New Council Gets a Good Start

City of DeKalb employees and the group Ellwood Historic Neighborhood have hatched a new plan just in time to take up a line item in the FY2014 budget: Buy up multi-family homes in the north 5th Ward, convert them to single-family and resell each property at a loss. In fact:

“We have worked with a local realtor and contractor to identify a willing seller of a multiunit house in the neighborhood,” said David Castro, a member of the Ellwood House Neighborhood Group, a group of residents who have worked with the city in the past to restore the area.

Council has put this plan on hold. Good for you, council members! Personally, I would, too. I agree with Ald. Jacobson that DeKalb should not get into the business of property speculation. First and foremost because it is so, so bad at it (see: empty lots downtown).

Secondly, because the Central Area TIF can’t afford all the projects they’ve budgeted for it, but must be subsidized with a few million from TIF 2 this coming fiscal year (PDF p. 116).

Thirdly, because this is a town where rehab assistance for current homeowners is badly needed, and would go so much further to improve neighborhoods than what they are proposing.

And lastly, as longtime readers already know, I do not believe in allowing private organizations to discuss how to spend taxpayers’ money without having to follow the Open Meetings Act.

Speaking of spending, does anyone know how EHN spent the $75,000 it was allocated for “streetscape” purposes? (PDF p. 115). And what about the $100,000 referred to here? (See bottom of table.)