DeKalb’s city council met again with DeKalb’s financial consultants, EPI/Crowe, to consider the latter’s latest report and recommendations.

The most important information to pass on to you is that the consultants told the council, at least twice AND in so many words, that the city will enter another financial crisis within five years if it doesn’t drastically change its operating model.

Yes, this concern has been a recurring topic at City Barbs since at least the time of the analysis of the Reduction in Force of 2010. Maybe they’ll listen now that they’ve paid someone to tell them these things. We’ll see.

Key to change, said the consultants, is strategy. Laying off people when you get into financial trouble is not strategic, it’s tactical. Strategic means planning for fulfilling needs 3-5 years out. Tactical is doing whatever it takes to get through the next year. One way is sustainable, the other a grubby little bandage giving temporary relief.

Bottom line, in my words alone: Getting rid of 30-plus employees is a desperate act borne of failure to recognize changing realities, and those responsible should not be allowed to pretend they are financial geniuses. Read the rest of this entry

The Holly House

Citybarbs is pleased to add to our blogroll another local voice, The Holly House, a blog devoted to “green living on a blue collar budget.”

The blog owner, a 4th Warder like me, has begun developing a proposal for amending DeKalb’s municipal code to allow residents to raise a few hens for eggs, as well chronicling her efforts to gain support for the proposal both inside and outside city government. It should be interesting to keep track of her experiences and progress.

The City of Batavia put its Community Development Committee onto the issue around this time last year. Batavia ultimately approved a backyard chicken ordinance in May, joining Naperville and St. Charles in allowing chickens on certain residential properties.

I left a comment at DeKalb County Online in response to 5th Ward candidate Rob Fischer’s possible support for a new TIF. Says Mr. Fischer:

TIF’s are one of the most powerful tools municipalities have at their disposal to renovate neighborhoods. My wife and I were just talking the other day about how the city could use a Children’s’ Museum. Maybe something like that could be a catalyst (along with a TIF) for South 4th St. How much longer do we want to look at the old KFC building for?

My response at DCO (with a couple slight edits) to follow. Read the rest of this entry

Alderman Gallagher’s Resolution

The Fourth Ward alderman has shared a New Year’s Resolution with us.

Are you tired of the same old Tea Party members in town who if you give them 60 minutes of your valuable time will try and explain every conspiracy to you? The same super knowledgeable people who show up for every City Council meeting…but don’t volunteer to serve on a committee to help make changes? Talk about hypocritical and selfish.

Well if you are in the majority of DeKalb citizens who have had enough of these shenanigans and want to take back DeKalb from these carpet baggers…then join my Coffee Achievers party! We stand for the promotion of the coffee bean and all those who drink coffee! We are anti-Tea Party!

That’s just the start. Whoever it is he is talking about he calls dumb, and says they’re whiners, and describes how he’s going to put them in their place and they’d better not cry about it. Then, he claims to be taking the high road, and wishes us a Merry Christmas.

The rant is somewhat incoherent, but it’s clear Gallagher’s real resolution is to alienate even more of his constituency.

Meeting Notes

First, the Hope Haven expansion vote. The good folks at HH have been raked over the coals for two months and it’s finally over. Many thanks to Mayor Povlsen and Aldermen Simpson, Teresinski and Verbic for their “aye” votes. Hat tip to Alderman Naylor for alluding to the double standard used for HH and the other residential project on the front burner — oh, and if you want to argue it’s apples and oranges, fine, but let’s DO have the argument.

Fourth Ward alderman Brendon Gallagher gets the “Let Them Eat Cake”/juxtaposition fail award for mentioning his country club hobnobbing during the annexation hearing and then vigorously rejecting a proposal that would help people down on their luck in his own ward. As for Alderman Kammes of the 7th, it’s a funny dang time for her to start responding to e-mail, but, whatev.

Much as I am clearly a cheerleader for Hope Haven, that matter overshadowed some serious financial news. Read the rest of this entry

Post-Meeting Open Thread

So, what did we learn from the latest Council meeting? We learned that, even though Fairview Drive residents have spoken at three meetings, made phone calls and sent letters and e-mail to them, one or more Council members perceived little opposition to forced annexation because the residents failed to arrive as an angry mob last night.

After talking with a few — they are my neighbors and some of them are my friends — my take is that they know a done deal when they see one. This was confirmed in fact by their new alderman, who remarked that the annexation’s been in the works for six months.

Two e-mails were forwarded to me today. The first is an appeal from one of the Fairview homeowners to be excluded from forced annexation. The second is 4th Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher’s response.

To: [City of DeKalb Council Members]
Subject: Involuntary annexation

11 June 2010

Mr. Gallagher, Council and Mayor;

I am writing to inform you of our opposition to the city’s intent to involuntarily annex the property at 1912 S. Fourth St. I am asking that you consider this property excluded from the annexation. The Lothsons purchased this lot in 1951 and built this home. They still own and live there today.

In 1993 when homes where built on Lucerne there was a meeting between then Mayor Sparrow, Mr. Monas, Mr. Naylor ( Public Works) Mr. Zima from the Sanitary District, my mother Mrs. Lothson, and myself. It was determined at that time that in order for this property to be connected to city water and sewer that a lift station needed to be installed and maintained by us. Read the rest of this entry

Questions have arisen about whether the owners of involuntarily-annexed properties would be obligated to hook up to city utilities. Here is a sampling of the applicable provisions of DeKalb’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), Chapter 23, Article 10.

10.02.02 Private Sewage Disposal Systems Limited

At such time as the sanitary sewer system becomes available within one hundred (100) feet of a property served by an existing private sewage disposal facilities, a direct connection shall be made to the public sanitary sewer system within ninety (90) days after date of official notice to do so, and any septic tanks, cesspools, and similar private sewage disposal facilities shall be abandoned, cleaned of sludge, and filled with clean bank-run gravel or dirt.

10.02.03 Sanitary Sewer Recovery Cost Read the rest of this entry

Fairview Annexation Map

When the letter about a “discussion” of involuntary annexation of unincorporated property along Fairview Drive went out to the property owners, it was marked “enclosure” but there was no enclosure. However, the city remembered to include it with the latest correspondence, a letter of intent to annex. It’s the map, below. Click on it to view a larger image.

Fairview Annexation Map

The public hearing on the involuntary annexations will be held next Monday, during the regular City Council meeting.