August 6 – The City of Decatur is exploring the idea of raising the fee for video gaming terminals from the current $250.
Councilmembers Chuck Kuhle, Pat McDaniel and Lisa Gregory joined Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe in showing support for boosting the fee to $500, while Dana Ray would favor $500 or higher. David Horn suggested a $1,250 fee, while Bill Faber does not support a fee increase because it “doesn’t really solve any problem.”
Neither Horn nor Faber hid his disapproval of gambling during Monday’s meeting. Faber stated “I categorically oppose video gaming,” while Horn went a step further.
“If there were three other council members who did not want to have video gaming in Decatur, we’d be having a very different discussion this evening,” he said, pointing to societal costs such as bankruptcy, crime and addiction.
However, McDaniel noted that the Council cannot alter public behavior.
“People are going to gamble if they want to gamble. They’re going to smoke if they want to smoke, the same as drinking. Prohibition didn’t work back in the 20s,” he said.
Horn cited a statistic showing residents totaled a median gaming entertainment expense – “another way to say it is the median net loss of the citizens,” he said – of $287,000 per establishment. He said establishments with video terminals gained $1.1 million in gaming profits last year over 2016.
Interim city manager Billy Tyus said there are currently 391 video gaming units in the city. Of the businesses with terminals, 29 are licensed as “Class P” – video gaming parlors.
Horn suggested revenue generated by a large fee increase should “fund our priorities” such as neighborhood revitalization or hiring additional police officers to allay “concerns about west-end crime.”
That implication seemed to irk Gregory, who pointed to figures supplied by Decatur Police Chief Jim Getz showing residential burglaries down 28 percent in that area and auto burglaries down 54 percent.
“I think it’s really important when we sit here, we need to consider our words and the way in which we say them. To imply that the west end has seen an increase in crime is inaccurate,” she said.
Ray said any fee increase should not just be seen as a cash-grab by the City.
“I don’t want to want to send the message that we’re trying to fund city projects off of video gaming,” she said.
Ambulance ordinance delayed: A proposed ordinance to update the city code in regard to ambulance service was pulled from the new business agenda.
“We wanted to make sure everyone had an opportunity to review the document in the packet,” said Tyus, adding he expected the item to be included again on the agenda for the August 20 meeting.
Police SUVs: The city will spend $178,000 to purchase six 2019 Ford Police Interceptor SUVs from Morrow Brothers Ford of Greenfield. Ford had set a Sept. 21 cutoff date for ordering new police vehicles.
The SUVs will replace four 2004 Chevrolet Impalas, a 2007 Chevy Tahoe and a 2010 Tahoe, all of which outlasted the normal four-year life expectancy.
Love’s Tavel Stop: The Council OK’d a $697,000 contract with Dunn Company for improvements to County Fair Drive in conjunction with the Love’s Travel Stop project near the interchange between Interstate 72 and Illinois 121.
The bid was almost $60,000 below the engineer’s estimate; the funds will come from the Local Motor Fuel Tax. Faber voted against the resolution, stating he would have opposed the entire project had he been present when it was approved.
Chicken coops: An amendment to the city code chapter on animal control prohibits residents from keeping chicken coops or rabbit cages in their front or side yards. The law also applies to enclosures for other domesticated fowl, such as geese or ducks.
Horn questioned whether owners of these animals had been given enough notification of the change. After a motion to table the item was voted down, the measure passed 6-1 with Faber dissenting.
Liquor licenses: The Council voted 6-1 to reduce the number of Class A liquor licenses by one to 43, with Horn voting in opposition. Class A licenses are the broadest and most flexible.
Other business: The Council also voted unanimously on the following items:
- Rezoning 1201 E. Wood Road from a Neighborhood Shopping District to a Commercial District to give the property uniform zoning;
- Approving mixed-use for the Hickory Point Frontage Road building between Cracker Barrel and Country Inn and Suites to add residential units;
- Spending $36,000 on the annual maintenance support for the Incode Court Case Management software suite;
- Approving a “Ground Water” ordinance to contain soil contamination at the site of the former Circle K at 801 S. Jasper. A ground water ordinance is a tool used by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for properties where soil and ground water under the site have been contaminated by chemicals, in this case petroleum from tanks that were removed in 2006;
- Entering a contract with JWF Specialty Company as third-party administrator for workers compensation benefits (Horn abstained).
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August 7, 2018 at 01:46AM