I am loving the budget talks, mostly. They make me feel like the city is in much better hands than it used to be.
For example, in response to a question from a Financial Advisory Committee member last Saturday, the city manager confirmed: Revenues that for the previous year had been spent out of (off-budget) balance sheet accounts have all been returned to the budget.
We probably dodged a bullet, and by that I mean city administrators have reversed a corrupt trend that eventually could have rendered meaningless the annual DeKalb budget.
But we still have the same council.
Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor and 3rd Ward Alderwoman Kristen Lash contended the city has held the line on property taxes because the dollar amount the city collects has not changed much in previous years.
“When I look at it from year to year and see that I’m paying the same amount from year to year, that’s not an increase,” Lash said. “I’m paying the same amount.”
David Jacobson, 1st Ward alderman, contended “holding the line” could be seen as a tax increase considering the drop in property values.
Jacobson is right, but in my opinion he is not going far enough. We should figure out how much the conscientious underfunding of the pensions during the past decade has cost us.
You see, every dollar we short the pension funds is a dollar that can’t be invested. I don’t know about you, but my assets have performed very well the past few years — it’s a shame that our pension funds couldn’t have maximized their earnings in this market.
That’s not to say that underfunding is the only problem with the public pensions. It’s not. But a council truly serious about “holding the line” for our sake would be doing a bit less self-pleasuring and a lot more work toward a solution.