2017; $198,893 of that went to the Batavia school district, and $12,919 to the city.

Newman said the city has adequate reserves, but since the Sam's Club loss will be ongoing, she is reluctant to tap into reserves.

"We have to look at our ability to operate (without the money) ... on an ongoing basis," she said.

Batavia's fiscal year began Jan. 1.

It had planned to hire an additional police officer. It would then rejoin the North Central Narcotics Task Force, which requires that member agencies supply an officer. Batavia dropped out of the task force in 2011.

The city also planned to hire a second building inspector.

Both those hires were put on hold the day the Sam's Club news came out.

Batavia's budget called for spending $137.33 million this year, with $28.3 million of that from the general fund, which supports most of the administrative, police, fire and street department work. It also budgeted $81.5 million for the enterprise funds -- mostly water, sewer and electric departments.

Mayor Jeff Schielke said Sam's Club officials have told him the company will sell the Batavia property on Randall Road. But he hasn't heard much else.

"It's been kind of quiet from them," he said.

Newman and Schielke said they are trying to find out if the Sam's Club gasoline station, which is on the property of the Walmart next door, will stay open.

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