DeKALB – New City Manager Bill Nicklas’ influence already is being felt in the city, as evidenced by a tightened council meeting Monday night.
Although the initial focus of the evening was Mayor Jerry Smith’s State of the City address, the council also addressed several hot-button topics. It moved forward with a planned forensic audit of the city’s historical use of tax increment financing surplus funds and approved plans for Aldi and a nationally known fitness center to move into Northland Plaza, 2500 Sycamore Road.
The council also postponed decision-making on funding agreements with the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, pending Nicklas’ further review.
Joyce Stupegia also was appointed by a unanimous vote to fill the vacant 3rd Ward alderman seat, which she will hold until the April election.
Community Development Block
Grant Program funding amended
Council approved an amendment to the city’s Community Development Block Grant Program, which has received funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for 25 years, to adjust the block program’s five-year and 2018 plans.
No residents addressed the amendment during the public hearing, which also received no council comment. The block grant goes toward maintaining affordable housing for residents in the city, according to Nicklas’ city manager summary for the agenda item.
In August 2018, the city was made aware of a $459,532 allocation it would receive from HUD for the block grant program. Jo Ellen Charlton, community development director, then proposed an amendment to reprioritize block grant funding in the consolidated plans to better meet local needs.
“The interesting thing is this change is a direct result of some of the changes that came out of the [Annie Glidden North Revitalization Plan],” Charlton said Friday. “When we knew we would have some funding potentially available for addressing fiber and lighting and cameras [in the neighborhood], [we] worked with staff to coordinate what we thought would be a better use of those funds.”
The block grant amendment passed unanimously.
Forensic audit funding authorized
The council unanimously adopted a resolution to authorize Nicklas to approve a number of agreements relating to the TIF forensic audit.
In December, the council earmarked $200,000 to pay for a forensic audit of the city’s past use of TIF money, which will be done by an outside auditor chosen by the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The agreement authorized Nicklas to assist Amato in the selection of an auditing firm as necessary, as well as to commit the $200,000 to cover the expense.
“Naturally, I would keep the council and general public informed of this audit,” Nicklas said.