DeKalb’s Working Hard to Offset/Hide Increases in Personnel Expenses

During the Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, city staff will present a report showing all of the estimated annual savings they’ve achieved for the FY16 budget and beyond.

Some of these cuts — in health care plans, comp time policy, and efficiency through technology in particular — do appear to be real.

Bravo, City of DeKalb!

Now explain this:

[table id=91 /]

In the savings report (part of the CoW agenda, linked at top) City of DeKalb is claiming $782,000 in estimated annual savings in personnel expenses alone. Yet you can see that the General Fund personnel expense category is still expected to grow by almost $700,000 in the current fiscal year.

Why?

If you delve more deeply, you’ll find that not quite half of the projected savings are in health insurance, and some are attributed to anticipated reductions in payouts for compensated absences. But while these savings are admirable, the net increase of $700,000 (as shown in the current General Fund budget) demonstrates the reductions only partially offset a full $1 million in increases specific to wages and pensions.

*And that’s not all. They also peeled some $500,000 out of the General Fund personnel category this year (again, primarily allocated to wages and pensions) to place in the Water Fund for the Water Division to pay. You can see the jump in Water expenses reflected below.

[table id=92 /]

So, assuming projections are accurate, the actual net increase in personnel expenses in General Fund plus Water Fund will be about $1.5 million, and will have been more but for cuts they’ve made in hopes of winning approval to hire a new human resources director.

To summarize: City of DeKalb had to create savings of $782,000 and move $500,000 in expenses to the Water Fund in order to help whittle down and hide expense growth that originally looked to be a rise of up to $2 million and will probably still be $1.5 million across two funds. In one budget expense category. For one budget year.

And while we’re at it let’s emphasize that all personnel expense types are not equal; wages and pensions are DeKalb’s largest and fastest-growing and most increases are contractually binding. That’s why the street maintenance program got whacked, and the sacrifice of other capital needs will follow if we remain on this track.

It’s the hiring spree.

Any questions?