DeKalb fiscal condition ‘pretty good’

By Lindsey Salvatelli

A State of the City address was made during Monday’s scheduled meeting of the Committee of the Whole.

Mayor Jerry Smith spoke to residents about the progress made in DeKalb during 2017 and some of the ongoing projects to build the city’s economy.

“If there are two general areas in which the city is now focused, I think public safety and economic development probably top that list,” Smith said.

Smith said he applauds the proactive action the DeKalb Police Department has taken to prevent crime in the city. Smith acknowledged there is more work to be done to reduce crime in DeKalb but said he was happy to announce preliminary data from DeKalb Police Department officials regarding crime incidents in the city indicated a drop in crime.

Smith said the Annie Glidden North Revitalization Plan meetings to address improvements regarding the northwest quadrant of the city, the area of the city that has the highest concentration of police and fire service calls, will continue to be held. The Annie Glidden North Revitalization Task Force was established to help with the planning process, which engages DeKalb community members and officials in hopes of improving the desirability of the area.

“Decisive action is absolutely paramount if we want to maintain safety for our residents,” Smith said.

Regarding the city’s focus of economic development, Smith said downtown DeKalb and the Cornerstone Development project, a plan to introduce luxury apartments and restaurants by developer John Pappas, has been of particular interest. Smith also said the city had growth regarding stores and eateries, like Chili’s, 2370 Sycamore Road, and Casey’s General Store, 2131 E. Lincoln Highway, and intends to work hard to fill vacancies in the industrial district to grow the city’s tax base.

“We’ll continue to work with local and national businesses that see DeKalb as a wonderful locale for growth,” Smith said.

Of the concerns addressed by Smith during the speech were the aging roadways and older public vehicles. He said the city will continue its patchwork program to restore the streets but asked for residents to remain patient about the length of time needed to make improvements to roadways.

“There’s no short-term fix here, I’m afraid,” Smith said.

Smith said he fell short of going into depth about the city’s fiscal agenda and Tax Increment Finance program during the address because the Committee of the Whole has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday at the DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St., dedicated to the topic.

“I think I can safely say, despite arguments by some to the contrary, that our current fiscal condition is pretty good,” Smith said.