Friday, December 11, 2009

"Missing alderman could face fines"

Created: Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:43 p.m. CST
Updated: Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:44 p.m. CST

Missing alderman could face fines

DeKALB – A city alderman may be fined $500 for missing recent meetings.

The city council may impose the fine on 3rd Ward Alderman Victor Wogen if it is deemed that he did not have a good and sufficient cause for being absent at city council meetings held Nov. 9 and Nov. 23. The fine is $250 for each meeting missed.

The absence policy is outlined in city code, and the vote to fine Wogen was put on Monday’s city council meeting agenda at the request of Mayor Kris Povlsen, City Manager Mark Biernacki said at a news conference Thursday.

Wogen does not have to be present for the vote, Biernacki said.

Wogen could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon; his provided cell phone number was disconnected.

Also on Monday, the city council is expected to take final action on reforming financial policies that relate to elected officials or city employees doing business with the city. These policies stem from public projects that Wogen’s now-defunct masonry company performed in 2008 by submitting the lowest bid quote to the city.

Because each of the six projects was less than $20,000, they didn’t require city council action, according to state statute. If changes are approved, the city council would have purchasing powers on projects where a city employee or elected official has direct or indirect financial interest, unless the payment is under $1,500.

Also, the council passed, on first reading, to have control over all spending that is greater than $10,000; state statute gives that power to purchases exceeding $20,000.

Biernacki said that while he will “respect and follow through” with the council’s decision, it will largely delay operations. For example, fuel purchases are often done in bulk, with purchases upwards of $13,000 each fill-up.

There were 16 bulk fuel purchases in 2009, Public Works Director Rick Monas said.

The new policy would require holding special city council meetings for the sole authorization of such spending, Biernacki said.

A public hearing will be held Monday on the tax levy, which needs to be passed by the end of the year.

In November, aldermen approved increasing the tax rate 4 percent, from 60 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation to 62.5 cents. Biernacki said he’s recommending a further increase of 70 cents per $100 EAV to offset impact to the general fund.

A tax rate of 62.5 cents per $100 EAV would cost the average owner of a $200,000 home an extra $17 per year. A tax rate of 70 cents per $100 EAV would cost the same homeowner an extra $67 per year.

Under the 62.5 cent scenario, the general fund would have to come up with $700,000 to pay pension obligations. At the 70-cent rate, about $200,000 would be drawn from the general fund to pay pensions, about the same as this year.

The extra $700,000 to pay pensions would be in addition to a $2.5 million to $3 million shortfall expected this fiscal year.

“And it doesn’t look like it’s getting better,” Biernacki said.

One major cost-saving measure is being introduced: Phasing out city contributions to health insurance premiums for retired workers.

The city council also may take action Monday to reduce health care costs by $5.5 million over 10 years by phasing out coverage for retirees’ dependents and non-bona fide retirees.

Non-bona fide retirees are city employees who retired without meeting age and years-of-service requirements.

Also on the agenda:

• A consideration of a five-year plan for budgeting and distributing Community Development Block Grants.
• An audit report for Fiscal Year 2009.
• A resolution to start charging a fee to oversize and overweight vehicles that use city streets.
• Approving licenses for three tattoo business applicants.

If you go

What: DeKalb City Council meeting
When: 6 p.m. Monday
Where: DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb

Copyright © 2009 Daily Chronicle. All rights reserved.


Anonymous said...

Ha ha, good luck trying to collect anything from the deadbeat alderman!

The city should file the paperwork now to garnish his wages. This pattern of behavior explains why other bill collectors garnished his wages years ago.

zsilvia said...

Seriously, a fine. He'll probably laugh all the way home at how ignorant people are and how he has scammed them. That includes you, council and mayor. That is if he decides to show his face.