DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council on Monday moved forward with a fiscal 2019 budget and passed a 2018 tax levy.
The meeting, which lasted more than four hours, also saw the council table a proposed ordinance to strictly regulate tax increment financing funds.
Fiscal 2019 budget
No residents participated in the fiscal 2019 budget public hearing. The budget passed, 6-1, in a first reading vote, with 1st Ward Alderman David Jacobson voting no. The second reading vote is scheduled for Dec. 18.
Jacobson started a chain of proposed amendments to the debated budget, which led to two additional amendments being passed before the first reading vote. All three amendments passed, 7-0.
“We’ve been reminded many times by the [Finance Advisory Committee] that any budget can be amended at any time throughout the year,” Mayor Jerry Smith said.
Jacobson proposed an amendment to include the negative balance of $478,000 from the DeKalb airport to the general fund deficit, and that any negative balance in that account be made whole by the general fund on an annual basis.
Seventh Ward Alderman Anthony Faivre proposed an amendment that included a caveat to revisit the budget at the first council meeting in March after the Finance Advisory Committee has had a chance to review additional budget shortfalls.
Fifth Ward Alderman Kate Noreiko proposed a third amendment that any vacancies in the first six months of the hiring freeze be brought forward for council approval, not including sworn police and fire positions and telecommunication roles.
Updated numbers in documents posted on the city website list the city’s total expected revenue for 2019 to be $97.1 million, and total expenditures to be $89.2 million. Both totals include the police and fire pension funds, as well as the DeKalb Public Library fund.
The city’s general fund is expected to collect $37.9 million in revenue, with expenditures of $37 million. Through the council and Finance Advisory Committee’s budget balancing measures to date – which also can be found in the packet – the general fund reserve balance now is $8,741,951, or 23.6 percent of the total general fund expenditures.
2018 tax levy
The council passed a 2018 tax levy with a 7-0 vote, to capture only new construction growth from equalized assessed value of homes, at a 0.2 percent rate.
Tabling TIF regulations
The council voted to postpone adopting a strict regulatory chapter amendment for tax increment financing, which city officials created in response to the recent backlash by other taxing bodies on the city’s past misuse of TIF surplus funds. The postponement vote was 7-0.
Smith shared a letter he wrote to State’s Attorney Rick Amato in response to Amato’s recent letter that was sent to all affected taxing bodies and passed harsh judgment on the city’s handling of TIF funds over the years.
“We’re working to do what is legal, what is ethical, and certainly to avoid what is outrageous,” Smith said, reading directly from his letter sent to Amato on Dec. 6. “We face a series of unfortunately intertwining deadlines, the complicated interest of many parties, and the events of the past several weeks, all in addition to the normal challenges associated with running a city.”