DIXON – The city is concerned that video gambling parlors are taking up limited liquor licenses and not living up to their intended use.
Restaurants, bars and other establishments with a liquor license can have video gambling machines under the Video Gaming Act and with approval by the Illinois Gaming Board, but Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said Monday that there’s not much room for the city to regulate the number of gambling facilities.
Some businesses were given licenses because they were supposed to operate as a restaurant or a bar, but instead have turned into video gambling parlors that aren’t based on selling food or liquor, Arellano said.
“There’s a lot of prime real estate in the city being taken over by gambling,” he said. “We’re not trying to be Sin City here.”
City code makes 71 liquor licenses available in several categories – for restaurants, bars, grocery stores and other businesses – and many of the categories are maxed out, he said.
“I’ve turned down a number of licenses because there aren’t any left,” he said.
Arellano suggested looking into the city’s authority to better regulate or remand liquor licenses held by video gambling parlors – for example, by setting a space requirement to receive a license.
Councilman Chris Bishop said they shouldn’t require a minimum square footage because it could take away from smaller restaurants.
Councilman Kevin Marx said the city could be losing sales tax revenue if a business received a liquor license as a restaurant but instead is operating as a video gambling parlor only.
As liquor commissioner, the mayor could choose not to renew a license, but it isn’t clear whether the license could be revoked under the circumstances.
City Attorney Rob LeSage is researching the scope of the city’s authority, and the council plans to look for possible solutions.
Airport land for lease
Also Monday, City Manager Cole O’Donnell said the city is moving forward with plans to lease a portion of underused land at the Dixon Municipal Airport to a solar farm, to generate more revenue at the facility.
The city wrapped up a study last month looking to find ways to make the airport more sustainable, and one of the recommendations was to lease or sell about 50 acres in the southern end of the property.
Three or four energy companies have shown interest in the space, and it could generate $30,000 or $40,000 a year, O’Donnell said.
“As far as dependable income to the airport, it’s our best possible option,” he said.
Fargo Creek study
The council also discussed today’s informational open house on its Fargo Creek study. It begins at 6 p.m. at Loveland Community House, 513 W. Second St.
The study examines areas such as flow capacity and identifying needed improvements. Community members with concerns or interest in the creek are encouraged to attend.
The creek splits into eastern and western forks and drains from Bloody Gulch Road to the Rock River. It is usually dry, but is prone to flash flooding that takes a toll on city infrastructure.
The council also had a brief public hearing on the proposed 2016 tax levy; no community members spoke.
The city is requesting a total levy of $3,994,647, but because of the Property Tax Exemption Limitation Law, officials expect to receive only $3.87 million.
The proposed levy would increase the taxes on a $100,000 home by $20 a year, from $828 to $848.
The City Council next meets at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at City Hall, 121 W. Second St.
Go to discoverdixon.org or call City Hall at 815-288-1485 for an agenda or more information.