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Homewood Trustees Disagree On New Restaurant Tax Funding

The village is well-known for giving out tax incentive money to incoming businesses, but a request in excess of $200,000 from a new fine dining restaurant was grounds for controversy during the June 26 Homewood Village Board meeting.

upcoming, will receive just over $200,000 in TIF incentive money, but not all the trustees are happy about it.

The Cottage on Dixie owners Glenna and Dudley Elvery applied for the TIF money through all three of the village's tax incentive programs: Retail Enhancement, Façade and Property Improvement and Go Green. The money is to be distributed among three years, with the first year's distribution amounting to $170,000, and then $21,250 for each of the following two years.

Trustee Tom Kataras didn't like the plan.

“… (Are) you aware that the majority of restaurants fail within the first two years? Not to be the harbinger of bad news, but you are asking for a sizeable chunk of community money.”

Glenna Elvery said she’s aware of the statistics, and so is the newly hired manager of the restaurant, who has over five years experience. The head chef has experience running six previous restaurants.

“We’ve done a lot of research and I’m not a stranger to restaurants, I just have never owned my own,” Elvery said.

“There’s a big difference, let me tell you,” Kataras, who is , said. “I admire (Elvery's) fortitude, I’m just not entirely sold that we want to front load this incentive package as much. If we’re going to do it, I’d like to see it split evenly over a three-year period.”

The other trustees don't see it as such a risk, however, as Barbara Dawkins explained.

“They’re looking at doing improvements in excess of $2.2 million. If you compare the money that we would be giving over the course of three years … with the investment that’s going to be made into the property … (even if) The Cottage goes out of business in a year … that building will still have all those improvements in it,” Dawkins said. “This is an investment in our community, even taking The Cottage itself out of the mix … they’re putting up far more money into this than we are.”

Despite agreement among the other trustees, Kataras was not swayed.

"Although this family is making an incredibly large personal investment, we are in charge of the public funds ... as a person who is in charge of public funds, I cannot suppot this," Kataras said before casting his solitary "no" vote.

crowny2 July 02, 2012 at 08:05 PM
So a few things. 1. Tax incentives are given to businesses all the time. 2. Anyone ever think they asked for all three (Retail Enhancement, Façade and Property Improvement and Go Green) hoping to at least get one, possibly two? 3. What is the harm in asking. It is legal. It is ethical. It is within their right and pervue to ask. Tobias does have a great question. What are the projected tax revenues for this new business. That will give a great idea of what the ROI would be on this community investment.
yoka ward July 02, 2012 at 09:58 PM
That is a lot of money. I wonder how many people who pay taxes in Homewood could afford to dine in this "fine dining establishment"? I just received my 2nd installment on my real estate taxes and guess what? I am not getting any relief. I gladly pay for my schools,library,park district and village services because they are crucial to a good way of life here. But a fine dining restaurant....? Having a tough time swallowing this one..... On a nostalgic note, I took my babies to Tom's restaurant to experience eating out. There was a lot of patience, happy staff and comraderie teaching kids to dine out. I've dined in some expensive places all around the world but will always have a soft spot in my heart for Tom's because those memories are priceless. And yes...those babies grew up to be teachers and lawyers and their memories go with them too.
Genvieve LaChappele July 02, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I hope the village never cries poor. What a joke. We can't give this restaurant an incentive, then they wouldn't be paying their fair share! They should have some of their wealth spread around! LOLOLOL!
gboomer July 03, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Nothing in this thread has mentioned where the incentives come from. Do you realize that TIF funds freeze other entity tax funds and use them for these incentives? That those funds actually come from our other public entities, i.e. schools, park district, library? And that those entities have no official in this? Don't forget to factor that in when you are weighing the pros and cons.
gboomer July 03, 2012 at 01:04 AM
should read "official voice"

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