Water is the new TIF

This is second of a series. First one is here. For years, DeKalb bailed out its general operating budget with tax increment financing (TIF) funds. TIF administrative fees helped soften the blows following the 2008 market crashes and assisted the hiring spree after that. Now the enormous “TIF 1” district is gone, replaced by the…

Defendants added to the 145 Fisk lawsuit against Nicklas and City of DeKalb

New defendants were added last week to the “145 Fisk” lawsuit against city manager Bill Nicklas and City of DeKalb that could potentially cost the city millions if it loses. John F. Pappas, Pappas Development, LLC, and PNG Development, LLC — collectively named “Pappas Entities” in the court order — were previously named as respondents…

How to “lose” TIF documents

***UPDATE 4/8/2021: After writing the original post, I decided to phone the Public Access Counselor (PAC) of the Attorney General’s Office to discuss possible Open Meetings Act implications of the incident described in it. Following the discussion, I filed a Request for Review and today I was notified that the PAC has accepted the request.…

‘There was no felonious activity’

The headline is a quote from City of DeKalb’s latest budget meeting, a joint meeting of city council with the Finance Advisory Committee held last week. Alderman Carolyn Morris asked about following up on findings from the TIF forensic assessment . The city manager and the FAC chair responded that no laws were broken, no…

TIF forensic assessment tells us how DeKalb operates

The promised forensic audit report (now being called a forensic assessment for some reason) of City of DeKalb’s tax increment financing funds has been released by the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office. The report details miscalculations, missing documents, and other failures of due diligence occurring across the 10-year period examined. Much of the fireworks over…

Prevailing wage verification is up to us

Perhaps you’ve seen the big inflatable rat downtown, or read the article published by the Daily Chronicle that explained the current union protest of John Pappas’ hiring of nonunion painters to finish the Cornerstone development project. The reporter didn’t say whether he confirmed nonunion hires, though the union seems sure. Legally there’s nothing wrong with…

DeKalb playing favorites with the bandit in the castle

Cohen Barnes owns a building in downtown DeKalb under the name “The Bandit’s Castle, LLC.” So he’s a bandit who bought a castle. Is this like the tv shows where the psychos leave little clues of their crimes? The imagination runs wild. The thing with bandits is that, by definition, they belong to gangs. This…

Going deeper on DeKalb Public Library’s expansion and promises

The main thing you need to know is that DeKalb Public Library made promises to DeKalb property taxpayers in 2015, and now is considering breaking its promises. But I couldn’t resist putting together some FAQs for anyone who might like more details. How much did the expansion cost? Total cost was $25.3 million. At center…

TIF spending for streets in FY16 did not come anywhere near what DeKalb is claiming

The setup: During the special Committee of the Whole meeting of Monday evening, DeKalb council members were discussing with staff a proposed budget reduction in 2018 for the street improvement program in our two TIF districts, specifically a staff recommendation to cut in half the usual $1 million budgeted for streets in the TIFs. During…