Archive for February, 2012

If you have an item you’d like included on your township’s 2012 annual meeting agenda, you must submit it by March 1. Illinois township meetings will be held April 10. For more information, visit the official website of the Township Officials of Illinois.

RIP Without the Inspections

Once upon a time (2008, actually) the City of DeKalb contemplated a massive licensing and inspection plan for rental properties (PDF pp. 15-32) called the Rental Inspection Program, or RIP.

The proposed fee schedule for the RIP (PDF pp. 19-20) began at $78 for a building of 1-5 rental units for annual licensing and inspection. Two landlord demonstrations later, it was dead.

Then yesterday at the Safe/Quality Housing Task Force we saw that the city had revived the following piece of the Municipal Code (emphasis added):

a) Every landlord must register with the City of DeKalb within one hundred twenty (120) days of the effective date of this Chapter. The registration shall specify every rental unit and further provide complete information required on the registration form. Every landlord must ensure that the information contained in the registration form is maintained on a current basis, providing timely updated information when it changes. Every landlord must designate and register a local agent, above eighteen (18) years of age, who resides within DeKalb County and is authorized to receive process for any legal proceeding initiated to enforce the provisions of this Chapter. A one-time registration fee per unit will be Three Dollars ($3.00). Any landlord who rents a rental unit that has not been registered with the City will be subject to a minimum fine of Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00) per subject property.

In the new draft ordinance, the registration fee becomes annual and begins at “$25 per rental unit or $75 per structure, whichever is greater.”

A few of the landlords tried at different points to ask for a justification of the cost, but were ignored.

You know, sometimes I’ve said to myself, “yinn, perhaps you are wrong about the Task Force being the vehicle for reintroduction of the dollar-riffic RIP.” And I guess I am wrong; they aren’t even pretending this is about a RIP to keep renters safe anymore. It’s just a Naked. Money. Grab.

Incidentally, the city miked up the Task Force yesterday and broadcast the meeting. I choose to think the DeKalb Area Rental Association embarrassed them into it. Your mileage may vary.

[Update 1 added 2/23/2012 after the jump.]
[Update 2 added 2/24/2010]

Click on either image to access larger versions.

I’ll note additions to this post, if any, at the City Barbs Blog Facebook page as well.

Read the rest of this entry

Hello DARA

The DeKalb Area Rental Association (DARA) formed last summer has recently launched its website, called

It’s probably safe to say it’s not a coincidence in timing that DARA was conceived just a few months after the mayor first appointed his Safe/Quality Housing Task Force, and easy to see DARA’s formation at least partly as a defensive measure against the suspected return of the Rental Inspection Program agenda.

However, DARA is already more than an “anti” group. The organization is establishing Building Watch on multi-unit properties, has recently hosted a public meeting about Building Watch with DeKalb police, and is aiming to dovetail these efforts with existing Neighborhood Watch activities.

DARA has also taken upon itself the task of video recording Task Force meetings. A member tells me the recordings will be uploaded to YouTube and linked to the DARA website for easy public access.

The Safe/Quality Housing Task Force will next meet February 28 from 4-6 p.m. in the Municipal Building, council chambers.

Illinois Sen. Dan Duffy has filed this month SB3392, a bill that would require local governments with websites to post much more than many currently do.

New requirements under the proposed legislation include putting online information regarding employee compensation, bids and contracts, which are documents typically sought under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Systematic uploading of documents eliminates the need for citizens and organizations to submit FOIA requests to obtain them.

The proposed legislation would essentially codify the 10-Point Transparency Checklist for government websites developed by the Illinois Policy Institute and lauded by the Sunlight Foundation.

The new rules would apply only to local governments with websites and full-time staff to maintain them.

Supporters of the new bill are looking for additional co-sponsors. Please consider asking your state representatives to sign on to SB3392.

The online consensus is that there have been many residents who SHOULD have been removed from city council meetings for disruptions or going over the time limit, but the one instance where the current mayor of DeKalb has the police remove anybody it’s when three students come to question the decision to place the new police station across the street from the Center for Black Studies.

Consensus also says each of the three students should have gotten three minutes to comment.

Alorton is an Illinois village near East St. Louis of about 3,000 people, a median household income that is roughly the same as DeKalb’s per capita income and a median home value of $47,000. Its government is being investigated by the feds for “systemic corruption.”

Some village officials have been indicted. The mayor hasn’t been charged with anything, though his home was raided last month:

McCallum said [after the raid in January] federal agents told him they were looking for documents related to tax increment financing.

Agents took boxes and several safes from the McCallum home and the Village Hall. The agents searched outside the home where a boat was parked under a carport, inside a garage where a silver Hummer was parked, and inside a white truck that was parked on the lot and all around the house.

The publication hasn’t shared what McCallum’s day job is. He resigned from office Monday over being too busy to do the mayor’s job anymore.

By the way, Mayor McCallum tendered his resignation publicly, to the Alorton Village Board. That’s more consideration than what we’ve been getting lately. Read the rest of this entry

New Per Capita Debt Numbers

[Update 8:30 a.m.: Table headers edited for clarity.]

You’ve seen most of this table before. I’ve updated it with FY2011 data from the new Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Fiscal YearPer Capita
Gross Bonded
Debt, City of
DeKalb Debt
Per Capita
Gross Bonded
Overlapping Units
of Government
Total Per
Capita Gross
Bonded Debt
Owed by City
of DeKalb

Most of the overlapping increase came from DeKalb Community Unit School District 428.

Mind you, these figures reflect only gross bonded debt. The total per capita city debt burden for DeKalb residents, for example, was $929.28 as of June 30, 2011.

Gross bonded debt gets special attention because repayment is guaranteed by property taxes. If a governmental unit does not have enough money to make the payments, property taxes get raised as required to meet them.

DeKalb is unusual, Read the rest of this entry

Growth of OPEB Participation

Among its 2009 financial recommendations to the City of DeKalb, Executive Partners, Inc. warned that the costs of DeKalb’s retiree health and life insurance plan, known as Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB), would continue to outpace contributions “to infinity.” EPI recommended the city jettison the program ASAP.

In confronting the continued growth of what was already at the time an unfunded liability of nearly $30 million, the city council discussed the options in joint meetings with its financial advisory committee. One of the things that came out in these discussions was that the city is making contributions for all its retirees, not just those with whom it had a contractual obligation to do so. Even retirees from the DeKalb Public Library can participate.

I had gotten the impression during those discussions that DeKalb had included all retirees in the OPEB for generations.

Fiscal YearNo. of Beneficiaries
of Police/Fire Pension
No. of Beneficiaries

I was wrong.


May 2009 EPI Report and Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports from the City of DeKalb Downloads page

Let’s Try This Again

First I said the city clerk issues liquor licenses in DeKalb. Then I said he didn’t. The second appears to be correct BUT that does not mean the city clerk has nothing to do with the license. I visited a DeKalb establishment today and checked out the liquor license while there. Renewed in August 2011, it was signed not just by the mayor but also by the city clerk, Steve Kapitan, and it has the Seal of the City of DeKalb on it.

Apparently, then, there must be some sort of requirement (State of Illinois?) for the city clerk to sign and to cause to be affixed to the document the Seal of the City of DeKalb, whether or not such a requirement appears in Chapter 38 or not.

Hope this clarifies things a bit.