Archive for the ‘ Payment Due? ’ Category
City of DeKalb employees and the group Ellwood Historic Neighborhood have hatched a new plan just in time to take up a line item in the FY2014 budget: Buy up multi-family homes in the north 5th Ward, convert them to single-family and resell each property at a loss. In fact:
“We have worked with a local realtor and contractor to identify a willing seller of a multiunit house in the neighborhood,” said David Castro, a member of the Ellwood House Neighborhood Group, a group of residents who have worked with the city in the past to restore the area.
Council has put this plan on hold. Good for you, council members! Personally, I would, too. I agree with Ald. Jacobson that DeKalb should not get into the business of property speculation. First and foremost because it is so, so bad at it (see: empty lots downtown). Read the rest of this entry
Once again let me express deep, deep skepticism that DeKalb Public Library will actually raise the stated goal of $6 million in private donations to contribute to its expansion costs.
Witness the latest step toward putting it on the taxpayers.
In order to meet a looming June 30 deadline, the DeKalb Public Library will borrow $6 million from a private bank as a part of its fundraising strategy for its planned expansion.
How does that even work? If DKPL can just walk into a bank and get a loan of millions, why is it asking the City of DeKalb for help?
Just as importantly, is there anyone who believes DKPL will honestly commit to fundraising once a bank loan is in hand?
If the library board were serious about raising funds from anybody besides Mr. & Ms. Taxpayer, it would have launched a capital campaign well before last month and passed the hat ’round its own table. As of December it hadn’t identified even one major donor and that’s got to be the case today, else they wouldn’t still be looking at borrowing the entire $6 mil.
I truly believe DKPL’s “fundraising strategy” is to use public money, period. Only the city council can change that course and it can start by applying the brakes Monday.
The City of DeKalb has been re-growing its post-recession General Fund reserve since FY2011, when a large reduction in force coupled with windfall revenues helped the city regain its financial footing. But are annual budget surpluses an indicator we’ve set out upon the right financial path? The latest Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) is now available, so let’s see if we can spot the trends.
The years represented in the above chart are the fiscal years, each of which runs July 1 through June 30.
The reserve looks pretty good now, but I believe it has given city leaders the wrong idea. Read the rest of this entry
Putting together DeKalb’s pension picture has been like a forestry hide-and-seek. Facts are the trees and while facts have been examined, there’s often an underlying feeling that the ecosystem has not yet been adequately described. So I keep going back in.
One “specimen” whose significance I failed to fully appreciate earlier is the shortfall between what is collected in city property taxes and the annual required contributions to the three pension funds. Unlike the State of Illinois, DeKalb faithfully makes yearly contributions; and if the property taxes don’t cover them, the city must free up additional revenues from the General Fund.
So far, such shortages appear to have fallen exclusively on IMRF and below is a piece of that picture.
Read the rest of this entry
Except in the case of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, DeKalb’s property taxes go toward pensions and FICA almost exclusively, and its share of your annual property tax bill is about 7%. Using these facts along with TIF revenue data, I set out to estimate how much city property tax flows into TIF funds that might otherwise have gone to city pensions.
the TIF funds
of the TIF take
Read the rest of this entry
In “DeKalb Gives First Approval to Property Tax Levy,” we get this:
The aldermen had previously set the ceiling for a property tax levy at $9.67 million, and were given two options by city staff to set the request at either $9.67 million or $9.63 million – the amount the city levied last year.
According to the Chronicle, the city council appears to support the higher levy, and the rate would go up, too, to about 79 cents. Anything else?
The city uses property tax revenue to fund pensions of city staff, police officers and firefighters. The $9.67 million request would be able to fund all the police and fire pensions, and 45 percent of the pensions of city staff. The other 55 percent will have to be made up from one of the city’s other funds, she said.
Let us summarize (using both today’s Chronicle story and Monday’s CB post.)
- As a rule, city property tax collected ONLY goes to city pensions.
- The property tax levy will probably go up for tax year 2012.
- As the levy goes up, the rate will go up, too — about 7 cents.
- A 7-cent hike would probably set a record.
- Despite a probable record hike — and the investment gains we showed you Monday — it’s said we still need to put more money up front to cover rising costs.
The agendas for the council meetings tonight include a public hearing about setting the city’s property tax levy, which they must think will be controversial because you must wade through 112 pages of the PDF file to get to the related items (also see page 114).
I was surprised to find out that the levy request is the same as last year, because it said in the newspaper that the rate was once again expected to go up significantly. Having to raise the rates repeatedly to keep the take the same is bad news. It reminds me of the utility tax problem. Some communities are beginning to recover, but not DeKalb, it seems.
Here’s one area where we ARE bouncing back, though:
Chronicle staff should live in this county for awhile before commenting on certain issues, such as what one can find today in “Our View: Falling home values a trying trend in county“.
When the housing market was healthy and new homes and businesses were built at a healthy clip, the opposite was true. Property values grew faster than the rate of inflation, property tax rates fell, and along with them, the tax cap led to decreases in annual tax property tax bills.
The person who has seen her property taxes rise on a modest home since 1993, some years by HUNDREDS more, is somewhat irritated to hear the Chronicle try to tell her otherwise.
Still, let’s stick to the facts. Here are the property tax rates and levies for the City of DeKalb* for each tax year since 2000:
2000 – 0.50490, $1,892,659
2001 – 0.52989, $2,121,088
2002 – 0.60566, $2,514,566
2003 – 0.59666, $2,600,088
2004 – 0.60000, $2,738,052
2005 – 0.59302, $3,022,165
2006 – 0.59672, $3,400,147
2007 – 0.60000, $3,742,937
2008 – 0.60000, $3,875,130
2009 – 0.65000, $4,185,457
2010 – 0.68990, $4,196,889
2011 – 0.72052, $4,197,062
Rates never fell during this period. Why? Because tax caps don’t apply to Home Rule communities.
Let’s do another one. Read the rest of this entry
The agenda for tomorrow’s city council meetings is here. Now, it finally becomes apparent* that the $6 million they’ve got stockpiled in the TIF 2 fund is mostly going to go into the Municipal Building. Of course, the use of TIF money for this purpose will bring in all kinds of new private development and tax revenues…somehow…right?
Also up for consideration at first reading are changes to the housing ordinances (see PDF pp. 39-40. As previously discussed, the main problem with the proposals (besides the costs) is the blurring of police functions with code enforcement functions. Such disregard for roles and boundaries will come to no good and I’m quite surprised the police department seems willing to risk its reputation with a mess like this.