DeKalb City Council approves library levy abatement

Mayor proclaims DeKalb is welcome to residents of any immigration status

A patron leaves the the DeKalb Public Library Wednesday Feb. 28. Mark Busch - mbusch@shawmedia.com[]

DeKALB – Now that the DeKalb Public Library finally has received the remaining $1.1 million in construction costs owed from the state, the DeKalb City Council unanimously approved the abatement of the library’s 2017 property tax levy to its 2014 tax rate Monday.

This fulfills a 2015 commitment from the library board to abate the levy, which was increased to afford a roughly $4.5 million bank loan when the state failed to pay its share of construction funding for the library’s new building because of the budget impasse, once the state money came in.

The library board also had agreed during a special meeting earlier this month to rebate taxpayers for the loan funding incurred during the time the state funding was not received. DeKalb Finance Director Molly Talkington said the city will be working with the library board on how to issue checks to taxpayers, which is targeted for this summer.

Second Ward Alderman Bill Finucane congratulated the library board on completing the task and asked to move forward on this issue.

“It’s been quite a cycle over the last two months,” Finucane said.

Although this matter has been the subject of a lot of public outcry, it was not the reason the council chambers of the DeKalb Municipal Building were overflowing during the meeting.

Dozens of advocates for the city’s immigrant population were in attendance to hear Mayor Jerry Smith proclaim the city of DeKalb as a welcoming community for residents regardless of national origin or immigration status.

“I, Jerry Smith, as Mayor of the City of DeKalb, Illinois, do hereby proclaim that DeKalb shall continue to be a welcoming city for all its residents, regardless of national origin or immigration status; that precious local resources shall not be expended in the furtherance of enforcement goals that are appropriately the responsibility of the federal government; and that our unequivocal support of dignity and respect for all people in the City of DeKalb shall be made clear to all our communities,” the proclamation read.

Last year, DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery released a statement that federal authorities would have the primary responsibility to enforce immigration laws, and that the DeKalb Police Department will not take enforcement action based solely on anyone’s immigration status.