Special Meeting on Muni/Police Building & Financing

A special meeting Monday of the DeKalb City Council and the Financial Advisory Committee is set to examine two Municipal Building remodeling/building options with emphases on police station space needs and improved access for people with disabilities.

The Good
One of the options presented includes a proposal to sell off city property worth $2.2 million to help finance a renovation and addition.

The Bad
We don’t know where the rest of the money will come from. Perhaps some bucks have been “freed up” by the debt restructuring. After paying some employees twice for not working and having the General Fund balance dip to $22,000 recently, it’s uncertain whether they can make a solid case for it, though. Continue reading Special Meeting on Muni/Police Building & Financing

Comments on Wednesday’s Aldermanic Forum

Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor seems very proud that the FY2011 budget is down $700,000 from FY2007.

I went through those budgets and counted more than 40 positions eliminated since FY2008 — but, assuming a little hiring has been done this past fiscal year, let’s say we’re down about three dozen.

There’s been virtually nothing spent on equipment, in fact personnel account for 89% of expenditures now, according to the FY2011 budget. And with the recent exception of fuel costs, commodities have been pretty stable for a couple years.

So: $700,000 is pretty measly in this context. Why hasn’t the budget been whittled down several million? Continue reading Comments on Wednesday’s Aldermanic Forum

Housing Task Force?

The Daily Chronicle reports on the mayor’s formation of a housing task force:

The Task Force for Safe and Quality Housing will ensure that housing units in the area are up to code and safe to occupy, Povlsen said. It is important that the city make public safety a high priority, he said during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

It’s sad we need this, having a paid code enforcement crew. I’m wondering if it’s a back door attempt at reintroducing the unconstitutional yet temptingly dollar-riffic Rental Inspection Program.

The plan is also inconsistent with other stated objectives. We were told a few months ago that several committees and commissions were to be eliminated or consolidated as a means to save money. How is that project coming?

Lastly, it’s breathtakingly hypocritical for the city to talk about public safety as a top priority as long as the Council continues to smear lipstick on the downtown despite likely first responder layoffs come January, and tolerates the riven strands in the local social safety net.

TN Homeowner Fails to Pay $75 Fee, so Firefighters Watch His House Burn

Firefighters watch as home burns to the ground: If you live on unincorporated land near South Fulton, Tennessee, and don’t pay a $75 per year fee to the city for fire protection, the firefighters are not allowed to save your burning house.

What a terrible policy. Because of it, a neighboring house also caught fire. To me, that’s a clear-cut case of reckless negligence on the part of the city. If someone dies it’s on them, too. Just goes to show we’re not the only municipality lacking competent legal counsel, common sense and empathy.

Bell to Refund Property Taxes It Overcharged

The State of California is forcing the city government of Bell, a non-prosperous suburb of Los Angeles whose administrators were among the most highly paid in the country, to refund $3 million in property taxes the municipality overcharged. About 4,000 property owners will be reimbursed under the plan.

Bell is not the only California city with such problems, only the latest. It joins its neighbors Vernon, Maywood and at least four other communities in the region that have come under investigation by county and state authorities. Continue reading Bell to Refund Property Taxes It Overcharged

Time to Look at Bell

Home to 37,000 people, Bell, California is one of the least prosperous suburbs of Los Angeles at a per capita income of about $24,000, yet its residents pay the second-highest property tax rate in Los Angeles County — even higher than that of Beverly Hills.

The taxes have gone to pay some of the highest public sector compensation in the nation, including $787,000 to its city manager and up to $100,000 each for city council members. In comparison, the salary of the CEO of Los Angeles County is $338,000. Bell officials have boasted of balanced budgets but records show compensation for its management employees has continued to rise even in the face of layoffs and other cuts to public safety and community services programs. Continue reading Time to Look at Bell

City Layoffs

Here is a comment that popped up in another post this afternoon:

Well as of today start to look for your own way of provideing some city services. Twenty employees got laidoff today, and 10 others were taking the early retirment package, and reportly 2 got terminated. So what does this mean no one left to do the blue collar work.

At this moment the Daily Chronicle states that a news release with the specifics is expected about 4 p.m. It is 3:40 as I type this.

The budget hasn’t been finalized yet, but some contracts — AFSCME comes to mind — require prior notice for layoffs, in case the unions can come up with an alternative plan in the interim.

Franklin Park’s Budget Blues

Thanks to the person who sent a link to IAFF Local 1526 representing the Franklin Park firefighters. It’s always an education to find out how other communities are coping in these times. Franklin Park is a village of 19,500 situated near O’Hare. It is contemplating laying off 6 firefighters and 7 police officers as part of a strategy to balance its budget. A rally to protest such a move is planned for January 23 and Village Mayor Barrett Pedersen is a particular target because of campaign promises he made last year to protect union jobs and to resist the formation of a regional fire department.

Indeed: in a statement on the Mayor’s page of the Village website, Mayor Pedersen thanks the voters and lays out his priorities:

Public safety is our first priority. Our upcoming budget will include funding to improve our public safety departments and provide an increased police presence in our neighborhoods.

Whoa! What’s happening here? Well, for one thing, neither police nor fire departments have contracts right now so they’re on the table. Also, it’s possible the mayor’s been whacked with a reality stick since the election: Continue reading Franklin Park’s Budget Blues