Special Meeting on Muni/Police Building & Financing

A special meeting Monday of the DeKalb City Council and the Financial Advisory Committee is set to examine two Municipal Building remodeling/building options with emphases on police station space needs and improved access for people with disabilities.

The Good
One of the options presented includes a proposal to sell off city property worth $2.2 million to help finance a renovation and addition.

The Bad
We don’t know where the rest of the money will come from. Perhaps some bucks have been “freed up” by the debt restructuring. After paying some employees twice for not working and having the General Fund balance dip to $22,000 recently, it’s uncertain whether they can make a solid case for it, though.

Maybe some of the renovation will qualify for TIF funding, but if we are going to have the discussion we must have more information in hand about the current and projected performance of our TIF districts. The Muni Building lies in TIF 2, which is small and services Barb City Manor improvements plus a few alley and sidewalk rehabs each year. TIF funds would necessarily have to be transferred from the downtown TIF district, but the last hurrah of pavers and planters was financed through GO bonds, yes? So stellar tax increment performance may be in doubt?

Arguing that the 20% higher expenditure for the second option would be more cost effective over the long haul may be a moot point!

The Miscellany

I predict that at least one of the two longest serving members of the council will un-ironically express a sense of urgency to begin the project, despite bearing some responsibility for the 12-year delay in addressing the police station space problems in the first place.

Additionally, it’s mildly surreal reading about the city’s need to make the Muni Building accessible to people with disabilities at the same time it’s building an obstacle course on downtown sidewalks.

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Let’s make this an open thread so you can choose your own topic if you like. Have you taken the tour of the new DHS yet? Tell me about the piano.

9 thoughts on “Special Meeting on Muni/Police Building & Financing”

  1. Look at the perspective here. We’re talking about a 30 year facility costing about two years of salary and benefits of the police force.

    I’m not saying everyone isn’t worth what they are getting, but if magically there was a 25% rollback in police salary and benefits for eight years, that would pay for the facility entirely.

    Looked at another way, why are we being so cheap on giving such an important function the facilities they need to conduct their business efficiently and safely?

    Seems to me it is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.

    Would probably have paid for itself quicker than that investment in bricks and burying cable.

  2. I just left this comment at DeKalb County Online:

    I don’t see how we possibly can discuss this without more detailed information on the financing options. How about these questions for starters.

    — Can we get a recap of the amount of money “freed up” by the debt restructuring?

    — How much of each renovation proposal would qualify for TIF? Even if we think TIF money is appropriate, are the TIFs performing well enough to take this on?

    — What other parcels of city-owned land are/can be put up for sale and what would be the expected proceeds?

    — Are compensation cuts on the table this year?

    — What’s left of the EPI reorganization recommendations and how much would the savings be in implementing them?

    Etc.

  3. First things first. The word “we” is a very broad use in the comment above where Anon asks why “we” are being cheap in regards to the police department’s space needs. Many of us in this community have repeatedly demanded and pointed out the necessity to provide ALL the necessary tools needed by our police department. Many have consistantly stated to uncaring and non-listening mayors and aldermen for many years that police (and fire) department were much more of a prority for scarce and valuable tax dollars than the foolish plan for revitalizing downtown.

    Just go ahead and call the paver brick parking lot or “Povlsen’s sidewalk to nowhere” the next time you need the services of our police department.

  4. Now to respond to your comments:

    Are city employees worth what they are being paid? Yes, but it’s not a matter of worth, it’s what we can afford for staff and the facilities and equipment to get the job done. It always does come back to the needed compensation “reset,” doesn’t it.

    Why are we being so cheap? Well, I’ll bet that if ReNew DeKalb had announced its support for a police station, it would have been done already. Council can’t seem to find its way without ReNew setting the priorities.

  5. All one has to do is take a tour of our police station. Chief Feithen will give you the tour personally when you make an appointment.

    The attempt to liquidate existing properties is nothing more than a joke especially with the market the way it currently is during this economic downturn. $2.2 million is not realistic today and really shows how out of touch city hall is. $500,000.00 (yes I said Five HUNRED Thousand Dollars) at best is what these properties would generate and that would have to be from a very generous land buyer who knows what these dollars are purposed for. We surely will not see a break even return especially since the dollars spent by Biernacki and company was stupidly high in any market. This is also a result of foolishly expediting sales due to being nervous that plans may be halted.

    Smart spending, additional cuts from less essential departments, non-essential assets sell off, pay freezes across the board, and writing of any and all grants possible for law enforcement. Increase fees charged to NIU for fire and paramedic services, and somehow, DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport must return dollars they received from the General Fund.

    I cannot see how TIF even has come close to regenerating its coiffures. Maybe a forensic audit will find a million or two hiding somewhere?

  6. There is no doubt that the selfish wants and a cleverly conceived urgency by members in Renew:DeKalb including their #1 cheerleader at the time, Mayor Frank Van Buer,deceased, pushed this downtown project thru with rocket fuel in their engines.

    While on the Renew group, many of which also were very vocal members in Renew:DeKalb School, it can now be said that the actions of Renew members and the DeKalb School board have literally tied the hands of local taxpayers. They have done this by overbuilding and overspending on the new high school facility.

    Wouldn’t it be nice right now if the $3.4 million being spent for the football stadium could have been freed up for the police department?

    Wouldn’t it be nice right now if the School Board and its voluntary committee, the Facilities Planning Committee would have listened and honestly considered new information uncovered thus redesigning the new high school down too 280,000 square feet instead of 400,000 square feet plus and allowing for future expansion as and when truly needed saving $16 to $20 million in bonds?

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the newly elected school board members saw fit to at least take $20 million of the recently received $21.6 million from the state to pay down the $110 million dollar bond? This giving a little breathing room to property owners paying exhorbitantly rising property taxes solely due to school district imposed levies.

    The greediness of our school board really has hog tied the city council in not being able to properly fund the immediate and long awaited needs of our police. This and a very foolish list of priorities by Mayor Povlsen and the city’s aldermen. It is nothing less than an embarassing moment in this communities history that our community couldn’t find it a priority years earlier to provide for the communities safety properly and provide for their police department.

  7. I did not see the Steinway. I was hoping to be able to hear what chopsticks sounded like on a $103,000.00 piano. Didn’t happen.

    I have some nice pictures from the roof and front ground level. We were moving fast inside. School disrict web site has many pictures.

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