City Council Update

The big headline from the latest City Council meeting was the final approval in the seven year journey for the Water Street District development project.

The Council put the final touches on the financial part of the deal, which calls for a funding agreement of nearly $24 million in public improvements for the site.

Through this deal, the city would have total ownership of a new parking garage, under the condition that they pay an additional $4.5 million up front. Much of that cash should be recouped over 30 years from Marquette Companies through annual parking fees.

It also extended the length of the tax increment financial district by seven years, to make up for that same number of years it has taken to get the project moving. This will allow for the influx of an estimated 6 million dollars of additional revenue.

Other benefits over the next 20 years include a projected $12 million in food and beverage tax, $6 million in city tax, and $7.5 million in hotel tax, for a total of just over $20 million.

The Water Street Project marks the return of hospitality to downtown. The last hotel in town was the Naperville Hotel, which is now “Peanuts Bar and Grill” and closed to the public in 1931.

During the public forum, watchdog group Illinois Leaks challenged the eligibility of two councilmen to sit on council, claiming that Joe Mcelroy and Dave Wentz had, during their terms, been overdue on their utility bills.

The group cited the Illinois Municipal code that states a person is ineligible to serve in an elective municipal office “if that person is in arrears in the payment of a tax or other indebtedness due to the municipality.”

Both councilmen claimed to be current on their bills, and say they weren’t aware of any late fees.

Any further action would have to be taken up by the state’s attorney, as this would be a state code violation.

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