A few days ago in another post I said this:
Fine/fee revenue can be highly variable, as we’ve seen with the disappearance of building permit revenues. TIF districts have time limits and both of ours expire at the end of the decade. These are appropriate sources for making capital improvements as you can. They are not meant to cover permanent, fixed costs yet that is exactly what is happening.
That post ran long, so I saved elaboration on the above point for another day. But now I’ve picked it back up with a vengeance. Read the rest of this entry
The City of DeKalb released its FY2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report last month, and as usual there’s plenty to digest. A large part of this report draws data from supplemental reports found in the back of the CAFR, some of which track the past 10 fiscal years and are therefore useful for understanding the lingering effects of the Great Recession on the local economy.
First up, I’ve prepared a chart of taxable sales. Retail sales taxes make up more than 40% of DeKalb’s operating budget — no other single revenue category comes close — so sales and the taxes they generate are important indicators of economic health.
The advantage of looking at the sales themselves instead of the tax revenues is that you don’t have to account for sales tax hikes, abatement deals and other “noise” in the data.
Of course there’s a lot of overlap between state and local sales, but showing them both underscores the trend, which is this: Taxable sales have stabilized since 2009, but they’ve more or less stabilized at 2005 levels.
And it’s not just retail sales that have stagnated. DeKalb’s share of the state income tax is climbing, but so far has only made it back to 2008 levels. Utility tax revenue totals for FY2014 were less than FY2012’s.
Water sales were down by 5.2%. If you think about the combo of utilities and water falling, it seems likely that it can’t all be about plugging leaks and conservation. DeKalb’s likely still losing population.
City government, however, is bucking that trend. Read the rest of this entry
Overtime comprised most of DeKalb PD’s excessive spending over budgeted amounts for FY2014, but another major culprit was spending in the “Commodities” category that came to roughly twice as much as the $260,000 budgeted.
Commodities were clearly under-budgeted in 7 of 10 accounts in that category and in a couple cases downright unrealistically. For example, actual costs for gas, oil and antifreeze for that department came in a bit over $117,000 for FY2013, yet PD budgeted only $95,000 for the same item the following year.
What’s going on? My guess is that the decision to return expenses from off-budget accounts back into the department’s budget accounts was an unexpected development.
Fortunately, spending for general government was lower than budgeted and this partially offset the excessive spending on public safety, leaving the city at a mere $347,773 over its General Fund budget for the year.
City of DeKalb FY2015 Budget
Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2014
Auditor’s Letter to Management (see p. 6 of the PDF)
City of DeKalb’s Downloads Page (Look under the Finance heading for annual budgets and CAFRs)
The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for FY2014 is out. So far the document is only accessible as part of the December 8 council meeting agenda, but at some point will probably appear on the city’s downloads page under the Finance title.
Let’s stick a toe in by first visiting the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport (DTMA) annual operating deficits:
The city has to make up for the deficits using tax money that would otherwise go to general operations.
DTMA took on fuel sales a couple years ago, and all of its hangar space is rented out (PDF p. 143). I do not know whether the city has recently compared rental rates with other airports, but if not that might be a good next step to ensure that taxpayers aren’t subsidizing operations any more than they have to.
DeKalb city staff have come up with a proposal to raise the city’s property tax levy by 10%. Daily Chronicle reports that the council gave initial approval on Monday.
Here’s how the city is presenting the recommendation:
City staff want to move away from the current practice of using the general fund to pay for pension obligations property tax revenues don’t cover. Finance Director Cathy Haley explained property taxes currently fully fund police and fire pension obligations and 97 percent of Social Security and Medicare costs. But only 26 percent of the city’s costs for the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund comes from property taxes, leaving the general fund to cover more than $720,000.
A 10 percent increase would bring in an additional $495,000, fully fund Social Security and phase in fully funding IMRF obligations through property taxes, Haley said.
Council will furthermore consider the recommended hike in a joint meeting with the Financial Advisory Committee tonight.
The most important thing to understand is that the discussion is not just about setting the levy for the upcoming tax year, but about committing to a significant policy change in how the city chooses to fund its pensions — possibly for years to come. Read the rest of this entry
From the Daily Chronicle today comes “DeKalb aldermen confront budgeting issues.”
During their Monday discussion of the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1, DeKalb aldermen were told the city will need to cut services or boost revenue in order to maintain operations in the coming years.
Beginning July 1, alderman were told, the city should shift its structure and look at the way the general fund is used.
“The main thing is the current structure of how everything is put together is not sustainable,” City Manager Anne Marie Gaura said. “Something has to change and that will require policy decisions in the coming months and coming years on how to address this long-term.”
Gee, where have I heard this before? Read the rest of this entry
First, let’s update our pension percentage-funded chart with the FY2013 numbers. These are from Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs).
City of DeKalb is quick to tout its balanced budgets and its growing “reserves.” But if DeKalb is doing so well, why isn’t it making up the pension-funding ground it lost during the past two recessions? Read the rest of this entry
Today we examine City of DeKalb’s assets, more specifically the relationship between capital assets and net assets in recent years, which have become an area of concern for me.
I’ve developed three charts containing year-over-year data from the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) submitted (as AFRs) to the Office of the Illinois Comptroller. The latest CAFR, for fiscal year 2013 ending July 31, was released in December.
All three track the net assets and capital assets, but I’ve shortened the time span in successive charts so we can spot both long- and short-term trends. They cover only governmental activities, not business/enterprise (water, airport) nor fiduciary (pension) activities.
Read the rest of this entry
Filed under: City Watch
| Tagged as: cafr
As in the last post, I’ve gathered year-over-year information using City of DeKalb’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) as reported to the Illinois Comptroller.
All governments have to do CAFRs and we ordinary citizens are supposed to be able to understand them. As a layperson I try to figure out why and how the numbers vary year to year, and over time this tactic teaches me. CAFRs also provide details on debt and other long-term liabilities.
Let’s start with an updated chart that will look familiar to you if you follow my budget and CAFR posts. Read the rest of this entry
Filed under: City Watch
| Tagged as: budget
The City of DeKalb did me a HUGE favor. When I first went to look for the FY2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) earlier this month, it hadn’t been uploaded to the city’s website yet (though it is there now). So, I turned to the Illinois Comptroller’s online collection of local government reports instead.
The report forms there (called AFRs) have barely changed since FY2004, which allowed me to work up, in no time at all, some year-over-year comparisons of the type I do so love to create for you. This set I call “A Documentary of the Biernacki Regime” because it encompasses the 10-year tenure of former city manager Mark Biernacki.
Thanks, CoD! Read the rest of this entry
Filed under: City Watch
| Tagged as: budget