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Letter: Adding homes costs in the long run

Published: Friday, June 13, 2014 10:00 p.m. CDT

To the Editor:

This in response to the Daily Chronicle’s editorial of June 11, “Housing Pace Hurting Area.” While there are some short-term benefits to increasing residential housing, it generally costs local governments more than they return in taxes.

This is especially true in communities with lower family incomes such as in DeKalb County. In high income areas such as the North Shore communities of Winnetka and Wilmette, their residents contribute to the economy with greater individual income taxes and sales taxes paid.  When modest homes or apartment buildings are constructed, it usually is an added burden to local government. 

Our schools are over 60 percent of our property tax burden and adding children to the system is expensive. 

Some of the other government services that must be provided are police and fire, street maintenance, zoning and code enforcement, our county courts and jail, and health department.   

The idea that communities wave impact fees for housing developments, I believe, is a terrible idea. One needs to look at the history of housing developments in our county to see why they were imposed in the first place. For years, communities in DeKalb County overburdened our schools and services with new residents before the establishment of impact fees. Residential housing generally adds to the financial liability. 

The point that Daily Chronicle article misses is that communities need commercial and industrial growth that create jobs and also build the tax base. That type of development brings long-term prosperity to an area.

Unfortunately, only 4 percent of our tax base in DeKalb County is industrial. One can look to the Rochelle Global Intermodal Terminal to see economic growth and jobs in Ogle County.  If my memory serves me, the city of DeKalb didn’t want the rail port. In hindsight, it was a huge missed opportunity for the city of DeKalb and DeKalb County.

Stephen Reid

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