Van Buer sticks to his word

By Andrew Schlesser

After six months in office, DeKalb Mayor Frank Van Buer sticks to his campaign promise of encouraging economic growth and restoring open leadership in DeKalb.

During the mayor’s State of the City Address last week, he mentioned using tax abatements to attract big businesses to DeKalb.

Tax abatements

Van Buer campaigned stating he would analyze tax abatements before granting them to big businesses.

“I still have difficulty with tax abatements,” Van Buer said. “The reason I have gone along is that’s the way the game is being played right now.”

The city of DeKalb is developing a “sixth year tax abatement” in order to attract knowledge-based companies, Van Buer said.

Van Buer plans for high tech companies to help the economy grow in more ways than one.

“We are trying to focus on giving a better incentive to companies with higher skilled labor,” he said.

This would create a job market for graduates from NIU, Kishwaukee College and local residents who come back to live in DeKalb after college, Van Buer said.

Education is related to economic growth, he said.

“As a community, what we really want to do is continue building a base of human capital which means having jobs of higher skilled labor,” Van Buer said.

DeKalb Liquor Commission

The mayor also has tried to restore open leadership by reinstating the dormant DeKalb Liquor Commission.

“We have a very important responsibility to ensure we provide a level playing ground for operator’s of a hospitality industry and also that we provide adequate regulation to protect the interests of the public,” Van Buer said.

He anticipates recommendations on developing and revising city ordinances from the liquor commission soon, he said.

DeKalb City Clerk Donna Johnson said she thinks Van Buer has done great adapting to the job but it’s too early to see significant changes.

“Nothing happens quickly,” Johnson said.

But Johnson is pleased with the mayor’s attitude toward his office.

“The mayor is willing to look at different things and learn new information,” Johnson said. “He’s not afraid to admit to not knowing something.”

Johnson serves as Van Buer’s administrative assistant on the DeKalb Liquor Commission and said Van Buer is very willing to discuss anything with herself, the city attorney and the city manager before making a decision.