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DeKalb City Council approves emergency sewer line repairs

August 28, 2018

DEKALB – Crisis averted. Or at least it’s about to be.

At its regular meeting Monday night, the DeKalb City Council voted to approve up to $100,000 in spending to repair ruptured sewer lines under East Lincoln Highway, with payment split between the city’s Water Fund, the Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District, tax increment financing funds and the local businesses affected. The private sewer lines of Antique Treasures, 218 E. Lincoln Highway, and Tapa La Luna, 226 E. Lincoln Highway, connect to the ruptured pipes.

The controversial decision ended with the council voting, 7-1, to approve the spending. It hinged on a debate weighing the personal responsibility of the business owners against the collective responsibility of the city for the faults in infrastructure which potentially gave rise to the problem.

“I’m trying to save a business in downtown DeKalb,” Mayor Jerry Smith said. “I want folks to know how hard we worked as a council. And how hard it is to turn our backs on a business in downtown DeKalb.”

Antique Treasures owner Jeff Metzger made an impassioned plea for the life of his business. Metzger said Antique Treasures would have been out of business if too great a portion of the cost of the repairs were foisted on him, as 1st Ward Alderman David Jacobson – the sole naysayer in the final vote – argued for.

“If we’re looking at 30 percent [of the cost of the repairs], our building will be up for sale tomorrow,” Metzger told Jacobson. “If it goes the direction you want, there’s not a person in their right mind that would buy in DeKalb.

“You may be turning the growth completely around.”

Fortunately for Antique Treasures and the city, a more mutually beneficial decision was made. More exact estimates of the total cost of the repairs are still forthcoming. The reclamation district will supervise the repairs, and the city will then reimburse the district up to $100,000 for tax increment financing-eligible expenses including repairs to public infrastructure, the private sewer lines and within the buildings, if necessary.

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