The DeKalb County Health Department is trying to persuade our county board to place a referendum on the November election ballot to begin levying a property tax specifically for health services.

If this referendum does appear on the ballot, the most pressing questions for voters must include evaluation of needs, and of DeKalb County’s stewardship of our money.

Turns out, I have an example related to the latter for you to consider. Let me introduce you to Cindy and Ed. Read the rest of this entry

When I told you about City of DeKalb’s policy to allow staff in administrative positions to bank comp time — as well as how much comp certain employees had accumulated — I could not include the comp and other accumulations of former city manager Mark Biernacki because he’d already cashed out in mid-June. But, here are the payout numbers for you. Read the rest of this entry

The employment contract between City of DeKalb and its new manager, Anne Marie Gaura, is part of the agenda for Monday’s council meeting.

I’m pretty pleased about this pick — Gaura’s resume looks the best to me of all the city manager candidates in terms of range and depth of experience — and I’m pleased with this contract, too. It has an expiration date. And look here:

The Parties acknowledge that under current provisions of City Code, Chapter 3 employees are entitled to accrue and be compensated for “Comp Time” or “Compensatory Time.” Notwithstanding such provisions, the Parties expressly agree and acknowledge that Employee is a management employee, exempt from FLSA overtime provisions. Employee shall not accrue or be eligible to be compensated for Comp Time or Compensatory Time, and any contrary provision of Chapter 3 shall be inapplicable to Employee.

They maybe ended up having to offer more salary in exchange for the Chapter 3 exemption, and that’s fine. Salary goes up front on the very publicly-discussed budget, while comp and other such paid leave accumulations take compensation off budget and push it into a little corner of growing liabilities in annual financial reports that only a few oddballs like me bother to read.

Anyway, these are welcome changes. Hat tip to His Honor and the council for some good decision-making lately. If Gaura is as tough and honest as she is experienced, DeKalb could really be looking at a new day.

This is more from the June 2013 Benefits Hours Report I was telling you about yesterday.

of Hours
300 Sick Pay4,172.7579,776.103,073,591.38
400 Vacation11,442.5021,029.66811,315.64
500 Comp Used1,974.7512,397.48457,938.93
550 Floating Hldy384.00185.008,590.87
560 Banked Comp45.0016,427.10807,522.19
301 Sick Pay Fire2,274.2550,421.751,544,619.90
401 Vacation Fire7,920.0010,608.00326,591.66
501 Comp Used Fire.00317.6310,018.57
561 Banked Comp Fire.002,169.6468,972.21

You can see that the banked comp (560) truly is banked, and the administrator-depositors are enjoying nice, risk-free annual increases when raises and COLAs are applied.

The caps on unused sick leave are very high in all departments. In fact, there are about 50 city employees who, thanks to overly-generous sick leave and/or comp time policies, could quit their jobs tomorrow and potentially walk away with checks for more than $50,000. Read the rest of this entry

Comp Time Champs

***Clarification*** added 12/3 due to a question that came up in this Facebook discussion: Firefighters often work overtime and they almost always receive overtime pay for it. However, according to their contract they might with permission accumulate a little comp time instead, up to 205 hours, after which no more comp time is permitted to be accumulated. My investigation of firefighter comp time actually turned out to be a red herring when it comes to high accumulations of paid leave and I only mentioned it to show that the path to the truth is not always linear.***

I’ve continued to look at the DeKalb firefighters’ current labor contract with the city since it is set to expire at the end of June. It says that fire personnel may accumulate up to 205 hours of comp time, so I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for comp time records for firefighters at about the end of the 2013 fiscal year (end of June or early July).

Luckily, I received more than I asked for because DeKalb Fire isn’t so much the story here.

Below is information about banked comp time hours drawn from a Benefit Hours Report that was generated June 26, 2013. Repeat: This is banked comp time only.

Name & Position/Dept.Banked Hours AvailableAvailable Cost
Espiritu (Asst. City Mgr.)689.845,399.19
Cleveland (Airport Mgr.)1660.075,525.02
Bauling (Engineering/Code/Transportation)1776.580,825.42
Maurer (Engineering/Code/Transportation)5337.0304,449.17
Hicks (Fire Chief)640.539,456.72
Hoyle (Fire)504.029,130.39
Hoadley (Police)706.5540,837.46
LeMay (Fire)1030.628,767.24

Another two dozen city employees had banked $5,000 to $25,000 in comp by the time of the report.

I’ll put up more numbers later this week.

Related post: On the Trail of the Legendary Comp Time Monster.

Justice is Served in Bell

We return our attention to Bell, California. Administrators and council members there paid themselves exorbitant salaries while cutting city services, overcharging taxes and fees, and creating a major municipal revenue source out of a vehicle impounding program.

This and more was accomplished in a roughly DeKalb-sized town with per capita income of $24,000.

Now, today I was sent a link (thanks!) to an article with this beautiful headline: Bell Council Members Guilty of Multiple Corruption Counts.

Five former council members were found guilty of stealing public money. Two former city administrators are still awaiting trial.

Key factors in the corruption seem to include a lack of oversight — Bell does not have its own newspaper — an aggressive city manager “mastermind,” and Bell’s status as a charter city, which allows its government to ignore state limits on salaries and other spending.


Site news: Posting is sure to remain very light through the rest of March and into April as the write-in campaign for city clerk continues. One way to be notified when I’ve posted is to visit or ask to join the City Barbs Facebook group if you use FB a lot.

In “DeKalb Gives First Approval to Property Tax Levy,” we get this:

The aldermen had previously set the ceiling for a property tax levy at $9.67 million, and were given two options by city staff to set the request at either $9.67 million or $9.63 million – the amount the city levied last year.

According to the Chronicle, the city council appears to support the higher levy, and the rate would go up, too, to about 79 cents. Anything else?

The city uses property tax revenue to fund pensions of city staff, police officers and firefighters. The $9.67 million request would be able to fund all the police and fire pensions, and 45 percent of the pensions of city staff. The other 55 percent will have to be made up from one of the city’s other funds, she said.

Let us summarize (using both today’s Chronicle story and Monday’s CB post.)

  • As a rule, city property tax collected ONLY goes to city pensions.

  • The property tax levy will probably go up for tax year 2012.

  • As the levy goes up, the rate will go up, too — about 7 cents.

  • A 7-cent hike would probably set a record.

  • Despite a probable record hike — and the investment gains we showed you Monday — it’s said we still need to put more money up front to cover rising costs.

Read the rest of this entry

The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) includes a table called “Schedule of Funding Progress” for each pension fund that the city is responsible for. An actuary determines the fund assets and liability, and from these are calculated the percentage that the fund is funded as well as the unfunded liability in dollars. I’ve pulled numbers from three or so CAFRs to bring you 12 years’ worth* of these calculations in graphic form.

Read the rest of this entry

Comp Time
Comp Time
AFSCME240 hours240 hoursCity can pay out some or all comp at any time
FOP146 hours130 hours
IAFF205 hours205 hours
Chp 3/Mgt.60 days60 daysEmployee can request a 1-time buyout prior to retirement

Yes, that’s correct: on Planet CityofDeKalb, some employees get to accumulate comp time for years and years.

And, yes: for management employees, the maximum payout is 60 DAYS. Read the rest of this entry

Continuing what I started yesterday:

Muni Code
Sick Leave
Sick Leave
AFSCME330 working days90 working days
FOP*117 working days90 working days
IAFF51.33 hr weekly schedule: 52 shifts
37.5 hr weekly schedule: 120 shifts
51.33 hr schedule: 45 shifts,
& equivalent for 37.5 hr schedule
Chp. 3/Management330 working days90 working days

Read the rest of this entry