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DeKalb housing ordinances get final OK

DeKALB – The city of DeKalb gave final approval to its set of housing ordinances Monday night, setting the fees and staffing levels necessary to carry them out.

The city will hire a mixture of full-time and part-time staff to implement the various housing ordinances, which include measures such as annual registration of landlords and requiring all tenants to not commit illegal activities in their apartments.

To fund the four staffers (three of which are full-time, and two are inspectors), the city will charge rental properties $50 a building and $15.24 a rental unit for three or more units. This would amount to $227,000 in fees. The city will chip in $57,000 of its own money, bringing the total cost of the program to $284,000.

Mayor Kris Povlsen and four aldermen signed off on the fee proposal and the ordinances’ second reading, making the votes the final action.

Aldermen David Jacobson and Monica O’Leary, of the First and Seventh Wards, respectively, voted against the funding/staffing proposal as well as the ordinances’ final reading. Sixth Ward Alderman Dave Baker was not at the meeting.

City Manager Mark Biernacki previously asked the council to establish a five-member housing bureau, the cost of which would be split between the city’s general revenue fund and registration fees.

But there was no consensus on this issue, forcing Biernacki to come up with three other options the aldermen debated Monday night.

For their part, the DeKalb Area Renters Association declared their opposition to all of the funding options possible.

“It puts almost the whole cost of the program on the backs of rental properties,” said Jim Morel, president of DARA and a landlord. Morel advocated that any inspection program should be funded by the city’s general revenue fund.

“As we have said before, the benefits and enforcement of these ordinances should apply equally across the community,” Morel said. “Therefore, the cost should be applied evenly across the tax base.”

Both DARA and the council gave their support to mandatory crime-free lease addendums, crime-free training for the landlords, a “three strikes” disorderly house provision, and a sidewalk exterior inspection program.

Aldermen Tom Teresinski, Ronald Naylor, and Brendon Gallagher, of the Second, Fifth and Fourth Wards, respectively, were major proponents of the funding proposal the council adopted.

“We need the ability to ensure what we’re putting in place is strongly enforced,” Teresinski said, noting other communities have similar programs in place.

Monday night’s vote closes the book on a discussion the council began nearly two years ago. A housing task force was formed, which eventually created the ordinances the council approved.

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