DeKalb 2025 Strategic Plan

On February 22, 2016 City Council approved and adopted the DeKalb 2025 Strategic Plan to be a 10-year guide for City operations.  

The full plan can be found here.

This plan is a groundbreaking document for the City, as it envisions DeKalb in 2025. Not only does the plan describe the envisioned result, it also sets direction for City policy, budgeting, and program development for the next 10 years.

FY2016.5 Strategic Plan Update​


Strategic Plan Status: Informing the Community
Contributors from each City department have provided updates on strategies from the Strategic Plan that were outlined during the FY2016.5 budget process. On Monday, November 14, 2016, City staff provided a Strategic Plan update to the City Council at its Committee of the Whole meeting. A total of 51 action items were identified for FY2016.5. Three (6%) of these items have been achieved, 47 (92%) are on track, and one (2%) are at risk. A summary of the updates from July 1, 2016 to October 31, 2016 is provided below, and the full list of detailed updates on FY2016.5 action items can be found here.

The City has taken significant steps thus far toward the Vision of a Sense of Place. These steps include:
  • On July 28, 2016, the City previewed a marketing video at the Chamber of Commerce State of the City breakfast, an important step in the City’s effort for positive messaging.
  • City Staff attended eight civic events to promote the City including a Greek House meeting, education consortium, Senior Expo, DeKalb County Annual Senior Luncheon, and a Northern Illinois University (NIU) Safety Awareness Presentation.
  • The City has diligently been taking actions to identify and connect with underrepresented populations in the community. The Community Development Department is collaborating with DeKalb Community Action Agency to develop a long range program to meet social service needs of the residents in University Village.
  • The Police Department has participated in over 11 community policing events including, a “Bike Rodeo” with the DeKalb Park District, National Night Out (along with the DeKalb Fire Department), a “Coffee with the Chief” at Lincoln Inn, and NIU Safety Night.
  • The City has begun using art and culture to define and celebrate the community by participating in planning and publicizing of the First Annual DeKalb Fall Arts Walk in October 2016.
  • Entryway corridors into the City were enhanced by replacing more than 100 signs on Annie Glidden Road from Dresser Road to Lincoln Highway. These signs are now compliant with Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) reflectivity standards.
  • The City has taken action to bridge the university with the City with its recent development of the NIU Student Leaders Affairs Work Group. The group serves as a professional liaison for student issues and City policies, while also functioning as a productive outlet for student voices and concerns.

The City has also made great progress toward the Vision of a Community Vitality and a Vibrant Downtown. Steps toward this vision include:
  • In effort to better support initiatives by DeKalb business owners, City staff in the Community Development Department host monthly meetings with the Downtown businesses to discuss upcoming collaborations, infrastructure projects, and business assistance resources.
  • The Crime Free Housing and Inspections Bureau has made great strides in targeting unsafe and problem properties for blight removal and remediation. Compliance has been attained at buildings in the 600 block of E. Lincoln Highway, 921 State Street, 239 W. Locust, 1411 Clark Street, and a neighborhood in the 1300 block of N. 14th Street.
  • The DeKalb Police Department and Fire Department attended over 35 events thus far to encourage community-based public safety engagement strategies.

The City has also been working towards the Vision of Inclusiveness. Accomplishments include:
  • City staff attended multi-cultural events throughout the City including the Black Male Initiative baseball tournament, Safe Passage’s Domestic Violence Vigil, Veterans Motorcycle Motorcade, Connexion Communidad Block Party, and the Special Olympics fundraiser at Texas Roadhouse.
  • The City has started to review and adjust City policies, practices, and programs to ensure inclusiveness. The City has launched a new software system, NEOGOV Insight, to improve the hiring process for job seekers. NEOGOV Insight allows candidates to complete a job interest notification card allowing a proactive and efficient source of communication between the candidate and City. Candidates will have the opportunity to select positions of interest and receive e-mail notifications when an opening occurs. This feature will aid the City in the reduction of advertising expenses, enhancement of communications with the candidate pool and the reduction of candidates’ continual need to check for opportunities.
  • The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners (BFPC) and Human Resources Department staff updated the BFPC Rules and Regulations in order to streamline the Police and Fire Entry Level recruitment process. The new procedure shortens the recruitment process by three months, saves the City over $3,000 in written examination costs, and increases efficiency, candidate’s poll and diversity outreach.

The City has also taken significant steps toward the Vision of Accessibility. Accomplishments thus far include:

  • Dedication of members from the Active Transportation Initiative of Live Healthy DeKalb County and City staff began the application process in February 2016 for the League of American Bicyclists award. The application was submitted on August 16, 2016, and the announcement of the award is anticipated in November. Staff anticipates the award will be critical in obtaining grant funds for future bicycle and Complete Streets projects.
  • In addition, Transportation Planner Brian Dickson will be submitting an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation seeking money from the Transportation Investment Generation Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The grant funds would go toward the DeKalb County Multimodal Transportation Facility and give the Voluntary Action Center room to store and maintain the City's bus fleet.

The City has taken significant steps thus far toward the Vision of Efficient, Quality, and Responsive Services. These steps include:

  • The City has taken action to replace aging and unsafe fleet and equipment. The City has sold two aging squad cars with 150,000 miles, is finalizing bid specs for a new street-sweeper, and published an RFP for two new ambulances. In addition, the City is incorporating a five-year Capital Fleet and Equipment Plan with the FY2017 budget.
  • In addition to the AchieveIt software, staff has taken additional steps to align City operations and performance with the Strategic Plan. The City Manager's Office unveiled the City of DeKalb Core Values to staff and initiated implementation of imagery into work spaces and common areas. This summer, Public Works Director Tim Holdeman worked with each Public Works Division Superintendent to identify specific performance measure to align work assignments with the City’s goals.
  • The City has worked diligently to also identify cost-sharing and cost-reduction opportunities through intergovernmental cooperation. A co-policing effort was initiated between the DeKalb Police Department and NIU Police Department to help prevent and suppress crime in the Zone 1 police area of DeKalb that surrounds NIU. Public Works Director Tim Holdeman, Utility Superintendent Bryan Faivre and Street Superintendent Mark Espy met with NIU Vice President for Facilities Management and Campus Services John Heckmann and several of his staff to discuss opportunities for shared services.
  • The City’s human resource practices have also been greatly improved. The City’s existing personnel policies were reviewed in light of new or updated State and Federal employment legislation and to further address additional areas of legal and operational compliance. This resulted in the creation of the City’s new Personnel Manual and Benefits Handbook which were approved by City Council and became effective on September 26, 2016. Training for employees began during the last week of October and will continue into November.
  • The City has also been working to better inform residents about topics of interest in the community. To assist in that effort, the Public Works Department is working to implement a department-wide communication plan.

Key Plan Elements​


Mission Statement​

A mission statement is a short description of the reason an organization or program exists. Mission statements help guide decisions about priorities, responsibilities, and actions, and as such are at the core of a strategic plan. Following is the mission of DeKalb City government developed as part of this collaborative community planning process:

Deliver high quality municipal services
to those who live, work, learn in
or visit our community

Core Values 

Core values are beliefs or convictions that guide and direct behavior and support purpose and vision. The City of DeKalb will utilize the following core values to guide its actions, shape the culture of city government, and form the basis of its standards-based performance review process.

• Integrity: The state of being honest, fair, and ethical in every situation, even if it’s unpopular.
• Professionalism: Serving with the highest level of respect, skill, and judgment in each situation.
• Excellence: The expectation of engaging in outstanding levels of performance.
• Service: Providing City services at the highest level for the advancement of the community.
• Collaboration: Working together to benefit from the resources, knowledge, wisdom and understanding of others.
• Accountability: Taking responsibility for our decisions and actions while doing everything possible to achieve the desired results.

Vision Statements 

Vision statements complement the mission by describing the future state of the community if the mission were fully realized. DeKalb's vision statements, which are complemented in the plan with detailed goals, strategies and actions, are as follows:

Vision of a Sense of Place
DeKalb is proudly known as a welcoming, safe, and vibrant
city offering economic, educational, social, cultural, and
recreational opportunities for everyone.

Vision of Community Vitality and a Vibrant Downtown 
DeKalb’s neighborhoods, the downtown, and NIU’s campus are
interconnected in a dynamic interplay of energy and creativity
that retains and attracts businesses with living-wage jobs.

Vision of Inclusiveness
Diversity is valued and celebrated, with
all people treated with dignity, equity
and respect.

Vision of Accessibility
DeKalb’s diverse and integrated transportation network provides
a wide variety of local and regional transportation options in an
efficient and user friendly manner.

Vision of Efficient, Quality, Responsive Services
Through sound fiscal stewardship and collaboration with
community stakeholders, City government identifies and
coordinates the resources needed to sustain a vibrant DeKalb.

To learn about the goals, strategies and actions associated with each vision statement, see the full plan

Next Steps for the Plan


The completed DeKalb 2025 Strategic Plan will guide the City’s annual investments, program and policy priorities, and performance reporting for the foreseeable future. The City will use the annual budgeting process to prioritize implementation activities based on need and available resources. City staff will implement a detailed tracking system to monitor and report progress with quarterly updates to Council.

Regular opportunities to revisit the plan will be provided to ensure that people who live, work, and/or attend school in DeKalb are able to comment on plan priorities and progress. The efforts of all of DeKalb’s leaders will be needed to encourage and support public participation in this ongoing planning process.

A Review of the Planning Process​


Community Collaboration 

 To help inform the strategic planning process, an extensive community engagement effort was conducted from May through July of 2015 to capture the opinions and ideas about the future of DeKalb from people who live, work, and/or learn in the city.

In total, information was received by 321 people who attended a conversation cafe (including those who attended multiple conversations), 91 who completed a survey, and two additional sets of emailed comments. Northern Illinois University’s (NIU’s) Center for Governmental Studies (CGS), provided facilitation for this planning process, organized and summarized this information, and shared it with City staff so they could provide additional input. A preliminary strategic planning framework was presented to the City Council and approved in late August 2015.

Building the Framework 

From September to early November 2015, senior City staff devoted significant time to translating the strategic planning framework into an operational document by adding strategies and actions. A number of these were drawn from specific suggestions made during the conversation cafes, some reflected a continuation of the work begun in previous years, and others were identified by department heads to advance the vision and goals that emerged from this process.

Given the 10-year time horizon, considerable efforts were made to ensure that the strategies and actions were comprehensive and forward-thinking.


Questions regarding the City's strategic planning process can be directed to the DeKalb City Manager's Office at 815-748-2090.  

The Planning Process​


Community Collaboration 

 To help inform the strategic planning process, an extensive community engagement effort was condu
DeKalb Park