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DeKalb City Council to address security concerns

Published: Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – DeKalb aldermen will discuss security at the DeKalb Municipal Building in light of the police department moving to its own location.

“With court in session here on Monday mornings and police no longer in the building, security is a concern,” interim City Manager Rudy Espiritu said.

The City Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting starts at 5 p.m. today at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St.

The police department vacated its offices in City Hall on Nov. 22 when it moved to a new police station at 700 W. Lincoln Highway. Leading up to the move, Espiritu said there were several discussions about security. He also noted that City Hall always has served as a tornado shelter and warming and cooling center.

“We need to look at how those things will be addressed,” he said.

Jennifer Diedrich, the city’s economic development coordinator, said the city has about $6 million available in tax increment financing funds to renovate City Hall.

City Hall is in a TIF district, a mechanism in which the city diverts property tax money into a special account to rehabilitate blighted areas. TIF money cannot be used to build a new public building, but it can be used to remodel an existing one.

“We’ve been discussing moving everyone over here from the annex across the street,” Diedrich said. The public works and information technology departments are located across the street from City Hall at 223 S. Fourth St.

Early discussions also include moving council chambers, where court is held on Mondays, from the second floor to the first. Public Works Director T.J. Moore said another option would be to move the courtroom/council chambers across the street to the annex.

Moore said an architectural assessment of the building was done in 2012. He said any renovation plans are a matter of setting priorities.

“What are the goals we want to accomplish?” Moore asked. “We’re working with a building that opened in 1967 and our expectations have changed in 2013.”

Some of the problems that need to be addressed include outdated heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; single-pane windows; a lack of cabling for computer and electrical uses; and improving water service.

“I wouldn’t want to put a specific time burden on these renovations,” Moore said. “I would rather have good decisions than quick decisions.”

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