DeKalb City Manager, Anne Maria Gaura’s contract was renewed and amended to an indefinite term with 6 months severance package. It was a 5-3 vote. Bill Finucane, Kate Noreiko, Mike Marquardt, Tony Faivre, and Jerry Smith voted yes. Dave Jacobson, Mike Verbic, and Pat Fagan voted no. The city’s budget was postponed until a Monday. December 4 special meeting of the council.
The reasons to not renew Gaura’s contract were well illustrated throughout the marathon meeting.
The DeKalb County Board now has direct experience with the frustration residents and business owners have long had with staff led agendas and ordinances pushed through the council without proper notification or discussion with the stakeholders the agenda will impact. Time and time again.
The council voted to approve first reading of a resolution to negate an intergovernmental agreement first signed in 1993 as part of an annexation agreement with the County on the County Farm Property which includes the Target Shopping Center, the Walmart Shopping Center, Best Buy, Lowes and a large residential subdivision.
County Board Administrator Gary Hansen asked the council to slow down on the proposal until all the facts and history could be known. But Gaura told the council that the proposal was really based on a recommendation of the Finance Advisory Committee since staff had instructed the FAC to plugin the revenues captured (around $285,000 per year) from ending the agreement with the County into their budget recommendations.
Let that sink in.
Either the council approves the recommendation or more cuts need to be made because the revenue was already included in the budget before they even voted on it.
Look for a legal fight. The County passed their budget a couple of weeks ago. They too budgeted the revenue. A meeting is scheduled for Gaura, Smith, Hanson and County Board Chair Mark Pietrowski. City Attorney Dean Frieders said the council should consider the recommendation from the point that by ending the agreement an escalator or balloon payment would be enacted and since the City had essentially repaid a 1999 loan transfer the County assumed on the Peace Road interchange on I-88 in his legal opinion the Home Rule City could legally end a 40-year intergovernmental agreement on that basis.
Alderman Jacobson was the only vote against passing it on first reading. Finucane objected to it even being on the agenda upon hearing Hanson’s position. As did Verbic who also took exception to it is already in the budget as proposed by staff before the council had discussed it publicly. But they voted along with Faivre, Noreiko, Fagan, Marquardt and Smith for first reading.
A second reading will likely be the next regular meeting (Dec 11) since the budget was also postponed but must be passed in December.
Council made it very plain as did the Mayor at the Nov 21 meeting that they wanted as an option a budget proposal that reflected no increases in the Home Rule Tax or property tax levy. New Finance Director Molly Talkington explained she didn’t get that option included in the agenda packet on time. She later defined the budget proposal as balanced to the policies expressed by the council.
That “balanced to their policies” budget proposal included, according to Jacobson, what amounted to a nine-percent increase in the property tax levy, and a one-cent increase on the Home Rule tax.
Gaura agreed with Talkington and spoke about how well and fiscally conservative she has done with the City’s finance.
Jacobson responded that if the City ever released minutes and removed redactions from a report from an outside financial consultant (EPI) that council discussed in executive session the public would know the truth about how bad the City’s finances really are. He said that unless significant staff cuts were made the City could wipe out its reserve fund in as few as two years.
The Council voted 7-1 to postpone the vote for first reading until Monday Dec 4.
Dean Frieders made the presentation to renew and amend Gaura’s contract. Several residents spoke in opposition to the proposal. The council remained mum. No one spoke in favor of renewing her contract. Gaura did not address the council on the matter.
With no discussion from the council, Mayor Smith called for the vote. Pat Fagan was first on the roll call, voting no. Kate Noreiko voted yes. Mike Verbic voted no. Tony Faivre voted yes. Dave Jacobson voted no. Bill Finucane voted yes. Mike Marquardt voted yes. Mayor Smith cast the deciding vote which was yes. Had he voted no the measure would have failed on a 4-4 vote.
County Farm History:
County Board Minutes Sept 24, 1908 meeting with “County Poor Farm Report”24Sept1908
A brief history of the County Poor Farm
City of DeKalb and DeKalb County discuss County Farm Annexation15April1978
City of DeKalb approves 40-year Annexation Agreement with Sale Tax Sharing Agreement12_Oct_1993