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Board OKs OTB rebate
Posted By Staff On August 19, 2009 @ 7:10 am In Online Exclusives | No Comments
By Stuart R. Wahlin
As The Rock River Times first reported, a deal to consolidate an existing off-track betting (OTB) facility into Don Carter Lanes, 4007 E. State St., is coming to fruition.
During the Aug. 13 meeting, the Winnebago County Board approved its end of an agreement aimed at keeping gambling in Rockford.
Trackside Rockford, 5011 E. State St., had planned to close its doors—that is, until the City of Rockford caught wind it stood to lose a funding stream.
The city and county both collect 1 percent of the horse racing revenues. For 2009, OTB receipts are expected to account for $140,000 in both government’s coffers.
County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) explained, “I received a letter saying they were going out of business, and the city worked to resurrect that, and said if we both reduce the fees…that would be enough for them to make a move, and save that revenue stream.”
As part of the deal, the city and county both agree to a one-time $35,000 rebate of their shares of the take to make the OTB’s move feasible, but the city is doing the heaviest lifting.
In addition to the rebate, the city will provide $430,000 over six years from the Miracle Mile Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District toward Don Carter’s $1.4 million facelift.
One new full-time position and 12 part-time jobs are expected to be created as the OTB becomes a Don Carter tenant. The city is throwing in an additional $50,000 from the TIF toward improvements necessary for housing the betting facility.
In a voice vote, only Steve Schultz (R-2) cast a “no.” Kyle Logan (R-3), an employee of AMCORE Bank, abstained, citing a “financial relationship with the proposed project.”
The Rockford City Council gave its final approval to the deal Aug. 17.
Vacancy declared in District 5
Following the retirement of Pete MacKay (R-5), effective July 31, a vacancy was declared for MacKay’s seat during the Aug. 13 meeting.
A Republican successor residing in District 5 must be appointed within 60 days. But whether it’s 60 days from the vacation of office, or 60 days from the declared vacancy, has yet to be determined by the Illinois Supreme Court in the matter of the vacancy created by the death of Mary Ann Aiello (R-9) more than a year ago.
In a coup attempt of sorts, Democrats tried to muscle their way into her seat by arguing a special election should have been held, because more than 28 months remained in Aiello’s term.
Although Aiello passed away more than 28 months before the end of her term, successor Ted Biondo (R-9) was appointed within the 28-month window.
The 17th Circuit first ruled the clock started ticking at the time of Aiello’s death, but a last-minute appeal before the November elections ruled in Biondo’s favor, thereby meaning Democrat Carolyn Gardner would not have a chance at the seat.
Democrats have since taken the matter to the state Supreme Court, which has yet to issue its opinion.
County won’t release lien on would-be assisted living center
The board voted down a resolution that would have released a lien on property used to secure a $100,000 loan for Victorian Courts Assisted Living, Inc.
The board granted the $100,000 four years ago from a small business loan fund, believing Barry and Marsha Mantheis planned to build a nursing home, which never happened.
Urging board members to hold their ground in the matter, which is also the subject of ongoing litigation, John Ekberg (R-10) reported: “The principals of Victorian Courts promised to create jobs while operating an assisted living home. We loaned 100,000 [dollars] based on that promise and, essentially, they didn’t use the money for creating the jobs.”
In December, board members passed a resolution allowing Victorian Courts to liquidate its assets that were subject to a security agreement with the county. The liquidation deadline was Feb. 28, and the Mantheises were hoping the county would agree to settle for less.
As of last December, $75,000 was still owed on the low-interest loan, but County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen (R) noted the Mantheises had been keeping up with their payments.
In a voice vote, board members agreed not to settle for less than the full $100,000 being returned.
• Authorizing the execution of an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for federal participation in guardrail safety upgrades and repairs throughout the county.
• Authorizing the execution of an agreement with the IDOT for federal participation in the Prairie Hill Road project, the county’s share of which is $165,000.
• Authorizing the appropriation of $150,000 from motor fuel tax (MFT) funds for improvements on Forest Hills Road.
• Authorizing the execution of a $4,000 professional services agreement with Testing Service Corporation for construction materials testing and inspection services related to the Forest Hills Road patching project.
• Authorizing the execution of a $97,160.61 preliminary engineering services agreement with Fehr-Graham and Associates for design of the Lakeside Drive culvert and bridge.
• Authorizing an amendment to the environmental engineering services agreement with Missman Stanley & Associates for the Meridian Road resurfacing project. The modification raises the not-to-exceed cost approved in June from $3,600 to $6,250 for environmental engineering as unforeseen challenges were discovered in the process.
• Authorizing the appropriation of $6 million from MFT funds for improvements on Bell School Road.
• Authorizing the execution of a $21,900 professional services agreement with Testing Service Corporation for construction materials testing and inspection services related to the Bell School Road reconstruction project between Newburg and Mill roads.
County to buy 36 alternative fuel vehicles
Board members unanimously passed an ordinance to purchase 36 flex-fuel public safety vehicles under an installment purchase contract with a 2.7 percent interest rate.
The $767,317 total purchase includes 32 Ford Crown Victorias, two Ford Expeditions, a Ford E350 12-passenger van and a Ford E150 eight-passenger van.
Studio B Digital Recording owner Mike Castronovo continued his push for better access to businesses from roads divided by medians.
Castronovo was at the losing end of a fight for a left-turn lane for his home-business at 6812 Harrison Ave., but said he’s not alone.
Castronovo said he was told by a “high-ranking county official” that 13 business ventures along Perryville Road would also like to see cuts in their restrictive medians, but that none would get them.
Castronovo reported having been told by the official: “There’s a lot of eyes watching what happens to you. … It’s like a domino effect.”
Castronovo concluded: “All businesses need easy access for their customers to reach them, to survive and to grow. The lesson of the downtown mall should easily serve as the ultimate example. If Winnebago County wants real economic growth, and a good business tax base, the attitude toward allowing access for business must change.”
Isidro Barrios (D-11) and Dorothy Redd (D-6) were absent.
From the Aug. 19-25, 2009 issue
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