LUST at First & Locust

On July 22, 2010, the City of DeKalb received a No Further Remediation (NFR) Letter from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the property it owns at First and Locust streets (AKA “skating rink site”).

[A]n NFR Letter signifies that compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements has been achieved, all corrective action (if any) has been completed, and no further corrective action is necessary for the protection of human health, safety and the environment.

Continue reading LUST at First & Locust

City Budget Open Thread…Mayday! Mayday!

money The proposed City of DeKalb FY 2011 budget has total expenditures going up by about $5 million over last year, mostly due to increased spending on the downtown TIF, health insurance and the airport.

The budget as drafted will be balanced IF:

  • there are cuts of 25-30 staff (or, alternatively, everyone takes a 12% pay cut)

  • the State pays its full share of the income tax

  • prices of commodities such as gas and road salt don’t go up

  • revenue projections are in the ballpark

  • they can continue to keep the lid on overtime
  • Continue reading City Budget Open Thread…Mayday! Mayday!

    Comments on 4/12 Meeting

    I jumped in about 7:30 last night, in the midst of citizens’ comments so the proclamations must have taken a long time! Here’s my assessment of what I saw.

    The Bad

    The saddest part, of course, was Council’s approval of almost all of ReNew DeKalb’s wish list. With that they closed the door on the possibility of using TIF funding for the badly-needed police station expansion for the next 10 years; an option that, in light of our poor financial position, we should have held onto.

    Also, the city left out something important in its repayment calculations. It’s all well and good to ask whether we can repay the $12 million if EAV within the TIF drops another 5% or 10%, but nobody mentioned what the threshold is for real trouble. Why is a 10% drop the arbitrary worst-case scenario? Is it because we’d hit trouble at 11%? 15%? Holy cow, I can’t believe nobody asked. This is a failure of imagination that could really end up biting us.

    The Good Continue reading Comments on 4/12 Meeting

    Verbic Does Work for Barb City Manor

    Third Ward Alderman Pam Verbic did finally return my e-mail inquiry regarding her employment at Barb City Manor, confirming that she has worked there part-time for the past three years.

    You will recall that such a connection will require her abstention from votes on BCM and TIF 2.

    Thanks to others who made the same inquiry, the cumulative effect of which may have helped influence the decision to respond.

    Letter: Council Puts Taxpayers on Hook

    Freshly published in the Daily Chronicle:

    To the Editor:

    During the March 8 DeKalb City Council meeting, 4th Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher made a plea to the community for support during the upcoming budget preparation period. According to the meeting minutes, Ald. Gallagher “asked that the citizens be empathetic with the current financial situation facing the City. He stated that Council has delayed raising taxes, and are faced with a deficit and harsh realities.”

    To my mind, most of the “harsh realities” are borne by DeKalb taxpayers whose city government still lives in 2005 when it comes to prioritizing spending.

    I also question the ways this unit of government chooses to demonstrate empathy and support of its residents.

    Allow me to illustrate. Continue reading Letter: Council Puts Taxpayers on Hook

    Biernacki: “Widespread Community Support” for Skating Rink

    Northern Star‘s article on the impending demise of DeKalb’s synthetic skating rink:

    Because The Skate School was not at fault for the decline in patronage, Biernacki said he is sure the council will relieve the contract.

    “We pursued [the ice rink] with widespread community support,” Biernacki said. “That support did not translate into patrons.”

    Biernacki said there are many choices for the council to make in regards to the future of the ice rink. “We need to look at all of the options,” Biernacki said. “We could reprogram the rink or mothball it for a while. It’s still up in the air.”

    Oh, my. There’s a whopper packed right in the middle. Let’s pull it out and eyeball it for a min. Continue reading Biernacki: “Widespread Community Support” for Skating Rink

    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

  • You May Raise My Taxes When…

    Is it wrong to prefer a Council meeting without Wogen and Simpson? I’ve decided there’s no immediate need to get rid of Wogen unless he starts showing up again, or if the 3rd Ward wants the mayor to appoint somebody to the spot. And Simpson can take as much time off as he likes unless the 1st puts up a fuss.

    Four hundred ninety-six days and counting

    In other news, I’ve decided it’s A-OK with me for Council to raise my taxes — as soon as the following conditions are met: Continue reading You May Raise My Taxes When…