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.
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 the former owner of the recently closer Tom’s Family Restaurant, 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.