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

The Daily Chronicle notes that new DeKalb city manager Anne Marie Gaura has made some personnel changes. I am particularly gratified by this statement:

The moves all deal with personnel issues, a subject on which employers are generally limited on what they can say, but they could have announced they happened.

The Chronicle’s actual main point is that Gaura is shaking things up and it looks like the aim is to save money while improving service. This is something I’d love to embrace 100% but I keep getting hung up on the city’s failure to communicate these decisions until confronted.

By passing up opportunities to announce changes, DeKalb is squandering opportunities to rebuild trust that previous city leaders destroyed through a culture of dishonesty and secrecy.

Speaking of which, have you seen the video of Saturday’s town hall meeting yet? Distrust and suspicion were recurring themes.

Mayor Rey has un-ironically declared on his Facebook page, “I see a better, safer and more transparent DeKalb.”

Yet DeKalb is a town that:

— Told no one that its finance director had resigned until specifically asked about it more than a month later.

— Refused to announce the location of its warming center during the worst of the winter.

— Allowed citizens to find out the hard way last week that there was no one available to issue the permits that they needed.

The above events don’t reflect a better, safer or more transparent DeKalb. They are anti-public relations and furthermore enough removed from common sense as to have ventured a toe into the realm of the bizarre.

Now We’re Getting Somewhere

Turns out, City of DeKalb’s press release this week about hiring outside help has a backstory, and the Daily Chronicle has unearthed it..

New DeKalb City Manager Anne Marie Gaura wants the city to hire an outside financial expert after staff recently broke rules for making purchases in excess of $20,000.

First, the council approved the changes to city hall that included moving the finance office to the first floor and upgrading security. When city staff sought council approval, $14,000 in work had been completed, but the project was slated to cost $36,000. During their last meeting, aldermen approved a $22,864 expenditure for fitness equipment at the police station that had already been purchased using administrative tow funds.

“This just goes to the long history of the organization,” Gaura said. “It wasn’t anything intentional, but it indicated to me we need to improve our purchasing policies.”

Wow, dig it. The new city manager is saying it’s not OK to come to council for authorization to exceed the $20,000 spending authority after the fact. Think about what that might mean for fiscal discipline and accountability in DeKalb if the city manager is a stickler for the rules.