Impact fees triple for DeKalb houses

By Michael Swiontek

As a long public hearing pushed the city council meeting Monday past the four hour mark, one could sense the room’s occupants were wearing down as numbers dropped.

City staff brought forth a consideration to raise residential impact fees by more than 300 percent, and as always, that proposal stirred discussion. It took a lot of time, but the decision to pass the consideration was issued as the clock wound around toward 11 p.m.

“Tripling these fees is needed because they were pathetically low before,” said 4th Ward Council Member Donna Gorski.

The significant raise is a “reflection of how we’ve been behind the curve,” said 3rd Ward Alderman Steve Kapitan.

The consideration proposed for current impact fees on a four bedroom home to be increased from $4,800 to $18,330.

Argument from the opposition

The DeKalb County Builders and Developers Association continued the protest of what is considered to be unreasonably high impact fees.

“These are fees that our children will have to pay,” said Brian Grainger, president of the DCBDA.

DeKalb Mayor Frank Van Buer responded and a short argument followed.

“What do you do when the price of lumber goes up?” Van Buer asked.

“We accept the increase as the cost of doing business,” Grainger replied.

“Isn’t paying for schools also the cost of doing business?” Van Buer replied.

In a rarely needed motion, 5th Ward Alderman Pat Conboy asked that the meeting be extended past the deadline of 10 p.m., which no council member opposed.

The consideration to raise the impact fees passed by a 6-1 vote, with the dissenting vote coming from 7th Ward Alderman Dave Barr.

“Raising fees by 300 percent seems extreme,” Barr said. “The idea that an owner of a $200,000 home would pay the same as a $450,000 home concerns me.”

Local Tax Levy

If your home has not been reassessed there will be no increase in property taxes, said Assistant City Manager Linda Wiggins.

The levy will not fully fund the pension costs as it normally does – a 5 percent increase would be needed to cover those costs, but the city decided to absorb the cost in other ways.

A DeKalb homeowner will be taxed 60 cents on each $100 of equalized assessed value, or in practical terms, about $900 for a $150,000 home.

Compared to others in Northern Illinois, we have a relatively low tax rate, Barr said.