The Vehicle Maintenance & Acquisition Fund That Isn’t

In “Council in the Twilight Zone,” I lauded 7th Ward Alderman Monica O’Leary for questioning this part of the July 11 meeting agenda:

The Police Department was awarded a Grant through the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority Board (ICJIA) to purchase a replacement for the Police Shift Command Vehicle. The award amount is $20,000 and the city is required to provide the remaining funds. The Police Departments portion will be taken from the Vehicle Maintenance and Acquisition Fund.

Ms. O’Leary said she couldn’t find this fund in the budget, and with good reason: It doesn’t exist.

There’s a Q&A about the fund/vehicle funding after the jump.

The city manager and one or two folks in the Finance Division provided the answers.

Q: What was the date that the City of DeKalb ‘s Vehicle Maintenance & Acquisition Fund (as referred to in last night’s agenda) was established?

A: The Fleet Replacement Fund was established in 2011.

Q: I understand from the questioning last night that the money for this fund has been stored in the General Fund? If so, under which line item has the money in this fund been accounted for in the annual budgets?

A: The Money was coded to the General Fund refunds/reimbursements which was to offset the Vehicle Maintenance for police Vehicles. In FY 2012 the monies are being allocated to the Fleet Replacement Fund to help purchase police vehicles.

As quoted from the state statute “ law enforcement agency that employed the arresting officer and shall be used for the acquisition or maintenance of police vehicles) [sic]. No separate fund is required, only to have to make sure the expenditure exceeds the Revenue. In 2011 expenditures were $25,876, and revenues were $16,452.

Note: Refunds/Reimbursements is Line Item #3910 in the General Fund budget.

Q: Can you explain the mechanism of the funding? For example, does the fine revenue in question get sent to Springfield and come back, or is all the accounting done locally due to Home Rule?

A: The funding comes from court supervision (for example a speeding ticket), and is actually determined by the Judge. The Judge can allocate any dollar amount, it is not set by anyone else. The Revenue does not go to Springfield, it is handled by DeKalb County Clerk’s office, and this amount varies month to month that the City receives.

The city is claiming that a separate fund is not necessary. Yet, a separate Fleet Replacement Fund has just been established. Also, the city manager chose to use the fictitious name “Vehicle Maintenance and Acquisition Fund” to put in his memo accompanying the meeting agenda.

I’ll be looking for a superb rendering in the meeting minutes of the can Alderman O’Leary has opened.