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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.

Joe Plomin July 02, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Did Tom point out to Barbara the "improved" Restaraunt on 175th & Halstead is still sitting empty.
babyboomer July 02, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Exactly, I think that the money would be better spent on keeping up the improvements to the village, ie streets, cutting down dead ASH trees, etc. Also I am incensed that the village is giving $32,000 to an artist to paint "murals" on the sides of buildings. Totally rediculas.
Homewood Jim July 02, 2012 at 03:24 PM
$212,500 of public money for a private enterprise - I wonder how all the other restaurant owners that got NOTHING feel now? Socialism, even at the local level! And Socialism is working so well -- just ask the folks in the European Union!
Hernendo RevolveR July 02, 2012 at 03:33 PM
It's for the children. You like children.... ..... .... Don't you? :-)
Hernendo RevolveR July 02, 2012 at 03:41 PM
"murals" are nothing more than official graffiti. It makes a neighborhood look bad.
ridgeroadmike July 02, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Er, Jim, socialism? I don't think giving public money to private enterprise is socialism. This is an investment in the community. Whether or not it's a good investment or a bad investment is certainly arguable but it's not socialism.
Juvenal July 02, 2012 at 04:18 PM
If the government starts picking winners and losers in the private sector -- that's not exactly pure capitalism either....
Juvenal July 02, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Mr. Katsaros has always been notoriously hostile to any competition in the HW restaurant business and has used his position on the board to protect his filthy greasy spoon as long as possible. Now that it finally failed it's just sour grapes.Having "dined" in his several decades behind the times restaurant, I find it hard to believe he could even comprehend what a true fine dining restaurant is all about
Homewood Jim July 02, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Community investment is in roads, bridges, parks, and all things public. The government subsidizing private enterprise is Socialism. You must have been absent from school that day.
Ernie Souchak July 02, 2012 at 04:46 PM
It's not capitalism at all - it's yet another indication of heading straight down the path to socialism. With the majority of Americans so poorly educated, most don't have any idea the difference between the two. Voting for "more free stuff" sure looks good to so many. But eventually the economy implodes, like Europe. But they don't think it can happen here. But it's started..........
Anita July 02, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Tom K knows alot about running a business in homewood and certainly about running a restaurant business which is unique to itself. An improvement to an existing business of this amount might make sense, but this is a new business; it is unproven. $200,000 is a lot of tax dollars. It should be used for the greater good of all of our citizens. While I like the idea of this business opening here, I do think the village is choosing to support one business to the detriment of other projects. This helps a very small and select group of individuals. In this day of tight budgets I am not sure I think this is wise.
Tobias Cichon July 02, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I completely disagree with you about the murals. A rich art culture is important for a burgeoning town. I'd like to see more public art.
Annie M. July 02, 2012 at 06:16 PM
RIDICULOUS.
Tobias Cichon July 02, 2012 at 06:17 PM
No, Homewood Jim, I'm afraid you may have been the absentee. Socialism is the government (social) ownership of the means of production. Providing TIFs for the encouragement of private enterprise development is not socialism at all. In fact, it's the same idea behind providing tax cuts.
DJ Morgan July 02, 2012 at 06:22 PM
@Juvenal, you picked a perfect name to hide behind. mud-slinging and name calling will do absolutely nothing to make our community a better place. Tom Kateras has spent years running successful businesses and donated countless personal hours through his current position on the village board and numerous other local organizations. If you want to change things, first you have to take a risk and get involved.
Tobias Cichon July 02, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Does anyone know what the projected annual tax revenues are? Was there a committee report on that? I checked the meeting agenda online to no avail.
DJ Morgan July 02, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I am all for giving tax incentives to business owners, but the size of this grant is the problem. You are asking the citizens of Homewood to subsidize a single local business to the tune of $200,000. More than the average Homewood family makes in any given year. What is being offered to help those businesses who have been part of the Homewood landscape for years in these less than stellar times?
WA Mama July 02, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Thank you, Anita, for bringing the comments back to the subject at hand. I agree Tom has more insight into this subject than the rest of the board, and I agree that I would like to see the payments evened out, not such a big outlay at the onset. Also, I am all for this restaurant existing, but feel that announcing plans for it, breaking ground and THEN asking the village for hundreds of thousands of dollars is kind of ballsy. If the Elverys are spending 2.2 million on this venture, I'm sure 2.4 million would not be a huge stretch.
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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