Land Swap is No Mystery: Here Comes TIF

A few days ago I was having an email conversation with a friend, who asked me what I thought of the school district’s proposed land swap deal that would put developer Shodeen next to Huntley Middle School. Here is how I responded, in part:

At this point I am suspicious that a South Fourth TIF plan might still be in the works. Probably both the school district and Shodeen would love to be in a TIF.

And in today’s paper, I see this.

At Monday’s meeting, City Manager Mark Biernacki said the DeKalb City Council will be presented with a report by the end of 2012 on whether certain areas of the city should be designated as tax increment financing districts.

The goal of the districts is to encourage redevelopment in blighted areas, and Biernacki identified three possible district locations. Those are along South Fourth Street, past Taylor Street toward Huntley Middle School; the apartments in and around Greek Row; and parts of Sycamore Road near Hopkins Park.

So there it is, folks. Your fair city and your even fairer school district have this new TIF thing worked out already.

New Per Capita Debt Numbers

[Update 8:30 a.m.: Table headers edited for clarity.]

You’ve seen most of this table before. I’ve updated it with FY2011 data from the new Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

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Most of the overlapping increase came from DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.

Mind you, these figures reflect only gross bonded debt. The total per capita city debt burden for DeKalb residents, for example, was $929.28 as of June 30, 2011.

Gross bonded debt gets special attention because repayment is guaranteed by property taxes. If a governmental unit does not have enough money to make the payments, property taxes get raised as required to meet them.

DeKalb is unusual, Continue reading New Per Capita Debt Numbers

What I’m Reading

Daily Chronicle: “Briscoe: Here’s Budget 101 for District 428”

The Stephenson Blumdoggle: “The State of Stephenson County: Delusional and Propagandized” (which is also about a budget. I recommend reading a bit further as well, at least to “A Justified Default on $5.5 million”).

Capitol “Joe Walsh Tells Candidate He’s Running in Another District”

Pro Publica: “Why a Federal Judge Trashed the SEC’s Settlement with Citigroup”

Bloomberg “Secret Fed Loans Gave Banks $13 Billion Undisclosed to Congress”

The New York Times: “Crisis in Europe Tightens Credit Across the Globe”

Sampling of Electric Bills, Old DHS and New

This is a comparison of two months’ worth of electric bills for the old DeKalb High School on South Fourth Street, which is now Huntley Middle School, and the new DHS on Dresser Road.

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No, the figures for the June charges and balance due for the new DHS were not accidentally transposed! There were significant downward adjustments made on that bill.

That is one reason why I am making no claims about the bill charges being particularly representative. Also, both schools were probably atypically open a lot due to the big move and construction/remodeling work. These figures just give you a ballpark idea of the new operating expenses we’ve taken on, no more.

The DHS charges were actually a bit lower than I expected. It’s the amount in unpaid balances that is startling. The only electric bills kept paid up were charges of about $50 per month billed to “DeKalb Booster Club” at the old DHS. Also, there was $338 charged for this period in late fees.

Natural gas service charges, not included here, ran no higher than a few hundred per month but again, District 428 has not been paying these bills in full.

A Closer Look at DeKalb Per Capita Debt

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

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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 Continue reading A Closer Look at DeKalb Per Capita Debt

Town Hall Next Week at Conexion Comunidad

Third Ward Alderman Kristen Lash will hold a town hall meeting next Wednesday, August 31.

So far, participants are:

Kristen Lash, 3rd Ward Alderman
Jim Luebke, DeKalb Township Trustee
Paul Stoddard, County Board, District 9
Julia Fauci, County Board, District 9

Alderman Lash hopes also to include a representative of the District 428 school board.

The town hall will begin with each official giving a brief update of the happenings at his/her unit of government. A public question-and-comment period follows, during which audience members may address an individual or the entire panel.

Conexion Comunidad is at 637 N. 11th Street. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Error Correction: FY2011 TIF Surplus

In “City & School District TIF Surplus Budget Surplus Budget Estimates”, I put up a chart showing a City of DeKalb TIF 1 surplus for FY2011 (to be budgeted for FY2012) of $221,000. While this part is correct, I somehow at the time failed to understand that this was only the amount of the surplus that was going to be distributed by the County Collector; in other words, the property tax portion. DeKalb also expects (at least, as of October 2010) to give itself $569,500 in sales tax surplus for the year as well.

In other words, a budget estimate of $750,000 in TIF 1 surplus is perfectly legitimate. I am sorry for both the error and the conclusions drawn from it.

The discovery of my mistake came out of requesting of the City of DeKalb the original September 2010 surplus letter (as opposed to the October 2010 letter previously received from District 428) and marinating on it awhile. I will put up that document at some point, hopefully today, but did want to get the word out ASAP for those following budget matters at CB.

City & School District TIF Surplus Budget Estimates

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The school district is allocating its share for debt service, while the City of DeKalb’s will be dropped into the General Fund.

One might ask why the city has projected $670,000 for FY2012 since the October estimates came in $528,200 under its preliminary estimates. At least two factors must be at play: the rise in city property tax from .60 to .65, and a rosy projection of 11.67% growth in sales taxes even though the reason for the October surplus estimate adjustments were made in response to a state notification that the sales tax portion would be reduced 22% due to a general drop in sales taxes.

Might make one wonder about other possible rainbows and unicorns in this budget draft.


District 428’s FY10-11 budget, p. 6

City of DeKalb’s adopted FY2011 budget, pp. 22-24

City of DeKalb’s FY2012 draft budget proposal, pp. 22-24

City Barbs, “FY2011 TIF Surplus,” Distribution Reconciliation chart and letter from the city

FY2011 TIF Surplus

Per an intergovernmental agreement, the City of DeKalb promised to declare a 50% surplus of the Central Area TIF (aka TIF 1) increment for each of the 12 years of the extended and amended TIF district. The surplus will be paid to all taxing bodies in the same proportions as the regular property taxes are, and includes a distribution of city sales taxes as well. The following documents are October 2010 estimates of the FY2011 end-of-year surplus and distribution totals. They were obtained from the school district along with a letter from the city explaining adjustments and procedures. Continue reading FY2011 TIF Surplus

TIF & Schools

The Daily Register has reprinted a recent article by the AP’s Zachary Colman.

LA SALLE, Ill. (AP) — One of the most popular rooms at LaSalle’s Dimmick Elementary School is the library-turned-computer-lab-turned-classroom. Children jostle for elbow room and can’t use the library at all when class is in session.

Down the hall, the school counselor and speech pathologist share an office that used to be a janitor’s closet. The gymnasium serves as storage space for school files and records.

Supt. Ryan Linnig blames the tight quarters at least partly on an economic development tool that shifts local tax money to developers. He estimates Dimmick has lost out on more than $405,000 since 1994 — $75,000 of it last year— through a state-created program for local communities called tax increment financing, or TIF.

Continue reading TIF & Schools