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DeKalb City Council to consider budget modifications, including motor fuel tax increase

DeKALB – Consensus was reached during a special DeKalb City Council meeting Monday to propose a 2-cent motor fuel tax increase to help boost funding for street repair in the fiscal 2018 budget.

Although a 1-cent increase was orginally introduced, 1st Ward Alderman David Jacobson, who was acting as the temporary council chairman since DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith was out of town, said it was not strong enough to have enough of an effect on the city’s roads.

“For me, it would be zero or two,” Jacobson said.

The motor fuel tax increase is estimated to generate about $360,000.

Both the motor fuel tax increase and a home-rule sales tax increase, which the council had rejected as part of budget negotiations, had been suggested by Public Works Director Tim Holdeman as potential revenue sources to the streets earlier in the year.

Fifth Ward Alderwoman Kate Noreiko said she could live with the 2 cents.

“The reality is there are going to be people upset no matter how much, and we certainly do need to make more of a commitment to streets,” Noreiko said.

Sixth Ward Alderman Mike Verbic, however, disagreed with the measure, calling it premature. Third Ward Alderman Michael Marquardt was also concerned it would not provide enough bang for the buck.

Other modifications to the budget included the addition of a few proposed cuts such as a code compliance coordinator position and snow removal services.

The council also agreed to leave the termination of an intergovernmental agreement with DeKalb County regarding the Peace Road interchange, which reallocates $245,000 in spending to operational city services, out of the budget. They also cut $5,000 for certain engineering testing and $11,000 by not hiring an engineering intern.

The tax increase will have a first and second reading before a vote on the budget during the council’s Dec. 11 meeting.

To ensure budget talks next year will not be clustered into a two-month period, city staff have proposed a yearlong budget process for fiscal 2019, which was briefly touched on during the Monday meeting.

In January, the council will have a goal-setting session on what they hope to accomplish in 2018 and will establish policy direction on how to best use the remaining tax increment financing dollars generated from the city two TIF districts, which expire in the next few years.

A midyear budget review would then be conducted in July with revenue and expenditure reductions for the city two largest operating funds: the general fund and the water fund.

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