Four years ago, I ran for mayor of DeKalb.
Among my concerns were the money being spent downtown and at the airport, the budgets and the city’s financial management in general.
Acting mayor Povlsen insisted in interviews and forums that DeKalb was in good financial shape, in fact once during a radio interview he angrily shook papers in my face when I suggested differently. Then, 10 months after he was elected, the city administration admitted DeKalb would be millions in the hole in short order if something drastic wasn’t done.
Twenty people were laid off that year. Twenty families had the rug pulled out from under them to build a General Fund reserve for the mayor to brag about upon his exit.
Well, $3 million was our reserve level before the budget crises began. It’s nothing special. And neither is a man who can’t conjure the slightest bit of sorrow for the suffering he caused.
Filed under: Council/City Watch
| Tagged as: budget
OK, Council, you said you’d bond out no more than $12 million but now staff is coming at you with a proposal for borrowing $14 million.
It’s not that Peace Road and the fire stations don’t need attention. They do — especially Station 2. But is this really the way to do it? Bundling the police station funding with three other projects ’cause it’s “only” $2 mil more? Because there’d not be much time to examine the fine print on the new proposals.
Let’s start with some fine print about asbestos in Station 2, a 55-year-old building. It is not mentioned in the agenda backup memo. How much of the $180,000 estimate is meant for asbestos removal/remediation? When do we get to find out?
DeKalb budgeted $375,000 in contingencies this year, which is a lot more than usual. I didn’t understand all of the abbreviations so I asked about them and here’s the poop scoop:
Management Compensation Study — $5,000
Emerald Ash Borer — $75,000
Housing Study (w/NIU) — $45,000
Code Enforcement — $150,000
TIF Study — $50,000
EPI Study — $50,000
I’m not sure what the TIF study is about (nor do I know why a TIF study isn’t paid out of a TIF fund) but have you seen this RFP yet?
The Code Enforcement contingency is just in case administrators are able to push through its licensing and inspection ordinance despite opposition from the Safe/Quality Housing Task Force.
Yes! EPI does mean the possible return of financial consultant Executive Partners, Inc.
Filed under: Council/City Watch
| Tagged as: budget
We need for DeKalb to collect, at minimum, about $30,000 in Corn Fest annual revenues on behalf of DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport (DTMA) because that’s what city administrators told the FAA it would do.
They also said they’d put these revenues, consisting of sales taxes and parking fees, directly into the airport fund instead of dumping them into the General Fund and making transfers. They have not yet made this change, so I requested the numbers through the Freedom of Information Act.
Make the jump to see how well we’ve done. Read the rest of this entry
DeKalb city manager Mark Biernacki entered into a contract agreement last fall with the firm Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, using his ordinance-given spending authority (PDF p. 55).
A professional services contract had been entered into by the City Manager, on behalf of the City Council, with the firm Klein, Thorpe, and Jenkins to conduct research and to prepare recommendations on code enforcement strategies and practices. The City Manager is authorized to enter into contracts provided the cost to the City does not exceed $20,000.
The city manager is authorized to enter into these contracts but to be more precise, the services must already be authorized budgetary expenses. He is not allowed to start new projects without permission.
Regardless of budgetary legitimacy, Mr. Biernacki obtained the blessing of the city council via one-on-one communications — no formal vote was taken at the time — to bring in KTJ under his spending authority. Then it got a bit more complicated.
To date [January 2012] this hourly rate contract has incurred a cost of $17,828 (see attached invoices). Given the growing expectations the City and the Housing Task Force have had of the firm (additional research, attendance at additional meetings, etc.), it is clear that the total cost of this contract will exceed $20,000. It is estimated the total will be in the range of $30,000 to $35,000. The Municipal Code requires that the Council ratify a previously entered into hourly contract where subsequent circumstances lead to a total cost exceeding the $20,000 cap.
Council authorized expenses incurred by KTJ up to $40,000. Shall we take a peek at the final tally? Read the rest of this entry
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District 2 is described in city budget narratives as running south of the downtown but north of Taylor Street.
Annual TIF 2 expenditures generally include:
$250-300,000 in economic incentives to Target
rehab, repairs and/or improvements to Barb City Manor and the Municipal Building
about $150,000 in transfers to the General Fund
This year, improvements at Founders Elementary (which lies south of Taylor) are planned as well.
ASSS*, from the middle column in the table below, stands for the expenses that reliably reflect area-wide improvements: alley, sidewalk, stormwater and street.
Once you wrap your mind around how few dollars, relatively speaking, go to helping the district at large, get a load of the ballooning fund balance.
Nice little pile o’ slush they’ve got there. Read the rest of this entry
Yesterday there was a lot of news coverage about Chicago’s forecast inability to finish its planned Tax Increment Financing (TIF) projects now that property tax revenues are down.
Coincidentally, I’ve been peering at DeKalb TIF funds recently, looking for the same kind of trouble.
Fund 63 is the DeKalb TIF fund that pays for development and development services in the Central Area AKA Downtown TIF or TIF 1. Fund 225 is the fund for TIF debt service. We’ll look at both of them today. Read the rest of this entry
I decided to see if DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport has made progress in growing its non-governmental revenues now that it has added fuel sales and new tenants.
Below is a table showing the primary revenue category, rentals, along with the newbie, fuel sales. These are not the only non-governmental revenues, but the remainder combined don’t normally top $20,000.
Revenues & Costs->
Hangar rentals seem to have recovered from a slump and, assuming the FY2012 estimate and FY2013 projection are accurate, rental income is now showing some growth.
Fuel sales are expected to net $43,750 this year. Will that kind of revenue take-off cover the compensation of the employees they’ve hired to pump fuel? Let’s look. Read the rest of this entry
Soon the DeKalb city council will be deciding what steps to take, if any, in response to recommendations made by the Safe/Quality Housing Task Force and by its own staff. They include proposals for a “disorderly house” ordinance, issuance of Crime Free Lease addenda, and regulations for the registration, licensing and inspection of rental properties.
As longtime readers know, licensing and inspection of rental properties — and new revenues to pay for them — are dreams that have danced in the heads of city administrators for several years. The question is whether such initiatives would be worth the cost to residents, especially the group living here who’ve been walloped by the economy and made to watch the TIF boondoggle at the same time.
Obviously I’ve been suspicious from the get-go — and not buying the new crop of staff arguments for licensing and inspection, either. Read the rest of this entry
I’ve re-visited previously published revenue tables in an ongoing effort to monitor DeKalb’s financial recovery. Are we yet on solid financial ground? Make the jump to see what you think. (FYI this is a long one, folks.) Read the rest of this entry