DeKalb faces reclassification as Chicago suburb

By Rich Bruen

There is a very good chance that DeKalb County will soon be considered a suburb of Chicago.

Roger Hopkins, director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, said the Federal Office of Management and Budget is considering adding DeKalb County to the Chicago metropolitan area, based on 1990 census data.

The criterion for this classification is 15 percent or greater commuting percentage of people out of the county to the Chicago metropolitan area, Hopkins said.

“In the 1990 census, we had a 19.4 percent outflow into the Chicago area and a 27 percent total outflow rate,” he said.

DeKalb, if reclassified, would join the so-called collar counties such as Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane, Will and Grundy, he said.

Hopkins also said many area residents are concerned about the possible governmental regulations which may come with the reclassification, mainly in the areas of air pollution and agricultural programs.

“The attitude is that we’re growing at a much more modest pace than Kane or Kendall county so why should we be punished for modest growth?” he said.

However, according to DeKalb City Planner Jim Hogue, all of the implications he has found thus far seem to be positive. Hogue was asked to look into the matter by DeKalb Mayor Greg Sparrow.

“The only differences (by being reclassified) I can see are two benefits,” he said. “First, we’d get more name recognition and second, we may get the opportunity to compete for more federal tax dollars in transportation development and housing taxes.”

“It appears right now to be a good thing,” Hogue added.

The DeKalb City Council will decide whether to look further into the matter at its Monday meeting, he said.

Hopkins said that the Federal Office of Management and Budget would decide on the matter in mid-December and has the power to reclassify the county without any further discussion.