Better late than never? Here are a few comments on the City of DeKalb meetings Monday night.
When I switched on the Committee of the Whole meeting (admittedly not right at the beginning) there was an immediate feeling of disorientation. The mayor was complaining about a constituent taking up too much of his time. It came across as a group therapy situation, specifically some sort of assertiveness training session for our unhappy figurehead.
Within this context, Alderman Gallagher named a civicly-participating resident. If the result is a slander suit, I guess I’m a witness!
Next for discussion was charging parking fees for Corn Fest. Here’s what the agenda says:
2) CONSIDERATION OF CORNFEST PARKING FEES.
The City of DeKalb has negotiated with the Big Brothers / Big Sisters of DeKalb to enter into an agreement to provide labor for the collection of funds at the CornFest summer festival at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. Per the direction of City Council, staff has been investigating ways to recoup some of the costs expended for the support of the CornFest event.
LAST year it was about recouping staff overtime for security and cleanup. THIS year, it’s about not getting into trouble with the FAA. Read the rest of this entry
In today’s “Our view: Give DeKalb staff its raises,” the Daily Chronicle argues on behalf of cost-of-living adjustments for management staff. Let’s respond to the reasoning for its vigorous advocacy on behalf of Biernacki & Co. Read the rest of this entry
[Correction 7/5: Whoops! The link provided goes to Aurora, CO, not to Aurora, IL, which is IAFF Local 99. Many thanks to the reader who let me know.]
Check out p. 60 of the DeKalb firefighters’ contract with the city. It’s the appendix showing the base pay agreement for the latter half of 2010, the one labeled “4% General Increases For All Classifications”.
Step A to Step B is not part of the 4% “general” increase. For example:
Firefighter/Paramedic Step A annual salary: $54,682.78
Firefighter/Paramedic Step B annual salary: $67,332.91
This is an increase of more than 23%.
In a related development, I’m creating my own chart of firefighter/paramedic base pay salary comparisons, but have gotten stuck on Aurora, which has a breakdown into several more firefighter pay grades than other municipalities do. If a knowledgeable someone could take a gander at p. 18 and let me know which one fits best, I’d be grateful. Contact email@example.com.
An arbitrator awarded a 6% pay raise to Rockford firefighters.
City officials said the award will cost taxpayers an estimated $618,000 in 2011 and more than $1.2 million in 2012 when the 6.1 percent wage is in effect for a full year.
Arbitrator Robert Perkovich rejected the city’s offer of a 2 percent wage increase this year. [IAFF Local 413 president Lt. Brad] Walker called the salary hike overdue.
“There were no raises in ’09 and ’10,” he said. “We went 26 months without a general wage increase.”
Walker said the wage hike keeps the city’s firefighters in the same ballpark as other Illinois fire departments of similar size.
“We were just trying to stay close to our comparable cities,” Walker said of Aurora, Bloomington, Champaign, DeKalb, Joliet, Peoria and Springfield.
Rockford already faces a deficit of $4 million in the coming year. At least one alderman is calling for outsourcing ambulance services in response to the crisis.
Alderman Teresinski cautions us every year that we need to address DeKalb’s “structural” budget issues. Here’s one.
|FY2009 Actual||FY2010 Actual||FY2011 Estimate||FY2012 Budget
|Total regular compensation||13,702,000||14,063,022||13,625,025||12,929,500
|Total personnel expenses||23,516,974||24,538,651||24,388,750||24,322,868
|All General Fund expenditures||28,193,091||28,629,574||27,403,488||29,357,321
Do you remember how many employees DeKalb got rid of last year? If memory serves, it was 34 full-timers, for a savings somewhere between $3-4 million. But from the budget figures, you can’t tell they’re gone. How scary is that?
Source: FY2012 draft budget, p. 30.
p.s. Because the city is currently negotiating with the unions, the FY2012 budget only includes pay adjustments for management employees.
One of the things I’ve been meaning to ask about the FY2012 budget, but simply did not get around to, is about the total in staff pay raises included in the budget.
We supposedly MUST raise taxes to build a police station. What if we extended the pay freeze a couple more years, as we see in the real world? Would we need to raise taxes for the police station in that case?
Or, as an alert reader has posed it to me today: Is the proposed tax hike really about giving raises?
I have posed the question to council members via e-mail and hope someone will ask it.
The City of DeKalb claimed that the hiring of Laura Pisarcik fulfilled recommendations made by Executive Partners, Inc. (EPI). This is what the EPI report recommended:
DeKalb would benefit from a proactive centralized procurement program. [p. 19 of Benchmarking section]
Definition of procurement, from Wikipedia:
Procurement is the acquisition of goods and/or services. It is favorable that the goods/services are appropriate and that they are procured at the best possible cost to meet the needs of the purchaser in terms of quality and quantity, time, and location. Corporations and public bodies often define processes intended to promote fair and open competition for their business while minimizing exposure to fraud and collusion.
This is what we got:
[The Finance Director] [a]dvises the City Manager on the availability of revenues and the allocation of expenditures within those revenues; assists the City Manager in preparing a balanced budget for recommendation to the City Council; and, manages the City’s accounting, treasury, receivables, payables, parking, payroll, reception, and utility billing functions. The division’s goal is to provide the citizens of DeKalb with a comprehensive and uniform financial management system that conforms with financial standards set forth by such organizations as the Government Finance Officer’s Association and the Government Accounting Standards Board.
Laura Pisarcik, then, is no procurement person but just another assistant city manager. We’ve been had. Read the rest of this entry
Received this morning: this link to the Belleville News series of investigative reports on state employee’s Workers’ Compensation claims. The latest, published April 20, details the paper’s attempts to obtain information regarding successful claims.
Recent and upcoming opinions delivered by the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor that pertain to Workers’ Comp-related Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests may have implications for our own efforts to understand Worker’s Comp in DeKalb better.
Meanwhile, here is a copy of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (big PDF file!).
You may recall that DeKalb would like to join the Municipal Insurance Cooperative Agency (MICA) instead of continuing to self-fund its liability “insurance,” but MICA calculated the premium at $1.1 million per year up front and we can’t seem to find the money. The premium was based in part on a five-year average of actual annual liability losses including Workers’ Comp, FY05-09.
There’s been a lot of talk about Workers Compensation and state workers, so I finally got around to asking for some payment records from the City of DeKalb’s Workers Comp Fund (and as soon as I did, an incumbent candidate for alderman suddenly made an issue of it).
Bottom line: Since January 1, 2005, DeKalb has paid out $2.7 million to more than 50 employees. Read the rest of this entry