City revenue increases, council discusses budget


Northern Star File Photo

Dekalb City Manager Bill Nicklas signed a nondisclosure agreement with Project Barb developers in June.

By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — The proposed FY20 budget is balanced at $103 million in projected revenue for the city and $101.8 million in expenses.

The City Council and Finance Advisory Committee held their first of two special joint meetings Monday to review the Fiscal Year 2020 proposed budget.

There was little discussion from Council and FAC members, but most of the meeting revolved around the general fund budget and special revenue funds.

The general fund accounts for most of the spending residents or businesses need from the city. Special revenue funds are earmarked for specific purposes. For example, motor fuel tax revenue must be used to fund street maintenance and operations.

“The budget is about services, and how we intend to pay for them and how do we arrive at decisions with respect to the priorities and prioritization of the services that we intend to provide,” Nicklas said.

Mayor Jerry Smith praised the proposed budget as “the most complete narrative [he’s] seen in city budgets.”

General Fund

The FY20 general fund budget accounts for 192 full-time positions, which is five fewer than FY19, and 40 part-time positions, four fewer than FY19. This is the lowest staffing level the city has seen since FY13, according to the proposed budget.

Nicklas said the FY20 budget shows a projected increase of $411,000 in general fund revenue from FY19’s budget.

In February, four high-level employees were among seven layoffs within the city intended to save $1.1 million in savings within the General Fund but instead saved $580,000 in 2019, according to an Oct. 30 Northern Star article.

Nicklas said DeKalb residents with limited health care options are getting a fire department paramedic to provide on-the-go healthcare instead of paying for insurance — causing the ambulance fees in the budget to double over the last two years.

Seeing that there was a rising trend in ambulance fees, the budget proposes a transfer of $250,000 out of the Refuse Fund and into ambulance services. The Refuse Fund is spent on garbage, recycling and yard waste collection.

The DeKalb Police Department has a proposed budget of $28.9 million including an initiative to pilot a body camera program. The initiative would have several officers test different models of cameras and select the best option for their needs, according to the budget.

Special Revenue Funds

The Motor Fuel Tax Fund has a proposed allocation of $1.68 million. The money can only be used for certain costs related to street maintenance and improvement projects.

The Transportation Fund has a proposed budget of a little less than $10.8 million.

Of that, $9.8 million would go toward public transit operating costs. The state funds 61% of this, and the second largest source of funding is NIU with 22%.

“It’s a $10.8 million budget, and much of that gets spent every year,” Nicklas said. “We’ll have a reserve at the end of the year of about $2.9 million.”

Nicklas said the projected reserve will be saved for a possible transit facility and new buses in the future.

City Council and FAC members will continue to review the budget 6 p.m. Wednesday at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

At the regular City Council meeting Monday, there will be a public hearing of the proposed budget when it will be up for a first-reading vote.