DeKalb’s fiscal 2014 budget awaits final vote by City Council

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council still has a little work to do before they finalize the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The City Council approved the city’s budget, staffing plan and capital plan for the fiscal 2014. The council is expected to take a final vote at their June 10 meeting.

The city will inch closer to its goal of having their general fund reserves be 25 percent of their annual expenditures. Assuming the council adds no more spending amendments, they will end fiscal 2014 with a reserve balance of $5.5 million, or 19.2 percent.

For months, city officials have been trying to reach the 25 percent threshold, as agencies such as Moody’s Investors Service regard high reserve balances as being positive indicators of fiscal health.

On Monday, the city staff informed council members that Moody’s removed the negative outlook attached to the city’s Aa2 bond rating.

The majority of Tuesday’s discussion focused on individual spending amendments to the budget, which if they had been approved, would have caused the city to enter fiscal 2014 with a $348,000 deficit in their general revenue fund.

The council whittled down the individual amendments one-by-one, with individual votes occurring for each amendment. Each amendment that would have taken money from the general fund was defeated or postponed.

“It reminds me of living paycheck to paycheck,” 3rd Ward Alderwoman Kristen Lash said. “If one thing goes wrong, the whole budget is blown. We can’t operate a city like that.”

Other amendments that altered the balances of other funds were approved, such as having the economic development fund pay for the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s taking over the downtown event planning Re:New DeKalb had hosted. That line item was increased from $25,000 to $45,000.

The city will spend at least $30 million from its general fund, a 5.4 percent increase from this fiscal year. The city’s general fund pays for city personnel, equipment, and contractual services.

The city is projecting $31.1 million in revenue for fiscal 2014, a 4.2 percent increase from this fiscal year. In fiscal 2014, the city is paying $750,000 more on police and fire pensions out of their general fund.