Snapshot of DeKalb’s pension trends through 2020

The chart below tracks the unfunded liabilities of DeKalb’s Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF), police (PD), and fire (FD) pensions. We expect total pension liabilities will go up with raises, cost of living adjustments, etc. However, the unfunded portions of the liabilities should not. Actuarially determined annual pension contributions are supposed to ensure they don’t…

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…

DeKalb’s finance advisory committee may be treated with more respect this year

Have you ever heard of the sheep-and-collie routine? It’s when one or more collies nip at the heels of a flock of sheep, to force them toward a destination the sheep really don’t want to go. Sheep-and-collie applies to both human and animal activity, and in both cases it’s a fact that the “collie” does…

A fresh look at “old” financial advice for DeKalb

At a recent budget meeting, DeKalb city manager Anne Marie Gaura (AMG) stated that she references the “EPI reports” frequently in financial planning. Because the city’s finance advisory committee might likewise like to revisit EPI findings when it (the committee) reconvenes in 2018, I’d like to introduce EPI to our newer readers (and help refresh…

DeKalb’s growth in personnel expenses

There’s another special city council meeting, specifically a budget meeting, set for this evening. It’s apparently a follow-up of what they discussed last week. On Thursday, the council held a joint meeting with the finance advisory committee to outline a proposed 5 percent reduction in city department budgets for fiscal 2018. This equates to nine…

Anatomy of DeKalb’s proposals for a sales tax hike

That’s not a typo in the headline. There are, I believe, two proposals for a sales tax hike of one cent for fiscal 2018. One comes from DeKalb city administrators, the other from the city’s finance advisory committee (FAC). Here’s the proposal staff put into the draft budget: Sales tax for hiring police officers? Sales…

DeKalb may raise taxes, but the structural budget issue remains

DeKalb’s Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) will be recommending that the city council raise the property tax levy by $954,000, and its local (home rule) sales tax by one cent, in the fiscal year starting January 2018. The property tax recommendation was approved by the FAC in early October, and the sales tax during a meeting…

DeKalb’s Shortage of Magic Rabbits

As the city ponders a property tax hike of 37% as well as water rate and fee “adjustments,” you may wonder how DeKalb has got itself mired in financial straits. It’s actually nothing new. DeKalb’s budget issues are — and have been since at least 2005 — the result of snatching nearly every penny of…

Numbers to Consider During the Budget Process

The data for the following charts come from Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). In view of DeKalb staff’s continually stated desire to hire, I’ve begun with a look at the numbers of full-time equivalent employees. The city is using a figure of 220 city employees during its budget process instead of the most recently available…

Half of DeKalb is Doing Well Enough to Compare to Others

The agenda for last night’s joint meeting between DeKalb city council members and the city’s Finance (sic) Advisory Committee included a list of 14 communities besides DeKalb and their “comparable economic data.” The argument seems to be that DeKalb taxpayers can afford to pay more in property taxes than the “bargain” they are currently getting…