The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce wants a new annual allocation from the city.

The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce is requesting $45,000 from the city to create an event coordinator position to take over the events that Re:New DeKalb has run for years…Re:New DeKalb will undergo a fundamental shift later this year, said Frank Roberts, the president of the organization’s executive board. He said the organization will broaden its focus to include economic development in the entire city, public safety, and creating a marketing brand for DeKalb.

First of all, that’s some serious mission creep they’ve got there. Secondly, the Chamber already gets $50,0000 per year from DeKalb’s Economic Development Fund for marketing and tourism.

Speaking of the Econ Fund:

The money would come from the city’s economic development fund, which is funded by the city’s hotel/motel tax. Biernacki said the city expects to see a boost in this fund with the new Hampton Inn and Suites being built at the corner of South Annie Glidden Road and Taylor Street.

No, I’m thinking the money probably wouldn’t come from that fund. Reason(s): the Econ Fund always a) gets a transfusion from the General Fund, and/or b) runs in the red. Read the rest of this entry

ReNew DeKalb’s Annual Meeting

ReNew DeKalb’s annual meeting is set for Thursday, July 28, beginning at 5 p.m.

From the info provided at DeKalb County Online, it is unclear when the actual business meeting starts (and there seems to be nothing about it on ReNew’s own website as of this morning). Perhaps it’s the “community presentation” part?

Knowing this is important because ReNew has some obligations per its contract with the City of DeKalb.

VIII. SUBMISSION OF ANNUAL BUDGET, AUDITOR’S REPORT & MEETING MINUTES: ReNew DeKalb shall annually submit a copy of their approved annual budget and Auditor’s Report and copies of any board meeting minutes of any meeting where the use of City funding is discussed or acted upon within thirty (30) days of the approval of such documents.

ReNew DeKalb hereby certifies it shall comply with the Open Meetings Act when the use of City funding is discussed or acted upon.

ReNew DeKalb should always comply with OMA because spending city funds is the reason for its existence. OMA compliance includes:

  • Holding the meeting at a venue open to the public
  • Publishing a meeting notice and agenda in advance

  • Taking minutes of the meeting to establish a public record via submission of the minutes to the city

  • More Central TIF Expenditure Info

    In “Our View: Re:New’s [sic] work is just beginning,” the Daily Chronicle appears to be under the impression that all the downtown work done since 2008 has cost $10.8 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) dollars.

    Is this so? No. We started with land acquisition, architectural improvements, railway wayside horns, a skating rink, a pocket park and a $2 million parking lot even before that $10.8 million GO bond was issued.

    Still, let’s do some figurin’.

    Here are the total expenditures in the Central Area TIF, recapped from a previous post involving TIF annual reports.

    FY2008: $6,943,445

    FY2009: $9,104,094

    FY2010: $19,930,695

    Total: $35,978,234 Read the rest of this entry

    Revenue ProjectionActual RevenuesExpendituresShortfall
    FY06--139,137N/AN/A
    FY07170,000144,666N/AN/A
    FY08140,000163,622*N/AN/A
    FY09200,000151,351214,50052,250
    FY10150,000159,436167,0007,564
    FY11160,000149,122 (estimate)167,00014,711 (estimate)
    FY12150,000N/A167,000**17,150**

    Hotel/motel tax revenues used to go into the General Fund, but as of FY2009 were earmarked for an Economic Development Fund (Fund 46). According to the FY2012 budget,

    [t]he Economic Development Fund accounts for our agreements with outside agencies that help provide various economic development functions on behalf of the City. These agencies are paid through the Hotel/Motel revenue the City receives.

    That’s not entirely true. Read the rest of this entry

    De Nile

    ReNew DeKalb wants to give more than $1 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money to Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre.

    Who doesn’t love the Egyptian? I love P.E.T.’s director and its board because they follow the rules, and because they try to provide events for every budget.

    But we’ve given the Egyptian $592,500 since 2008. The Egyptian is starting to look like our airport in terms of handouts. And there’s still a recession on.

    I think we’d all be better off using the TIF monies for more direct help with jobs. Job training and housing rehab are both TIF-eligible expenditures.

    Says ReNew DeKalb:

    Crosswalks on Lincoln [sic]

    The thermoplastic crosswalks on Lincoln Highway are not performing per the warranty. Unfortunately this is rather unsightly, but they will be replaced by the contractor in the spring at no additional cost to the City of DeKalb.

    Sidewalk De-icing Salt

    Business and building owners are strongly encouraged to avoid using any de-icing salt that contains calcium chloride on the downtown area as it will cause prolonged periods of efflorescence (white chalkly residue on bricks). You are instead encouraged to use de-icing salt containing magnesium chloride or anything agricultural based.

    Pedestrian Pass Thru

    As a reminder, the Pedestrian Pass Thru will be closed after major snowfalls until city crews have time to remove the snow.

    Yeah, except it hasn’t been closed. There’s no sign and no barrier. It’s the scene of an accident waiting to happen, particularly after a major snowfall and during bad weather when folks are looking for a shortcut.

    Sidewalk to Nowhere

    [H/T G.M.]

    Northern Star‘s article on the impending demise of DeKalb’s synthetic skating rink:

    Because The Skate School was not at fault for the decline in patronage, Biernacki said he is sure the council will relieve the contract.

    “We pursued [the ice rink] with widespread community support,” Biernacki said. “That support did not translate into patrons.”

    Biernacki said there are many choices for the council to make in regards to the future of the ice rink. “We need to look at all of the options,” Biernacki said. “We could reprogram the rink or mothball it for a while. It’s still up in the air.”

    Oh, my. There’s a whopper packed right in the middle. Let’s pull it out and eyeball it for a min. Read the rest of this entry

    You May Raise My Taxes When…

    Is it wrong to prefer a Council meeting without Wogen and Simpson? I’ve decided there’s no immediate need to get rid of Wogen unless he starts showing up again, or if the 3rd Ward wants the mayor to appoint somebody to the spot. And Simpson can take as much time off as he likes unless the 1st puts up a fuss.

    Four hundred ninety-six days and counting

    In other news, I’ve decided it’s A-OK with me for Council to raise my taxes — as soon as the following conditions are met: Read the rest of this entry

    The Redevelopment Commission

    TIF oversight in DeKalb is a joke. Recently I asked to see several years’ worth of minutes of Joint Review Board meetings, which apparently are as perfunctory as can be since there is no substance to the minutes, much less evidence of real oversight. How could there be? They only meet once a year. Then there’s ReNew DeKalb, whose mission often seems to be to spend taxpayers’ money without the bothersome commitment to transparency* that public bodies are held to.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    The Redevelopment Commission oversees the city’s two tax increment financing districts, which collect tax revenue within their districts and use the revenue for a variety of infrastructure projects. The Redevelopment Commission meets the 2nd Thursday of each month.

    Check it out. The Redevelopment Commission has its own page on the City of Valparaiso** website, complete with links to agendas, meeting minutes and financial reports, even members’ names and contact information. Why can’t we do this? Read the rest of this entry

    Instead of the usual “Expenditures of Distinction” categories this month, we will focus on recent TIF spending. The City of DeKalb spent another $4700 out of the TIF Fund (.pdf p.52) on the Van Buer parking lot, this time for something called “FIBRCONE,” which brings the past two months’ parking lot embellishments to over $15,000 that I know of. There are two possibilities here. One is that the finishing touches on the parking lot were rolled into this year’s streetscape project. The other is simply that each little job happens to come in under the $20,000 threshold at which Council needs to approve the expenditure.

    Either way, we’ve been deprived of our say in the matter.

    The biggest bird flipped catapulted at the people, however, is the monument they are building on the sidewalk at Eduardo’s. You can really tell who ReNew’s favored business people are; Hillside gets a bit more sidewalk while Eduardo’s gets brick walls and what looks to be a large concrete fountain.

    Every dollar going to reward ReNew’s most avid supporters of downtown “pay to play” is a dollar that cannot be spent on the police station expansion.