Re:New Report

Perhaps you listened to the part of the WLBK mayoral candidates’ forum last month when I challenged the notion that installation of the synthetic skating rink had translated into more downtown shopping dollars (an argument for its purchase)–in which case you then heard in response the sound of our then-acting-mayor waving a sheet of paper he purported was proof.

I’m pretty sure Mayor-elect Povlsen was flapping this, a piece of the Re:New DeKalb Spring 2009 Report. I can’t swear to it, because he didn’t respond to a request to provide the information. At any rate, the aforementioned document deserves a close look, seeing as we taxpayers have spent $5.5 million on the downtown over the past four years (see p. 21).

The report does show steady growth in downtown sales, downtown sales tax collected, and the downtown’s percentage of citywide sales from 2005 to the end of 2008, but do the data indicate the skating rink–or any other single improvement–brought more shoppers downtown?

Answer: You can’t tell from what is given.

(Adapted from p. 27)

Downtown* Sales (estimated)
2005: $50,221,841
2006: $53,182,060
2007: $57,148,861
2008: $58,402,540

Downtown* Sales Tax
2005: $772,897
2006: $826,977
2007: $915,892
2008: $971,537

Downtown* Sales as a % of Citywide Sales
2005: 9.31%
2006: 9.14%
2007: 9.62%
2008: 9.93%

The upward trend over the past four years is certainly something to celebrate; however, additional numbers would assist in better understanding the extent of the accomplishment. For example:

  • What were the data for the years 2001-2004 & how does the current trend differ from the previous years?
  • What portions of improved downtown sales tax numbers are attributable to sales tax rate increases?
  • How much of the latest downtown sales increases were the result of transfer sales from outside the downtown (e.g., arising from the closing of Detox)?
  • If you have other questions that would lead to a clearer picture of the return on investment so far, let me have ’em in the comments, please.

    *Report calls the downtown the “central business district.”

    7 thoughts on “Re:New Report”

    1. It looks like taxpayers spent $5.5 million over four years to gain $198,640 in increased sales taxes. For every $27.68 spent, taxpayers will get back $1 in increased sales tax.

      Now, the question is, what about the property taxes? The property taxes are not in this picture yet. The total value of the property taxes of this area should be compared from what they were four years ago to 2008. If people care about the percentage of downtown sales to the rest of the busineses in DeKalb, then the total property taxes of downtown should then be compared to the rest of the property taxes of the businesses citywide. Also, that would take into consideration the increase in property values from the past four years, and see if downtown went up higher than the rest of the DeKalb businesses.

    2. Interesting, I see that the sales tax increased as the total of sales tax did. I almost have to say that sales were about the same. Property tax did not go up as much as we would need to justify the $5.5 million spent. Most of that money spent has to already be redone.

      I also question how many dollars has been left on the table with regards to property tax dollars over the past 23 years and now that the taxing bodies have extended for another 23 years where is the benefit to the taxing bodies? I would rather see the taxing bodies receive those dollars as that total would surely be greater than any amount they stand to collect after another 23 years if they don’t sign away the money again.

      I thought the airport was a big black hole but looking at and understanding TIF much better now, the downtown TIF is the biggest black hole I’ve ever seen.

      Also, can the City of DeKalb explain to us what is consider downtown DeKalb for the purposes of understanding the above report. Since downtown TIF monies were used for competing businesses and stores on Sycamore Road, are they including the same stores that these TIF dollars were used for?

    3. I saw this report ( or lack of information) when it first came out and have some real basic questions that need to be answered. I say that knowing fully well that they never will be properly answered. Great effort has been made to point out that CBD taxes received went from 772k in 2005 to 971k in 2008. These taxes were based on CBD estimated sales of 50m in 2005 increasing to 58m in 2008.

      But where is the drilled down data to support these numbers. I would like to know the following.

      1. A list of business entities collecting sales taxes in the CBD in 2005 and what they collected?

      2. A list of business entities collecting sales taxes in the CBD in 2008 and what they collected?

      Having this information would answer the the following questions.

      Was there really an increase in sales or did the district just grow geographically and add more business’ to collect taxes?

      Did some business’ actually show a large increase in sales and who are they?

      If the increase is a result of new business in 2008 that did not exist in 2005? What kind of busness are they and shold we be marketing them more?

      Is the increase in sales and subsequent taxes collected mearly a result of inflation of prices over the past 4 years? ( IE the 8m increase in sales is roughly a 04% increase each of the 4 years. How much of that is simply inflation and how much is the results of Renew’s effosts.)

      I would have many, many more questions about this report and it’s reported impact of the revenues collected but would be happy to get these answers to start.


    4. The EAV increase for what they are calling the CBD from 2005 to 2007 (with the note that 2008 is not yet available) increased 17.2%. I have yet to see a citywide EAV in the report, which looks more like a PowerPoint presentation modified into a PDF than a real report. They do compare sales tax from the CBD to citywide, so it should be only fair to ask for the citywide EAV change from 2005 to 2007.

      Just as an FYI: My house received no modifications from 2005 to 2007 yet its EAV went up 25.42%.

    5. OK, so I asked:


      In the 2009 Spring Report on page 27, there is a comparison between the CBD and citywide sales tax revenues from 2005 to 2008. Do you have a list of the businesses that were included in the CBD and those businesses citywide used to compute those numbers? How much did each of those businesses contribute to the sales taxes? How much of those increased sales between 2005 to 2008 can be attributed to inflation?

      On page 28, it shows there was an increased EAV listed for 2005 to 2008 (based on 2007 data that was available according to the asterisk) of 17.2%. Unlike the previous statistics in the report, there is not a comparison to the citywide change in EAV. What was the citywide change in EAV from 2005 to 2007?

      Thank you very much,

      Kay Shelton

      For inflation rates, try:

      From 2005 to 2006, the CPI went up 3.2%.

      From 2006 to 2007, the CPI went up 2.8%.

      From 2007 to 2008, the CPI went up 3.8%.

      From 2005 to 2008, the CPI went up 10.2%. The increase in sales from 2005 to 2008 on page 28 says they went up 16.3%. But, again, the CPI itself went up 10.2%.

    6. The TIF Sunshine Ordinance for the City of Chicago passed committee this week. There was blow back from the Windows and Doors fiasco, the place where the workers occupied the building. The company received TIF money years prior and the city lost money. TIF agreements in DeKalb appear as part of the back up materials the city posts but what Chicago *may get* *if* it passes the full City Council would be far more information available to the public:

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