Archive for the ‘ TIF ’ Category

**UPDATE 11/24** Via email, the city still maintains that the redaction “facially” applied to its FOIA response. However:

[A]fter further discussion with the Police Department, we believe that the Resident Officer Program’s mission is furthered by engaging with the public wherever possible, and where doing so does not endanger public or officer safety. Accordingly, the City is providing an un-redacted copy of the record at issue as per your request.

Whether or not I would have prevailed in the state’s review of the redaction, the reversal is a good reminder that most exceptions to FOIA — assuming they’re properly applied — are allowed but not commanded.

The City of Elgin has a nationally recognized community policing endeavor called the Resident Officer Program of Elgin (ROPE). Here’s the webpage. Links from that webpage take you to a map of ROPE coverage, as well as to pages devoted to each of five ROPE officer locations that include the resident officers’ photos, contact information and introductory greetings.

Oak Park has a Resident Beat Officer Program (RBO). Here’s the webpage. There are eight patrol zones; click on zone headings for the beat officers’ names, photos and contact information.

City of DeKalb has a Resident Officer Program (ROP). Here’s the webpage. The description identifies an Officer Burke who lives on the 600 block of North Eleventh Street, and there is a written description of the ROP territory. There is no map, no address, no photo or contact information for this or any other officer.

Part of this is about how much DeKalb’s $50,000+ website sucks, but there’s more to it. On Friday, I received an email from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer that read, “As you may know, the City utilizes multiple police officers in its Resident Officer Program (ROP).”

No, I did not know that. How could I? The city’s website mentions exactly one resident officer, and there’s nothing in the Chronicle archives, either. Unlike those of other communities I looked up, there is virtually no current public information about this supposedly extensive public program.

Indeed, what I found were a couple articles published three years ago, when Officer Burke moved into a home that City of DeKalb purchased and renovated with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds (an arrangement the city refers to as “enhanced” ROP). Read the rest of this entry

The following is a production of


Note: Strong Towns is not responsible for any mental duress resulting from repeated watching of this video. We are also not responsible for angry reactions from planners and engineers confronted with the illogic of their world view. If watching as part of a group, we recommend having a padded room or some type of physical restraint system available to keep those that develop a temporary feeling of hopelessness from doing damage to themselves or others.

As DeKalb tries to figure out how to come up with $6 million a year more to repair our neglected streets without chasing out more of our population, there are ways to put together better answers. For our city, it means a major shift away from its Edifice Complex (public spending on buildings that don’t contribute to the tax base) and development of a grownup’s appreciation for basic infrastructure.

The numbers are the amounts budgeted for streets combining two line items, Street Maintenance/Repairs (8632) and Street Construction/Reconstruction (8633). It does not include alleys or permanent street improvements (e.g., Taylor Street widening).

Keep in mind, what’s budgeted may not always reflect what’s spent, either.

Fiscal YearCapital
Motor FuelTIF 1TIF 2Totals


  • The Motor Fuel Tax Fund is taking a dive.

  • Overall funding of street repairs and reconstruction has dropped significantly.

  • TIF 2 has only just recently become a major funder of street reconstruction.

  • Now I’ll explain what has happened in three parts.

    Part 1: The Motor Fuel Tax Fund used to hold both the state and local (home rule) motor fuel taxes, but the city was having trouble keeping up with other infrastructure needs and began placing the local portion into the Capital Projects Fund, where it has to compete with other projects besides road-related ones. (DeKalb has also dedicated some local motor fuel tax funds to the Public Safety Building Fund.)

    Part 2: The city doesn’t dare budget more for streets from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund because it doesn’t know how much is in it. Here’s the explanation from the FY2015 budget narrative:

    This fund has some outstanding obligations due to outstanding bills from past construction projects in the amount of approximately $1.0 million dollars. The City will also receive $198,673.00 from the Illinois Jobs Now Capital Bill. The balance in this fund is attributed to the outstanding obligations of projects that have not been closed out. These outstanding obligations amount to an estimated $1,888,455.73. Once the Illinois Department of Transportation completes the audit of this fund a greater understanding of the actual amount available will be determined.

    Part 3: TIF 2 can be used to catch up/make up for/cover up for the lack of funding to streets now that the fund has accumulated a $7 million nest egg for remodeling the city hall building.

    Related posts:

    So DeKalb Has a Streets Problem — Is TIF or a Sales Tax Hike the Answer?

    FAC Using the Faulty Street Repair Numbers Too

    In July 2013, the city council of DeKalb approved the DeKalb City Center plan, an update of the 2007 Downtown Revitalization Plan.

    One of the key components of the plan is:

    Leverage TIF to study the feasibility of and potentially promote the development of additional City Center traffic generators, such as a hotel/conference center, children’s museum, bowling alley, movie theater, or additional dining and entertainment options[.]

    Except that by the time the plan was approved, DeKalb had already begun leveraging TIF to study the feasibility of a downtown hotel and convention center.

    And had already begun negotiating with a developer.

    And was already talking about helping to close a “feasibility gap” with public funds.

    Why haven’t you heard about this? It’s because of the city manager’s spending authority. The city manager can authorize up to $20,000 in spending without going to the city council for approval. In the case of the hotel/convention center, the first study — dated January 2013 — cost $12,000. A supplement was completed this year for $7,500.

    How convenient.

    You can look at some of the documents, obtained through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, at the City Barbs Blog Facebook Group.

    This week’s number: $33 million

    The city’s streets could need $33 million in repairs over the next five years, but a key funding source for the work will dry up by the end of the decade.

    That has city leaders considering options including increasing the sales tax to generate more revenue.

    Of the $1.5 million the city plans to spend on streets this year, $1 million comes from the city’s two tax increment financing districts. TIF districts allow the city to divert property tax money into a special account that is used to rehabilitate blighted areas.

    However, one of the city’s TIF districts expires in 2018, while the other will expire in 2020, meaning the only source of funding left will be the local gas tax.

    The above account is incorrect and incomplete. Let me count the ways. Read the rest of this entry

    Let’s start with a summary of events.

    — The group now known as Preserve Our Neighborhoods (PON) was formed last spring in response to concerns that residents were not being included in DeKalb-NIU redevelopment plans that would directly affect them.

    — Misty Haji-Sheikh of PON received unsigned documents from an anonymous sender regarding a corporation formed for the purpose of redeveloping the John Street neighborhood.

    — The corporation, College Town Partners, was of public interest because NIU and City of DeKalb were named as partners in documents related to its purpose and operations.

    — Haji-Sheikh asked NIU and City of DeKalb for documents related to College Town Partners under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). DeKalb denied her some of the information under an exemption to FOIA for preliminary drafts/proposals.

    — Haji-Sheikh requested that the Attorney General’s Office of Public Access review DeKalb’s denial of information to ensure the city has used the FOIA exemption properly. The AG accepted this Request for Review.

    — City of DeKalb responded to the AG’s request to provide the legal basis for using the FOIA exemption(s) but in an unusual move the city asked for — and received — blanket confidentiality of its response.

    — Haji-Sheikh is allowed under the review process to respond to the city’s response and she did so even though she hasn’t been allowed to read it.

    Michael Haji-Sheikh has provided Misty’s response to the AG via Twitter. Read the rest of this entry

    This is an item from the May 27 council meeting agenda that I’ve been meaning to address.

    It’s about a water main project on South 4th Street.

    This project would have abandoned a 6” water main on the west side of Route 23 (South Fourth Street) from Lacas Street south to approximately 110 feet south of Charter Street. There are approximately twenty services that would have been be disconnected from the 6” main on the west side of Route 23 and be reconnected to the 8” main on the east side.

    The project was already coordinated with the Illinois Department of Transportation, which is planning to resurface Route 23. It does make sense to do the underground work first if possible.

    However, at the May 27 council meeting the one proposal sent in was rejected. Read the rest of this entry

    **Update 2:15 p.m.: The Daily Chronicle has posted the Memorandum of Understanding referred to in the press release. Don’t miss the confidentiality rules (Item 16) on page 7.**

    The following is a press release from the Preserve Our Neighborhoods group, the organization that sparked a recent town-hall style meeting to clear the air on the city’s and NIU’s redevelopment plans. Read the rest of this entry

    The Daily Chronicle has come out against the proposed Sycamore Road TIF District, pointing to Mayor Rey’s recent comment that two developers are interested in one of the properties even with no incentives.

    So why bring tax increment financing into the equation? It certainly might give the city some more money it can spend on projects of its choosing, but it doesn’t appear necessary here.

    For one thing, I think maybe NIU has gotten the idea that the city is going to fix up one of its buildings. TIF in DeKalb has ALWAYS been about generating slush for pet projects.

    But tax increment financing is supposed to be used to encourage development in areas that need it, not just to generate revenue for City Hall to spend.

    The South Fourth Street corridor needs redevelopment, no question. But the South Fourth plan is a horrible plan. In fact, both of the TIF proposals are bad, as in ill-conceived and lazy. The TIF consultant should be fired and the Joint Review Board publicly shamed for its lack of proper oversight.

    I’m glad to hear that the city council is questioning these TIF proposals and I hope at some point this body also sees the need to review and reform how TIF plays out in DeKalb.

    November 25 Council Agenda

    The city has put up another meeting agenda for tomorrow that’s a revision of the original, so all you early birds will have to read the new one. However, keep the old one handy because they didn’t include the rest of the packet with the revision.


    Item 1: Another hit to the Public Safety Building Fund.

    I. Summary:
    With the Police Department having effected a move to the new Police Station on West Lincoln Highway, an unanticipated need has arisen for additional communications equipment to ensure officer and public safety within the Building.

    II. Background:
    The new police station was designed for a high degree of security, with extensive use of steel, concrete and concrete block. The qualities of those materials that make them strong and durable also make them resistant to radio wave transmission. In short, the design and construction of the building hampers the ability of police officers to utilize their two-way mobile radios when within the building, or to hear radio traffic and respond to public safety emergencies or request assistance when within the building.

    The solution to this issue is to install a bi-directional antenna system within the building that will permit direct communications with officers. The cost of this system exceeds $20,000; however, it is an urgent public safety issue that requires an immediate response and the equipment required is from a sole-source provider that has been working on the balance of the radio communication system. For both of these reasons, staff requests that the Council waive competitive bidding and award a contract to Dixon Ottawa in an aggregate amount not to exceed $25,000.

    How much did the first communications system cost? Can we get our money back? Could this problem have been anticipated? How many more errors will it take to annihilate the budget? Read the rest of this entry