Council approves FY21 budget on first reading


Patrick Murphy

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith partakes in the City Council meeting at DeKalb Public Library on July 27th.

Kierra Frazier, Managing Editor

DeKALB – Concerns around the city’s third cancellation in a row of a committee of the whole meeting were raised at Monday’s meeting. 

Before every regular city council meeting, a committee of the whole meeting is scheduled to discuss matters in-depth and to make recommendations for formal action for the regular meeting. 

DeKalb resident Mark Charvat said council members need to use the time at the committee of the whole meetings to discuss issues within the city and other concerns residents may have. 

“What kind of message does this tell your constituents,” Charvat asked. “You’re telling me, at least this is my impression, that this council seems to believe that all of the council problems are solved.” 

Mayor Jerry Smith said a committee of the whole meetings have almost always been scheduled when a council member asks for further discussion on a topic, or when the administration suggests further discussion. 

“This procedure, I think, has worked fairly well,” Smith said. “[Bill] Nicklas’s point that COW meetings were not established as a required meeting, and furthermore, that a study of the wealth of items discussed by this city council, often during lengthy, lengthy city council meetings.” 

Council members approved a number of ordinances and resolutions with little discussion and debate at Monday’s meeting. Council members passed on first reading the proposed 2021 fiscal year budget. 

The proposed budget 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, Nicklas said. 

A public hearing was also held for the annual property tax levy. The proposed city levy of $6,522,456 will result in a corporate tax rate of 1.0662%, which is lower than the city rate of 1.1541% in 2019.

Charvat said that as a resident, he’s pleased to see the city council do the right thing when it came to the city council levy this year. 

“This is the first time I’ve actually seen some positive results,” Charvat said. “For the first time, we’re not going to increase the dollar amount for property taxpayers to pay. It’s pretty bad optics to raise property taxes during a pandemic.”