The DeKalb Public Library closed yesterday on its purchase of land for expansion from Castle Bank, trustee under Trust Agreement #2222 and the sole beneficiary of the land trust, developer Steve Irving. The purchase price is $1,450,000 plus $25,000 for each month/part of month beyond the original target closing date of October 1, 2011, according to the purchase agreement.

If you’d like a copy of the agreement, e-mail me. It’s a 30-page PDF.

Library ShelvesPeople are starting to ask me why I’m against the DeKalb Public Library expansion.

I’m not against AN expansion of DPL. I’m against THIS expansion because I disapprove of secrecy, corrupted processes and the lack of proper public participation. I’m against letting the current library board, a group of proven lawbreakers, run the show.

Pick anything under the DeKalb Public Library tag at this blog for details, and check out DeKalb County Online for Mac’s view of the latest developments. This is about making sure government follows the rules, and creating a fuss when it’s not. Period. It always has been. Read the rest of this entry

It was a toss-up whether to focus on DeKalb Public Library’s ongoing coyness about its expansion plans, or the role of local media in covering for it. How about a bit of both.

Today’s WTF moment is brought to you by the Daily Chronicle in “DeKalb officials expand on library land process, say everything appears kosher”.

City attorney Dean Frieders said the city council does not have to give its approval for the land purchase because it would be funded with “relatively short-term financing,” in the form of a bequest, rather than a tax increase, a mortgage or a municipal bond to purchase the land.

And, ahem, TIF money.

Here’s the comment I left on the story.

The development agreement may give the council a “say,” but according to library law the council does more than that — council makes the call. At any rate, why are we listening to the same city officials who flip-flop about whether council has the authority to set the library’s levy (it does), and who refuse to insist the library make its annual report to council using the same detailed report it sends to the state? Perhaps it is time for our state’s attorney to step in, at least to ask for an opinion from the Illinois Attorney General.

The alternative is to go to court. Read the rest of this entry

Traffic Studies

A new police station on Route 38 is in the works, and a proposed expansion of the DeKalb Public Library would involve closing a portion of North Third Street.

Clearly, each of these projects/proposals if built would impact traffic patterns at their respective locations.

Mac McIntyre brought up the need for a traffic study at the police station site a few months ago so I’ve been doing some research into the requirements as time allows.

Communications with the state Department of Transportation have convinced me that it would likely not be possible for the City of DeKalb to obtain a permit for the police station construction without a traffic study. Indeed, ComEd will have to obtain a permit to dig a hole for a pole before it begins utility work at the site.

Additionally, I just found out that the city approved “administratively” a traffic study, now in progress, for the police station site.

All’s well then, right? NO. My reading of the Municipal Code does not allow for an “administrative” decision on traffic studies. The procedure is for the director of Public Works to make a recommendation and for the city council to vote on the recommendation.

I’ve put the applicable section of Chapter 23, Article 7 after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

This table was part of Friday’s long post, but deserves some attention of its own.

Per Capita
Debt, City
of DeKalb
Per Capita
Debt,
Overlapping
Total Per
Capita Debt,
City of DeKalb
Residents
FY2004467.10608.751075.85
FY2005519.82623.711143.53
FY2006505.96617.671123.63
FY2007470.28697.111167.39
FY2008578.461004.141582.60
FY2009521.54889.791411.33
FY2010564.311428.291992.60

You can find the breakdown of the FY2010 overlapping debt in this document, on p. 153.

FY2010 ended June 30, 2010. Let’s look at some of the GO bond issues since that date:

DeKalb County: $16,000,000, 10/14/2010

School District 428: $38,001,359.50, 8/4/2010

City of DeKalb: $9,320,000, 12/01/2010

City of DeKalb: $550,000, 10/5/2010 Read the rest of this entry

Galesburg, November 2010:

The Galesburg Public Library voted Thursday night to slash $20,000 from its earlier budget request in an effort to gain the City Council’s support in raising the library’s property tax levy.
[...]
Relations between the city and the library have been increasingly strained due to disagreements on whether to increase the property tax levy in the face of sharp budget shortfalls. The City Council is expected to vote Nov. 15 on the city’s property tax levy, which includes the library’s levy.
[...]
For years, the City Council has been opposed to levy increases. Last year, the city rejected the library’s levy request, forcing library officials to make several cutbacks. As part of its efforts to reduce costs last year, the library closed on Sundays and reduced its budget by $93,000.

Galesburg joins Naperville as another recent example of a city council exerting control over public library levy requests.

Last November, DeKalb’s city attorney said the city had no such authority, though even DeKalb has reduced the DeKalb Public Library’s tax levy in the past.

DeKalb Public Library at It Again

Library ShelvesLet’s review, shall we?

A library DISTRICT is an independent taxing body with an elected board.

Though it is attempting to function as one, DeKalb Public Library is NOT a library district. It is a public library and a component unit of the City of DeKalb. The mayor of DeKalb appoints the board members with the advice and consent of the council. It is the city council that approves DKPL’s annual budget, tax levy, and building expansion plans.

Council could also approve the issuance of bonds for a building expansion without having to pass a referendum, so it’s likely DKPL has zero interest in becoming a district. Therefore the city, being stuck with a rogue board, must address the problem. There are at least two approaches: the mayor could dissolve the board and start over, or the city could use its bonding power as leverage to get DKPL back in line.

Last time our city council tried to put the reins on DKPL’s tax levy, the city attorney said it did not have the authority to do so. That was pretty funny, because the council has done so in the past. Also, back in January the city council of Naperville asked its public library to make $300,000 in budget cuts. It is clear that Illinois cities have authority and responsibilities of oversight of their public library boards.

Today’s report in the Daily Chronicle that DKPL is also refusing to say where the money is coming from for its latest efforts at land purchases is especially troubling. A buildup of reserves for undeclared purposes is a slush fund, and has no place in the business of the public.

An alert longtime CB reader took the time to send a link to a Daily Herald story about Naperville’s public library today:

The library’s levy request of $12,450,000 for fiscal year 2012 was 3.15 percent, or $400,000 more than the previous year, but city council members asked the board to find and consider as much as $300,000 in additional abatements.
[...]
The library board is then set to present the proposal to the city council on Jan. 26. Staff will now work toward determining the specific line items in each budget to cut before the presentation.
[...]
Once the board makes its presentation to the city council, the council is expected to review the proposal before deciding how much of the library’s levy to abate in March.

Does this mean assertions that the DeKalb City Council cannot set the DeKalb Public Library’s levy are hogwash? Yeah, it probably does mean that.

Library Finally Shows Up

DeKalb Public Library (DKPL) showed up for a dog-and-pony show at City Council last night, armed with packets of information that, once again, escaped being received and filed publicly by Council. The only conceivable reason for such a presentation is to rewrite the narrative of its dealings of the past three years into the meeting minutes, actively assisted by city staff and unchallenged by a negligent, collaborative legislature.

Still, there were educational moments. How else would we find out that an end-of-year fund balance of $1.2 million equals zero? That DKPL is actually quite poor in spite of its only recently abandoned plan to purchase $2 million in real estate?

At least Director Coover treated Council more like adults this time by including an actual Illinois Public Library Annual Report (IPLAR) in each packet. Perhaps someone will think to ask about the omissions in Section 26, which we will look at over the jump. Read the rest of this entry

IPLARs FY2008-10

After the jump, see the table containing selected information extracted from three years’ worth of Illinois Public Library Annual Reports (IPLARs) filed by the DeKalb Public Library with the Illinois State Library. Included: information on revenues, expenditures, programs, attendance, resources/holdings and other numbers and answers I found interesting for one reason or another. Not included: library identification data, personnel position details, library trustee information and items deemed redundant or ho-hum.

Also:

–If a FY column item is left blank, it means the question was not asked that year.

–Answers that might vary from one day or month to another, for example the number of registered borrowers, are generally required to reflect the count on the last day of the fiscal year.

–Copies of the source material are yours for the asking. Send e-mail requests to yinn@citybarbs.com. Read the rest of this entry