Assertions made by DeKalb City Council are absurd

By Letter Writer

Jeremy Piscoran’s article covering Monday’s DeKalb City Council meeting in Tuesday’s Northern Star included the city manager’s positions that a) restructuring DeKalb’s debt to free up money for city hall remodeling would have no impact on taxpayers; and b) DeKalb has relatively low debt compared to similarly-sized communities, so going into more debt is OK.

Both assertions are absurd.

Of course additional debt has an impact on taxpayers! Every dollar that goes to debt service is a dollar that cannot be used to avoid layoffs of public safety workers — and, according to statements made during budget hearings last spring, January 2011 layoffs of first responders are on the table. How is that not an impact?

Secondly, any assessment of DeKalb’s debt load should include unfunded liabilities for post-employment health insurance and in the police and fire pension funds.

The city may tell you that we’re “only” $30-some million in debt, but unfunded liabilities effectively double that number.

Another factor is DeKalb’s current exposure risk. The city has no liability coverage against lawsuits and has not been able to save the money it needs to obtain this coverage.

Let’s get real. While I am not strictly against the restructuring plan, any monies freed up by stretching the debt term should go towards stabilizing our police and fire services and purchasing catastrophic liability coverage.

It should not continue to feed our leaders’ edifice complex.

Lynn Fazekas