Proposed FY21 city budget balanced, city staff sees decrease

Source%3A+Proposed+FY21+city+budget.

Kierra Frazier

Source: Proposed FY21 city budget.

Kierra Frazier, News Editor

DeKALB – The City Council and Finance Advisory Committee met Monday to discuss the proposed FY21 city budget, which includes $103 million in projected revenue against $98 million in expenses, making the budget balanced. 

Due to the decline in business and sales taxes, the city is estimated to lose $4.5 million in revenue, City Manager Bill Nicklas said. Despite the balanced budget, the pandemic has affected the city’s revenue “very deeply,” Nicklas said. 

There are several funds the city accounts for when it comes to the budget, they include the general funds, special revenues funds, debt services funds, capital projects funds, enterprise funds, internal service funds and trust and agency funds. 

The general fund accounts for $35 million in revenues and $36 million in expenses for FY21. The general fund is the operating fund of the city and is used to account for all financial resources traditionally associated with governments that are not required to be accounted for in another fund. 

The sales and uses taxes contribute the most revenue to the general fund, along with property taxes, intergovernmental revenues and more. 

Personnel expenses including salaries and wages and more account for 83% of the overall general fund budget. 

The proposed budget also notes the reduction in staffing for the city since 2018. In FY21, there’s planned to be 204.5 employees within the city, in FY18, there were 225.5, according to the proposed FY21 budget. This is the lowest staffing level DeKalb has seen since FY13.

Mayor Jerry Smith said the numbers reflecting the staffing changes over the years shouldn’t be taken lightly. 

“I commend all of our departments for being very participatory with our city manager and with this council,” Smith said. “In the past few years, realizing that we had to tighten our municipal belt if you will, and part and parcel of that was in staffing.”  

Lynn Neeley, chairperson of the FAC, said the city’s main problem was it was spending too much on personnel, rather than being a service organization. 

“There was a structural problem and I know we’re asking an awful lot of people but some of this reduction, especially on some of those salaries that were so high at one time, are absolutely necessary in my opinion,” Neeley said. 

When the general fund expenses are broken down by department, police account for the biggest budget with $13 million, according to the proposed budget. The police department is the only department who sees an increase in staffing, there’s an additional full-time employee and three additional part-time employees for FY21. 

The new organizational structure for the police department includes doubling the community support services division with its existing patrol and investigations divisions. 

Calls for police reform have intensified amid the Black Lives Matter protests from over the summer after George Floyd died in police custody. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes.

“While it will not be a perfect fix if you will, it certainly is a step in the right direction and I’m proud to live in a community like the City of DeKalb that has put together an organizational chart, reflecting a major change in our community policing,” Smith said. 

The proposed city budget will go before the City Council at 6 p.m. Monday for a vote.