DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council gave its first approval to the city's fiscal 2015 budget, but not without discussing the projected $543,753 deficit.
If council members approve the budget June 23, the city will spend $35.1 million from its general fund while bringing in nearly $34.6 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
The deficit is caused by the city using $607,000 from its general fund for a balloon bond payment for a decade-old bond that was used to build hangars at the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport.
Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor, who was the only alderman to oppose the budget, suggested the city refinance the bond instead and, among other things, cut expenditures by 1 percent across the board.
“[We] chastised other units of government for deficit spending and now we are one,” Naylor said.
Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu said refinancing the bond over a 13-year period would cost the city an extra $163,252 in interest. Refinancing would bring the total interest on the bond, which was originally $800,000, to more than $500,000.
Mayor John Rey advocated for paying off the airport balloon bond. He said the budget as presented represented the plan for fulfilling the operational needs of the city.
“I'm confident there's not fluff left in individual budgets that we could go through and ask for a percentage trimming of individual departmental budgets,” Rey said.
Second Ward Alderman Bill Finucane said he saw the budget – including the balloon bond payment – as the first step to financial stability for the city. Fourth Ward Alderman Bob Snow and 7th Ward Alderwoman Monica O'Leary also supported the proposed budget. First Ward Alderman David Jacobson, 6th Ward Alderman Dave Baker and 3rd Ward Alderwoman Kristen Lash were absent.
The proposed budget also includes plans to outsource DeKalb's building inspection services and hire two part-time property maintenance inspectors, which the city staff has said will save $250,000, or 56 percent of the current costs to staff the department. The city placed its building supervisor and two building inspectors on paid leave last month.
By the end of the fiscal year next June, city officials expect to have $5.48 million in reserves, which is 15.39 percent of its general fund expenditures and nearly 10 percentage points short of the city's 25 percent goal.
By the numbers
• General fund revenues: $34,593,755
• General fund expenditures: $35,137,508
• Deficit: $543,753