DeKalb residents share tax concerns at City Council


Elisa Reamer | Northern Star

From left to right: Alderperson Carolyn Morris, Barb Larson, Greg Perkins, Mayor Cohen Barnes, Alderperson Scott McAdams, and Anthony Faivre.

By Elisa Reamer

DeKALB — DeKalb City Council held a public hearing at its meeting Monday, where residents voiced their concerns on the increase of the library levy and what it means for them staying in DeKalb. 

The DeKalb City Council approved an 8% tax decrease at its Oct. 25 meeting, while City Manager Bill Nicklas brought up a 14% tax increase by the DeKalb Public Library at its Nov. 8 meeting

The 2021 library levy is $2,700,708 compared to the 2020 levy of $2,366,378, according to the Nov. 8 City Council agenda. 

Mayor Cohen Barnes said he is communicating with the library board to try and decrease this number. 

“I have family and friends that left the City of DeKalb, moved to Maple Park, Cortland and Sycamore,” DeKalb resident Mark Scott said. “They did not leave the area; they left the city because they’re claiming they cannot see any advantage to the amount of taxes they’re paying.”  

Scott said the money DeKalb residents would be saving should be going towards road repairs instead, so people can have a view of where their tax dollars are going. 

Scott does not approve of the 14% library increase as libraries are not going to last forever due to the digital age. 

“So if you’re dependent on your age 10, 20, 30 years of paying the library’s portion of your tax bill,” Scott said. “I’m sure you could put that money to better use than put it on a dead horse. It’s a slowly dying municipality. We just can’t keep paying for that.”

DeKalb resident Amie Ferraro said she loves living in DeKalb but is considering moving out of the city because of taxes. 

“We need to do everything possible to keep people here,” Ferraro said. “I don’t want to move. If you can continue to bring down the taxes, I won’t, but I talked to my neighbors, and there’s a lot of us that are going to leave.”

She asked the DeKalb City Council to hold the library fiscally responsible. 

“We need to be cognizant of the importance of fiscal responsibility, but we need to balance that with the understanding that we don’t run a library to provide a profit motive for the city,” City Clerk Sasha Cohen said. “We run it for the betterment of all the people that live here.” 

Seventh Ward Alderperson Anthony Faivre tabled to approve the ordinance on second reading to authorize the 2021 levy and collection of 2022 taxes for corporate and municipal purposes and special services area until the Dec. 13 City Council meeting. 

DeKalb to create storage lockers 

DeKalb City Council passed an ordinance 6-0 to make the DeKalb Shopping Center, 1700 Sycamore Road, formally known as Eagle Shopping Center, into a self-service storage facility. 

The space  is a 20,000-square-foot facility that has not been leased since 2015 with about 332 parking spots, Nicklas said. 

First Ward Alderperson Carolyn Morris said the self-service storage facility is a great idea and needed. 

The facility will be developed by First Midwest Group. 

“We brought you the Meijer Center on Peace Road we put up with a Starbucks up there now next to it, there’s another couple of retail spaces there,” Chief Operating Officer Mark Robinson said. “And we just built a road behind them to add more on the end, so our attention is to bring good development to the city.” 

Robinson said the self-service storage facility is the best use of the DeKalb Shopping Center. 

“We spent over a million dollars between the parking lot, the roofs and other maintenance on this building in the last couple of years,” Robinson said. “So we are dedicated to keeping it nice for the municipality.”