DeKalb’s annual audit turns up deficiencies in physical security

Amid habitual deficiencies in internal financial controls, DeKalb’s move to a new city hall has created physical security risks, according to the city’s auditor for budget year 2020. During our observation of the City’s internal controls, we noted the initial entrance/front of the building has limited security and minimal restriction to the departments stationed in…

DeKalb might be doing some juggling with fire department budget

Below is the year-to-date expenditure report for fire operations for December 2020. Two things are startling about it. First you see that overtime expenses reached $1.1 million for the year, which exceeds the budget for o.t. by $688,000. Then see how DeKalb failed to make a final pension contribution of $708,000 on time, which was…

DeKalb’s Finance Division is a story of loss and low priority

DeKalb’s city council has so far failed to face the troubling results of its last annual audit. This has led to a failure to recognize the connections between those results and the turnover and staff reductions in Finance Division, including the loss of a full-time finance director. And the squeeze is still on for this…

City of DeKalb made the budget even harder to follow for 2021

Business Report by Christopher Hall

Let’s say you are looking at the Fire Pension Fund in the 2021 budget. You can see the annual employer’s contribution is approaching $4.3 million. Next, you decide to look at the Fire Department budget to get a feel for how much of the total FD budget is comprised of pension contributions. The Fire budget…

Charging the Water Fund for salaries in other departments is a masterpiece of nontransparency

*Note: “Departments” as used in this article should be read as shorthand for “departments, divisions, and offices.”* Take a look at this budget from DeKalb’s Finance Division: Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, it’s not. It does not show all the wages the Finance employees get paid. This is a budget that accounts only for the…

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…

Fixing the hiring spree

I’m still posting occasionally in the City Barbs Facebook group, and would like to share this item about DeKalb city council’s budget workshop Tuesday evening: Discussing elimination of positions as a budget-balancing measure. And here’s the memo.

DeKalb’s financial forecast through 2023

You need to know what that hole is, even if you can’t solve it right now. ~Larry Kujovich, Executive Partners, Inc., addressing the DeKalb city council on strategic planning (2013). Last week, DeKalb’s finance department shared an operating budget forecast through 2023 with the finance advisory committee. Having obtained a copy, I’ve created a graphic…

Regarding DeKalb Library’s other loan

Here’s an excerpt from my latest at DeKalb County Online: Thanks to recent discussion of DeKalb Public Library’s plan to pay back taxpayers for emergency help with its expansion project, much of DeKalb knows about DKPL’s $4.5 million bank loan to keep construction going during Illinois’ budget impasse. Not many know about the bank loan…

City of DeKalb does not want you to come to this meeting

Tonight is a special meeting of the DeKalb city council. Unlike all other council meetings, this meeting will not be recorded on video. That’s because the city does not know how to video-record meetings outside of council chambers, and council is not meeting in chambers tonight, even though this is the only city meeting scheduled.…