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 the course of this discussion, Alderman David Jacobson asked whether the money budgeted in the TIFs for previous years actually got spent. Here’s the actual transcripted exchange:

Jacobson: One other question, only because it was something that was brought up this afternoon to me. I know there was a question last year about– I think it was in the 16-and-a-half budget, if I’m correct, that the council asked for a million-dollar budget in the TIFs for road expenditures, and there was some question as to whether or not that was ever spent?

Public Works Director Tim Holdeman: Absolutely, that was spent. That was in our road program for this year; we have completed that street maintenance, both in TIF 1 and TIF 2 districts. I don’t have the final numbers, but it’s very close to a million dollars. It bid out at about $990,000. So with the engineering, we were right at– we were a little bit above a million, but we could supplement that with Fund 50, so…[crosstalk]

Jacobson: And was that the same in ’16 as well?

Holdeman: For ’16?

Jacobson: The full million for ’16?

Holdeman: Yes, that was the same for fiscal year ’16, yes.

Holdeman’s comments make it sound like the city spent $1 million out of the TIF funds in FY16, another $1 million in FY17, and maybe something in between, during that six-month budget period they call FY16.5. But these claims are not demonstrably true at this point. The FY16 audited numbers are available, and as I reported earlier this year,* the TIF reports filed with the Illinois Comptroller show that not quite $115,000 was spent in the TIF districts on street improvements during FY16 — nowhere near the budgeted $1 million. Continue reading TIF spending for streets in FY16 did not come anywhere near what DeKalb is claiming

Two Poodles Bring Zombie Housing Ordinance to Council

DeKalb’s Committee of the Whole agenda for Monday includes a zombie ordinance.

Enclosed is an old draft of an ordinance prepared by Klein Thorpe, and Jenkins in which property maintenance items were at one time included in a former draft of the Chronic Nuisance ordinance.

The Housing Task Force rejected the ordinance, and Council already gave direction in this matter. Nevertheless, two council members (henceforth to be thought of as “Biernacki’s poodles” due to my having drawn personal conclusions) requested it be brought back onto the agenda.

The DeKalb Area Rental Association (DARA) has responded by pointing out that the agenda addition brings building code into proposals that were meant only to address residents’ behaviors.

What’s wrong with that? Potentially plenty. It means the zombie provisions are not tweaks, but rather constitute a proposal for a MAJOR POLICY SHIFT from code enforcement being a primarily a “civilian” activity to becoming a police function.

There are a lot of implications — not the least of which is the elimination of Public Works jobs — and they deserve their own discussions on the merits.

Make the jump to read the memo on this agenda item. Continue reading Two Poodles Bring Zombie Housing Ordinance to Council

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.

CPI & Waste Management

The City of DeKalb is getting ready to approve a new 4-year agreement with Waste Management (pp. 122-128) for residential pickup of trash. One proposal is to tie increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), allow for a minimum annual increase of 2% and cap it at 6% no matter what fuel prices are doing. Staff have rejected that option, so Monday Council will consider a contract containing a 0% increase the first year but then 4% per year for subsequent years through FY2013. Staff prefers this plan because “the volatility of fuel pricing would place unnecessary risk upon residents and such a pricing plan would not be in the best interests of the City.”

Prices per “service unit,” then, would jump from 14.62 to 16.45 over the life of the contract — but wait! This may yet be a moot point because the city could opt to sign on to the “Toter” program citywide upon termination of a pilot program March 31, 2010. If the “Toter” program is adopted by DeKalb, households would be charged $17.79 initially, with three raises of 4% each by the end of the contract. In other words, we could go from the current rate of $14.62 to right around $20 by the end of FY2013.

By comparison, the worst-case scenario of a 6% annual increase over the 4 year contract period would result in an FY2013 rate less than $18.50.

The maximum unnecessary financial risk to residents, then, will be posed by the city itself under this plan.

The First Step

One of the citizen commenters at the council meeting last night brought up the City of DeKalb’s Management Pay Plan. She was scandalized by the leap from Step 1 to Step 2. It is easy to see why. Grade One starting pay, for example, is $18.158 per hour but on the first anniversary it jumps to $21.199. That’s a 16.75% increase. After that, annual increases are a more modest 2% per year and in fact they call it the “Two Percent Pay Plan.”

What the commenter seemed not to know is that all city contracts take a big jump from Step 1 to Step 2 (or Step A to Step B).

In 2008, the Police Contract (p. 35) started a patrol officer at an hourly wage of $26.69, which increased to $29.08 at Step B.

The AFSCME contract schedule (p. 40) pays a Building Supervisor at a rate of $28.291 the first year and $33.20 the second.

A new fire fighter makes $23.979 hourly to start, then goes to $29.524.