Council ratifies tax levy

By M. Robert Berg

A new mayor reigned for a day over the DeKalb City Council Monday night.

The new mayor presided over a meeting where the council approved next year’s corporate tax levy, approved a zoning change for a proposed apartment complex, denied another zoning change for a proposed grocery store and approved the hiring of a replacement firefighter.

Third Ward Ald. Gary Wiggins took over the mayoral duties for the meeting because of DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow’s illness.

The first order of business was passing the corporate tax levy. “The city council directed the staff to draft a levy ordinance which would result in a city property tax levy of $1,447,919, which is 3.5 percent higher than the 1992 levy of $1,399,124,” said DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas.

In this increase, the only levies actually going up are the pension and FICA levies, which are mandated by the federal government, Nicklas said.

Sparrow, at the last regular meeting, said this was a perfect example of unfunded mandates handed down by the federal government that burden cities. Oct. 27 was a day dedicated to alleviating this burden by calling attention to the unfunded mandate situation, Sparrow said.

In other business, an area west of the Eco Park Apartment complex was rezoned to allow for the construction of a new apartment complex.

“The rezoning (allows for) a planned development of 96 two- or three-bedroom apartments contained in 12-unit structures,” Nicklas said. “The proposed development plan and preliminary plat satisfy the open space, parking, access and other subdivision requirements.”

Another zoning change request was denied, leaving a potential grocery store looking for a building out in the cold.

“The applicant, Carlos Garcia, wishes to rent the building for a small grocery store specializing in Mexican foods,” Nicklas said.

The council denied the request 7-0, citing the lack of adequate parking in the area and the possible blockage of Grove Street during stock deliveries.

Also, the council approved the hiring of a firefighter to replace David Johnson, who has been on a duty-related disability since Oct. 9.

Johnson has applied for a disability pension, with the hearing set for Nov. 24, Nicklas said. “Because his absence from duty has necessitated some unbudgeted overtime to satisfy the current 11-person shift minimum, acting Chief Reuben Nelson asks that the council authorize the hiring of a replacement firefighter contingent upon the Fire Pension Board’s granting of a disability pension,” he said.

With the city council approval, the process of finding a replacement has been speeded up, because if the council had waited until after the pension hearing, no one could be hired until after the Dec. 13 city council meeting.

The council also authorized Sparrow to sign the Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS), which will be sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This document may lead to monetary aid to DeKalb to help low-income and homeless persons, among other population groups.