Today we examine City of DeKalb’s assets, more specifically the relationship between capital assets and net assets in recent years, which have become an area of concern for me.

I’ve developed three charts containing year-over-year data from the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) submitted (as AFRs) to the Office of the Illinois Comptroller. The latest CAFR, for fiscal year 2013 ending July 31, was released in December.

All three track the net assets and capital assets, but I’ve shortened the time span in successive charts so we can spot both long- and short-term trends. They cover only governmental activities, not business/enterprise (water, airport) nor fiduciary (pension) activities.

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With assets, there are two types: current and non-current. Current assets are made up of cash, receivables, and a category called “other” on the AFRs that accounts for the miscellaneous such as prepaid expenses. Non-current assets are capital assets such as land, machinery and infrastructure (streets, bridges, etc.).

Capital assets have generally tracked fairly closely with net assets, but you can see the exceptions in 2006-7, when sales tax revenues began retreating from their earlier mad growth pattern; also in FY2012, with the savings from the large reduction in force; and again now with capital’s sharp divergence from net in FY2013.

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Net assets are combined current and non-current assets minus liabilities. That means different levels of cash, receivables, capital and liability are factors in the net, which is currently showing a trend of slow decline.

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Net asset stagnancy in this new, lauded era of annual expansions in General Fund reserves should concern us. If we care about the causes we’ve just eliminated one potential culprit, which is good. But buying trucks and building stuff are likely camouflaging weaknesses in the city’s overall financial health as well. Stay tuned.