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City Council preview: Budget healthier after cuts

April 6, 2019 GMT

DeKALB – Although the city’s annual finance audit is still underway, City Manager Bill Nicklas is releasing updated figures that show a budget reserve shortfall of $860,000, as opposed to $1.1 million projected in December.

According to the agenda for Monday’s City Council meeting, set for

6 p.m. at the DeKalb Municipal Building, recent staffing decisions and reduction in personnel costs associated with the now-tabled commercial building inspection program have aided in closing the fiscal 2018 budget gap. Nicklas will provide the council with an update on the budget only, with no vote needed.

“What we’re aiming for is, every year we do our budget and at the end of the year when we see what we have, 25% of the General Fund is set aside in the reserve fund for unexpected [outcomes],” Nicklas said.

With the new figures, the fiscal 2019 budget could see the reserve fund sitting at 22.6%, closer to that 25% goal.

“That’s projected through the end of the year,” Nicklas said. “And then with a full year of savings realized in 2020, they’ll completely close the gap and the reserve funds will be comfortably above [the 25%]. For the next two years, we should exceed that 25% threshold.”

Nicklas is organizing a planning session in July – with the newly elected aldermen sworn in by then – to review the updated numbers, begin planning for the fiscal 2020 budget year and address residents’ concerns and ideas.

With a word of caution, Nicklas said the only caveat to the positive budget numbers is the ever-looming presence of pension obligations.

“It’s not an us versus them,” Nicklas emphasized. “We’ll have to [address pension] collaboratively. I really think we can figure this out.”

Other items on the agenda include a vote to fund three Northern Illinois University interns between January 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020, for $15,000, as part of an ongoing partnership with NIU and the Illinois State Board of Higher Education.

The council also will consider hiring an administrative assistant for the DeKalb Fire Department, since Traci Lemay, who currently holds the position, has indicated she will retire May 22. If approved, the position would remain full-time, with a salary range of $48,000 to $52,000.

The council also will consider hiring a full-time account technician for the finance department, because of the planned May 3 retirement of Patricia Hiland. The position would be funded at $64,700, including benefits.