What timing I have! I posted city expenditures for Egyptian Theatre projects on Tuesday and now there’s a memo dated November 6 in the agenda packet for next Monday’s meeting about this (see page marked E-3, which is p. 13 of the PDF file, my emphasis added):
In March of 2013, the City Council agreed to amend the Egyptian’s FY12-13 agreement to add FY13 TIF funding in the amount of $125,000 and shift remaining bond monies to be used for the installation of a sprinkler system instead of air conditioning. Any funds leftover after the sprinkler system installation and the associated plaster repairs were completed were to be spent on a list of other prioritized expenses.
Since that time, the sprinkler system install, plaster repairs, and a significant portion of the items on the prioritized list have been done. However, due to the uncertain nature of renovating an existing historic structure, P.E.T. wanted to make sure that they had solid costs on the sprinkler system and plaster repairs prior to moving forward with the items on the prioritized list. While many of the items on the prioritized list have been checked off, they were not able to spend all of the FY13 TIF monies by the agreement deadline of October 1. The Egyptian Theatre is requesting that the remaining $90,809.82 in FY13 TIF funds be rolled into their FY14 agreement.
The Egyptian hit a deadline for FY2013 spending in October so I’m not implying anything by my remark about the timing; this item has to come up now anyway. Still, they seem to be taking lots of care to line up the ducks. Read the rest of this entry
Filed under: City Watch
| Tagged as: TIF
Last month I was going through recent City of DeKalb check registers for something or other and came across a payment out of DeKalb’s Central Area Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Fund for $189 with the description “EGYPTN THTR UNCLG BSMNT DRN.” I also found descriptions for “EGYPTN THTR STG DOORS LCKS” and “LGHT FXTR WMNS BTHRM.”
These items sounded more like regular maintenance than the private property rehab/development that TIF is supposed to support, but I figure the city probably has plausible excuses for them, perhaps repairs for damage done by clumsy plasterers or painters?
Two of the October entries are for engineering services with descriptions of “EGYPTN THTR ALLEY RCNSTRCTN.” This must be TIF-speak for “taxpayers are footing the bill for heated sidewalks.” Read the rest of this entry
Click on the image for a larger version.
As with yesterday’s clip, today’s video comes from a recording of the April 2013 workshop meeting involving DeKalb officials and the financial consultants Executive Partners, Inc. In this one, EPI’s Larry Kujovich explains why the city needs to shift to a more strategic, longer-term approach in allocating its resources.
The clip comes from the first couple minutes of this portion of the workshop video.
The setup: The April 2013 workshop meeting between city officials and their contracted financial consultants, Executive Partners, Inc., was coming to a close. EPI’s Larry Kujovich (on the left) and Rob Oberwise have been talking about the importance of image building to economic development. Alderman Ron Naylor remarks that economic development has been a priority for as long as he’s been involved with the city, so he asks, “Is there something that you’re saying we need to do more of?”
The clip comes from this 10-minute portion of the meeting video. Ald. Naylor’s question starts at 7:50 into it and both consultants respond. Watch to the end and you’ll see what impact Mr. Kujovich had on the discussion.
Last week I decided to email our almost-daily newspapers to let them know I’ve been searching them each day for news of the DeKalb city manager interviews. You’ll remember that last summer the date for the interviews was set for November 1, but a lot could have happened since then.
Then an article appeared in the weekend edition of the Daily Chronicle. (I don’t know if I can take credit for this or not.) It confirmed the date of the panel interviews but not much else.
You see, in July when the interview schedule was set, the Community Committee interview panel and a candidates’ evening meet-and-greet were designated public meetings, so I’d expected to get details about those events in the article as well.
I guess we second-class citizens who would like to attend the public events will need to make an extra effort to find out the where and when, unless we’re content to wait for the state-required public notices to come out Wednesday and scramble from there.
Of course, it’s entirely possible city officials have decided instead to renege on the earlier plans for openness and are now keeping all panels and the meet-and-greet limited to the select few. Read the rest of this entry
A reader sent me this yesterday.
If you’re new to DeKalb, I should explain that John Rey was elected mayor of DeKalb last spring.
To be fair, the city’s website search seems to have made a recovery today. It may even function better than it did before, though I say this cautiously, not having accessed the search for many months due to its years-long history of exceptional uselessness.
Still, even in the face of apparent improvement it doesn’t earn a “B” in my government website gradebook. That’ll happen when I no longer have to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests — as I did today — to get check register entries grouped by date, vendor and/or fund.
The campaign promises to bring us searchable databases ring hollow to my ears now, six months later.
I can’t believe hikes in taxes are even up for discussion.
Consultants estimated one option for renovating City Hall – including upgrades to the heating and cooling system, plumbing and fire protection system, among other things – would cost $3.7 million. City Council members also are exploring spending $7.5 million on renovations, with $5.5 million of that coming from tax increment financing dollars and $2 million coming from increases to gasoline taxes, water bills or property taxes.
From the article it sounds like Aldermen Jacobson, Snow and Baker do not support a plan to raise our taxes for this. Good. It’s bad enough the city will likely have to use TIF money to upgrade the HVAC instead of addressing our rotting neighborhoods, but raising taxes to put council chambers on the first floor would be absolutely obscene in view of the bills coming due for unpaid pension liabilities, public building construction and whopping raises for the rookie staff.
As an aside, I returned to my old home town in Indiana last weekend — you know, the one with real TIF oversight and an Ethics Commission, among other things. We paid 7% tax on our lunch bill, and when we went downtown near 7 p.m. on Friday we found the sidewalks filled with students and families and all the downtown shops lit and open.
A link to this city council special meeting agenda for Wednesday dropped into my inbox October 9.
I am 99.9% sure the closed meeting is about creating a short list of candidates for city manager, which is important to us and by no means a secret.
But unless you recognize the significance of the timing, how would you know? You’d have to take extra steps to find out.
Next time they brag about their openness and terrific customer service, laugh.
Meanwhile, the default response to this useless agenda should be: “What else are you keeping secret that you shouldn’t?” Because that’s what unnecessary mystery does to trust.
The plaintiff in a federal free-speech case with implications for local government meetings finally has a court date: October 21. From the Rock River Times:
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Rockford resident and former Winnebago County Board chairman candidate Michael Castronovo, alleges multiple violations of his free-speech rights at Winnebago County Board meetings and at Public Works committee meetings.
Some of these alleged violations may be related to the December 2008 change made to county ordinance 2-65 where “zoning items, personnel matters, or any pending or threatened litigation involving the County” became restricted topics for citizens at county board meetings.
Though it hasn’t yet gone to trial, the case has survived several pre-trial hearings. During one of the hearings, the presiding judge confirmed that all government meetings — even committee meetings — must include public comment sessions per the Illinois Open Meetings Act.
The lawsuit itself, however, alleges Constitutional violations of the First Amendment; specifically, prohibitions on the content of public comment.