Half of DeKalb is Doing Well Enough to Compare to Others

The agenda for last night’s joint meeting between DeKalb city council members and the city’s Finance (sic) Advisory Committee included a list of 14 communities besides DeKalb and their “comparable economic data.”

The argument seems to be that DeKalb taxpayers can afford to pay more in property taxes than the “bargain” they are currently getting relative to residents of other towns.

The comps had DeKalb’s median family income as $61,806. I laughed.

Don’t get me wrong — DeKalb’s median family income really is $61,806.

But you only come up with that figure if you leave more than half of DeKalb’s households out of the calculation.

I was quickly able to find the $61,806 figure in a table of selected 2012 demographic data at QuickFacts.census.gov. This is where I also found the rest of the story.

Here’s DeKalb:
[table id=87 /]

You can see why city staff used median family income — it’s a much larger number than the alternative, median household income. But using median family meant the city had to exclude a whopping 51.3% of households. How is that accurate or fair?

In response I’ve collected additional data for your consideration, seen below. When it comes to median household income and per capita income, DeKalb comes in dead last in this crowd.

Tell us more about what we can afford, dear City of DeKalb.

[table id=89 /]