The La Salle County Board voted against waiving liquor license fees for taverns in unincorporated areas of the county.
Fourteen board members voted against the proposal, and 10 voted in favor.
County Board Chairman Don Jensen (R-Deer Park) estimated the liquor license fees generate about $25,000 in revenue for the county.
Board member Randy Freeman (R-Lostant) said there were grants from the federal government available to bar owners they could acquire if they were in need. He voted against waiving the liquor license fees.
Board member Chuck Borchsenius (R-Norway) said some bar owners had to shut down completely.
“I know $500 (the fee for the license) may not seem like a lot of money, but it is a lot when you’re trying to recover,” Borchsenius said, noting the state postponed payment on its liquor license fees. He also voted no, however, to waiving the fees.
To that, Board member Douglas Trager (D-Ottawa) agreed, saying the county would make up the difference in lost revenue from cannabis taxes, landfill funds and an increase of money on farm leases, calling the loss of revenue a “spurious” argument.
“I think it’s a token payment to these people who suffered, to try to give them some idea the County Board agrees they need a little boost if we can give it to them,” said Trager, who voted in favor of waiving the fees.
Board member and Finance Committee Chairman Brian Dose (D-Ottawa) said the County Board may be able to offer American Rescue Plan funds in reimbursement to businesses who pay fees and that waiving the fees would give up an opportunity to utilize a portion of roughly $10 million in funds available if members decided to utilize some of the money for this cause. Dose voted no to waiving the fees.
Board member Jerry Hicks (D-Marseilles) said he didn’t see any reason the county couldn’t make waiving the fees a one-time occurrence, voting yes to waiving the fees. Board member Jill Bernal (D-Peru) also voted in favor of waiving fees, saying the County Board should support those small businesses who provide for the county in other areas, such as gambling revenue and property taxes.
Also voting in favor of waiving the liquor license fees were: Joe Oscepinski (D-Peru), Joe Savitch (D-La Salle), Mike Kasap (D-La Salle), David Torres (D-Oglesby), Tom Walsh (D-Ottawa), Robert Lee (D-Seneca) and Jerry Myers (R-Streator).
Voting against waiving the liquor license fees were: Curtis Faber (R-Mendota), Joanne McNally (R-Mendota), Kindra Pottinger (R-Sheridan), Cathy Owens (R-Sandwich), Gary Small (R-Utica), Tina Bush (R-Tonica), Doug Stockley (R-Earlville), Arratta Znaniecki (R-Ottawa), Thomas Green (R-Streator), Walter Roach (R-Streator) and Elmer Walter (R-Grand Ridge).