DeKalb city manager Mark Biernacki entered into a contract agreement last fall with the firm Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, using his ordinance-given spending authority (PDF p. 55).

A professional services contract had been entered into by the City Manager, on behalf of the City Council, with the firm Klein, Thorpe, and Jenkins to conduct research and to prepare recommendations on code enforcement strategies and practices. The City Manager is authorized to enter into contracts provided the cost to the City does not exceed $20,000.

The city manager is authorized to enter into these contracts but to be more precise, the services must already be authorized budgetary expenses. He is not allowed to start new projects without permission.

Regardless of budgetary legitimacy, Mr. Biernacki obtained the blessing of the city council via one-on-one communications — no formal vote was taken at the time — to bring in KTJ under his spending authority. Then it got a bit more complicated.

To date [January 2012] this hourly rate contract has incurred a cost of $17,828 (see attached invoices). Given the growing expectations the City and the Housing Task Force have had of the firm (additional research, attendance at additional meetings, etc.), it is clear that the total cost of this contract will exceed $20,000. It is estimated the total will be in the range of $30,000 to $35,000. The Municipal Code requires that the Council ratify a previously entered into hourly contract where subsequent circumstances lead to a total cost exceeding the $20,000 cap.

Council authorized expenses incurred by KTJ up to $40,000. Shall we take a peek at the final tally?

Attempt to turn DeKalb into Mt. Prospect: $47,700.

Lack of accountability: Priceless.