Park District & TIF

Here are facts obtained recently from the DeKalb Park District about its agreements with the City of DeKalb:

  • Once upon a time, the Park District would submit requests to the City for reimbursements of Tax Increment Financing (TIF)-eligible expenses incurred on a project-by-project basis. The projects had to occur within TIF districts and there was no guarantee of reimbursement.
    Continue reading Park District & TIF

  • Local History, Art, and Stories Sneak Peek

    The Lincoln Highway Association will hold its annual conference in Dixon this June. At some point, there will be a public call for artists, photographers, storytellers, historians, and anyone else interested to participate in an artists’ reception and/or to write their recollections of the Lincoln Highway in Illinois for a booklet. You heard it here first.

    Now you all know why I have an eye on Dixon’s petunias. Mayor Jim Burke even has petunias on his business cards.

    By the way, it looks like the folks in Dixon know how to plug business development, and keep their citizens educated in TIF.

    Got Marigolds?

    A couple of years ago I suggested that S. 4th would look better if the community could borrow an idea from Dixon and plant flowers in those narrow parkways. Dixon’s community becomes involved in planting the petunias in the parkways, they have a Petunia Festival with a parade, and there is now a petunia wine. People do not have to mow those parkways although volunteers need to go back here and there during the summer to weed. Dixon looks great and it is a very low-cost effort to improve the appearance of the city, especially compared to TIF.

    Now I think I have the perfect flower that would work–marigolds matching DeKalb Barbs orange. Continue reading Got Marigolds?

    The Redevelopment Commission

    TIF oversight in DeKalb is a joke. Recently I asked to see several years’ worth of minutes of Joint Review Board meetings, which apparently are as perfunctory as can be since there is no substance to the minutes, much less evidence of real oversight. How could there be? They only meet once a year. Then there’s ReNew DeKalb, whose mission often seems to be to spend taxpayers’ money without the bothersome commitment to transparency* that public bodies are held to.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    The Redevelopment Commission oversees the city’s two tax increment financing districts, which collect tax revenue within their districts and use the revenue for a variety of infrastructure projects. The Redevelopment Commission meets the 2nd Thursday of each month.

    Check it out. The Redevelopment Commission has its own page on the City of Valparaiso** website, complete with links to agendas, meeting minutes and financial reports, even members’ names and contact information. Why can’t we do this? Continue reading The Redevelopment Commission

    Expenditures of Distinction: ReNewing Eduardo’s

    Instead of the usual “Expenditures of Distinction” categories this month, we will focus on recent TIF spending. The City of DeKalb spent another $4700 out of the TIF Fund (.pdf p.52) on the Van Buer parking lot, this time for something called “FIBRCONE,” which brings the past two months’ parking lot embellishments to over $15,000 that I know of. There are two possibilities here. One is that the finishing touches on the parking lot were rolled into this year’s streetscape project. The other is simply that each little job happens to come in under the $20,000 threshold at which Council needs to approve the expenditure.

    Either way, we’ve been deprived of our say in the matter.

    The biggest bird flipped catapulted at the people, however, is the monument they are building on the sidewalk at Eduardo’s. You can really tell who ReNew’s favored business people are; Hillside gets a bit more sidewalk while Eduardo’s gets brick walls and what looks to be a large concrete fountain.

    Every dollar going to reward ReNew’s most avid supporters of downtown “pay to play” is a dollar that cannot be spent on the police station expansion.

    P.E.T. Does It. Why Won’t ReNew?

    Last week I submitted a FOIA request to the City of DeKalb to review meeting minutes from the Preservation of the Egyptian Theater (P.E.T.) organization. Today I stopped by the Municipal Building to pick up two years’ worth, which translated to minutes of 17 meetings. Such accessibility is made possible by a provision of P.E.T.’s contract with the City of DeKalb (p. 242):

    F. SUBMISSION OF ANNUAL BUDGET, AUDITOR’S REPORT & MEETING MINUTES: P.E.T. shall submit a copy of their most recent annual budget, Auditor’s Report, and copies of any board meeting minutes of any meeting where the receipt or use of City funding is discussed or acted upon, within thirty days of the approval of such documents.

    P.E.T. hereby certifies it shall comply with the Open Meetings Act when the receipt or use of City funding is discussed or acted upon.

    You may recall that I also submitted a FOIA request for ReNew DeKalb meeting minutes from the past two years because ReNew has the same clause in its contract with the City, and when doesn’t ReNew talk about use of City money? –but, even after an appeal, they are not forthcoming.

    Some follow the rules while others flout them.

    Thanks, P.E.T., for choosing the former.