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DeKalb celebrates housing ordinances, new police station

Published: Friday, Dec. 28, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

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DeKALB – DeKalb leaders have talked about improving city housing.

And talked.

And talked.

And talked.

But 2012 was the year City Council members tossed some ideas from the Safe and Quality Housing Task Force and codified others into ordinances. They also decided to build a new police station.

“After 10-plus years of debate and consideration, we finally got the police station under way,” City Manager Mark Biernacki said. “After 2 years of discussion and debate, we got those housing ordinances now adopted.”

Leaders named those two projects as their biggest accomplishment for the year, while noting new leadership could provide the biggest changes in the coming year.

The DeKalb City Council voted to borrow $12.25 million in October to pay for the construction of the new police station at 700 W. Lincoln Highway. The city will pay back the money over 19 years.

Once the new police station is finished, the public works and information technology departments will move back into City Hall at 200 S. Fourth St. Those departments are currently located across the street at 223 S. Fourth St.

Biernacki, 2nd Ward Alderman Tom Teresinski, and 4th Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher each said they felt the city is on the right track heading into the new year.

In November, the City Council signed off on a variety of housing ordinances that should improve the quality of housing in the city. The ordinances are designed to increase the accountability of renters and landlords.

“This whole housing safety issue – I think it was a huge step forward,” Teresinski said.

The three of them also noted how the city’s financial situation has improved. Gallagher said when he first joined the council in 2009, a little more than $20,000 sat in the city’s general fund balance.

Now, the fund balance is approaching $4 million.

The new year will be a time of transition for the City Council.

Teresinski, Gallagher and Mayor Kris Povlsen are not running for re-election in April. Meanwhile, no one filed a petition to run for city clerk by Wednesday’s deadline, so the new City Council will have to appoint one.

Four people filed candidate petitions for mayor: former Ag/Monsanto employee John Rey, DeKalb School District 428 Board member Mike Verbic, former Re:New DeKalb executive director Jennifer Groce, and 1st Ward Alderman David Jacobson. They will be on the ballot provided they survive any objections to their petitions.

Running for Teresinski’s seat are Bill Finucane and Stephen Clark. Robert Snow and James Mitchell are hoping to replace Gallagher.

The candidates hope to build a better relationship with Northern Illinois University, which also is undergoing a leadership change. NIU President John Peters announced in September that he is stepping down in June. A presidential search committee has been established.

“It opens the door to some new vision and enhanced partnership with the city,” Teresinski said.

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