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DeKalb City Council forensic auditor chosen for TIF inquiry

TIF funds approved for Hometown Sports Bar & Grill; Palmer Court property transfer

Monday's city council meeting, which was over before 7 p.m., included a vote to approve a TIF incentive agreement with Hometown Sports Bar & Grill.
Monday's city council meeting, which was over before 7 p.m., included a vote to approve a TIF incentive agreement with Hometown Sports Bar & Grill.

DeKALB – DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato somberly addressed the City Council on Monday as he shared that Chicago-based Ernst and Young has been selected to proceed with the forensic audit of DeKalb’s past tax increment financing use.

Amato first thanked the DeKalb Police Department and countywide law enforcement and city officials for their support as his office grapples with the news that one of their colleagues, Assistant State’s Attorney Stacia Hollinshead, was killed Saturday.

“I extend condolences on the part of this council and city,” Mayor Jerry Smith said. “I know it’s been tough. Our thoughts are with you and your associates.”

Amato was at the meeting Monday to give a brief update as his office oversees the TIF audit in conjunction with City Manager Bill Nicklas. The other two bidders, Portland-based Marsh Minick Financial Crime Consulting Services, and McGovern and Green LLP, also based in Chicago, did not meet the requirements because they did not have TIF experience, Amato said.

“[Ernst and Young] has a not-to-exceed price of $150,000, and that is the term that the state’s attorney’s office is selecting for the bid,” Amato said, who said contracts for the service are forthcoming. “Once we get those contracts, we’ll be sending them to Mr. Nicklas for approval.”

Palmer Court property put to rest

After a months-long debate, council approved a transfer of two small parcels of land for $1 each to Larry and Kay Berke, owners of Royal Travels & Tours, 122 N. First St., on an 8-0 vote.

The transfer is part of a recent compromise related to the Egyptian Theatre improvement plans, which had received some push back from residents calling it a “bribe,” and that it was “forced.

Kay Berke said she wanted to stick up for her family’s reputation.

“When our family name was being slandered, and false statements made, I felt it important that I come forward,” she said. “We put a compromise on the table to protect the value of our property. At not time was the Egyptian Theatre forced to sell anything to us. This is a joint compromise.”

Hometown Sports Bar & Grill
gets TIF money

Another downtown establishment, Hometown Sports Bar & Grill, 241 to 249 E. Lincoln Highway, was awarded its funds from TIF 2. Owner Tom Schmidt plans to expand his restaurant to the neighboring property and create a second bar and restaurant space for live entertainment, called “Stage Left by Hometown Sports Bar & Grill.”

The TIF incentive agreement was approved by council with no discussion on an 8-0 vote.

Request for proposals
for on-call transit consultant

Council reached consensus for City Manager Bill Nicklas to put out request for proposals for a part-time, on-call transit consultant.

For the past year, the city has employed a part-time transit consolidation coordinator to oversee the consolidation of the Huskie Line with the city’s transit system, according to the agenda. The coordinator’s employment ended March 9.

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