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Government Local

DeKalb City Council could fill budget deficits Monday


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DeKALB – It wasn’t long ago that DeKalb had only a $22,000 surplus in the general fund.

Now, with the Fiscal Year 2011 audit almost complete, city officials say they are looking at a $6.3 million surplus.

The DeKalb City Council on Monday will be asked to amend last year’s budget, allocating $3.6 million of that surplus into eliminating the deficits found in funds for the city’s airport, workers compensation and capital projects.

“I’m very impressed with what the city staff has accomplished in the past 18 months,” City Manager Mark Biernacki said Thursday. “I think we have a success story worth telling.”

The big gains in the general fund came from a variety of sources, Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu said, but primarily can be credited to a bigger return on investments, bigger gains in city revenues and cost-cutting measures such as the 20 layoffs the city approved in 2010.

The transfer of funds still will give the city a general fund surplus worth roughly 10 percent of its expenditures. The city hopes to raise that to 25 percent in the next few years.

The council will hear the proposal in both the Committee of the Whole and the full city council meetings.

Also on the agenda for the full council is a contract proposal for Virginia-based architectural firm PSA Dewberry. The firm wants to be hired to design the city’s new police station on West Lincoln Highway.

In October, the council rejected a $1.14 million contract with the firm, which would have paid for the station’s design and needed civil engineering and site work. But after some retooling from city officials, the contract is now worth $807,000.

Biernacki said the city still would have to pay roughly $130,000 for the civil engineering and other site-related tasks outside of PSA Dewberry.

He also said costs had been cut from the contract by changing certain aspects of the proposed station. The most noteworthy change was the police’s firing range, which will not be built during initial construction, he said. Police officers still will use the firing range at their current facility until more funding can be acquired.

Also scheduled for discussion:

• The Committee of the Whole is scheduled to discuss a proposal to allow DeKalb residents to raise chickens on their property for food and eggs. Numerous citizens have petitioned the city asking the council to consider it. City officials say the downsides could be added noise, odor and health risks.

• A public hearing is scheduled for the DeKalb Public Library’s proposal to close a portion of North Third Street for the library to eventually expand. The city will need at least six of the seven council members to approve the ordinance, which would also waive certain zoning regulations for the proposed addition.

If approved, the library will close a $1.45 million land deal with DeKalb developer Steve Irving.

• DeKalb residents could have the opportunity to vote on a proposal to allow the city to bid on electricity rates on their behalf if the council approves an ordinance putting the question on the March primary ballot. City officials say electrical aggregation has provided other communities electricity savings of up to 25 percent.

If you go

What: DeKalb City Council and Committee of the Whole meetings

When: Committee of the Whole meeting starts at 6 p.m. Monday; city council meeting is at 7 p.m.

Where:
DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

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