Library ShelvesThe DeKalb Public Library has a current annual budget of $1.9 million, yet apparently has enough funds on hand to buy property valued at $1.8 million. That’s quite a reserve! Normally for slush I’d call for a refund (about $40 per resident) but perhaps we should ask DKPL to help the city save for the police station instead. [/snark]

At any rate, in trying to ascertain whether red flags went up for the auditor regarding DKPL’s budgeting practices, I’ve resorted to a careful reading of Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR, pronounced KAY-fur) and am through nearly 40% of the CAFR for FY2009. Generally it’s not as bad a slog as one might fear, though there are exceptions…

In fiscal year 2008, the General Fund advanced $670,000 to the Airport Fund, which will be repaid from future airport revenues, and in fiscal year 2009 the General Fund assumed the $730,000 advance owed to the Water Fund, leaving a balance advanced of $1,400,000. Also, in fiscal years 2001, 2002 and 2007 the County Home Tax Increment Financing Fund was advanced $159,889, $100,111 and $17,000, respectively, by the Tax Increment Financing #1 Fund. $125,000, $100,000, $375,000, $280,000 and $285,000 was repaid in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009, respectively, leaving a balance advanced at June 30, 2009 of $12,000, which will be repaid from future incremental tax revenues. The Health Insurance Internal Service Fund advanced $400,000 and $118,000, in fiscal years 2008 and 2009, respectively, to the Worker’s Compensation Internal Service Fund. The Refuse Fund (Nonmajor Enterprise) advanced $420,000 to the Water Fund in fiscal 2008 to be paid from future water revenues. $370,000 was repaid in fiscal year 2009, leaving a balance of $50,000 to be repaid from future water revenues. The Water Fund advanced the Airport Fund $630,000 in 2004 and $104,100 in 2005. $4,100 was repaid in 2008, and the General Fund assumed the remaining $730,000 in 2009, leaving a balance advanced of $0 to be repaid from future airport revenues. The General Fund advanced the Development Services Fund $130,000 in fiscal year 2009. Finally, the General Fund advanced the Capital Projects Fund $50,000 in 2008 and $385,000 in 2009, for a total of $435,000.

…Just sharing the joy. ;-)

Along the way I’ve been able to answer a couple questions that have come up in e-mail and conversation so far:

  • The DeKalb Public Library is considered a component unit of the City of DeKalb. Though its board is appointed by the mayor with the approval of the city council, and its budget and tax levy are approved by the council as well, DKPL is otherwise a legally separate entity.
  • DKPL does not have the authority to issue debt. It would have to persuade the city council to approve a bond issue on its behalf.

I could see a repeat of the police facilities fiasco, couldn’t you? As in: Buy the property, prep the property, get an architect involved and then have the city council balk at issuing bonds for construction — as well they should under the present circumstances! — which once again would leave us out several million dollars with nothing to show for it. Along with a needed investigation of a possible pattern of Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act violations, this is another good reason for shelving the property purchase until it gets a thorough public airing.

Be sure to visit DeKalb County Online for the latest.