Metro-East News

Belleville City Council will again consider increasing fees opposed by bar owners

Bar owner speaks against fee increase

Scott Schmelzel, owner of Big Daddy's 618 in Belleville, asked aldermen not to raise video gaming fees and suggested they reach a compromise. "The only reason we're still open is gaming revenues," he said.
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Scott Schmelzel, owner of Big Daddy's 618 in Belleville, asked aldermen not to raise video gaming fees and suggested they reach a compromise. "The only reason we're still open is gaming revenues," he said.

Belleville bar owners and City Council members will have another chance to air their views about the city’s proposal to raise video gaming and liquor license fees.

A special City Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall at 101 S. Illinois St. for discussion of the proposed fee increases for bars and restaurants.

The council on March 5 tabled a vote on the fee increases after receiving a barrage of complaints from bar and restaurant owners who say the increases unfairly target their industry. City officials have said the additional revenue is needed.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert discusses why the city has proposed fee increases that could bring in $180,000. He said the city's share of state income tax was down $500,000 last year.

The plan to raise fees included raising the video gaming terminal fee from $100 per machine per year to $300 annually and raising the liquor license fee from $550 to $700.

Here are details about the proposed fee increases that were tabled:

  • Video gaming machine stickers: Increase from $100 per machine to $300 per machine annually.
  • Video gaming terminal operator’s license: Change from no fee currently to $500 annually per location. There are about 30 locations in the city and various distributors place machines in Belleville.
  • Liquor licenses: Increase Class A, B and C base fee from $550 to $700 annually.

  • Special event liquor license: Increase from $10 to $20 per event.

  • Liquor license application fee: Increase from $250 to $500.

Barry Gregory, owner of Crehan's Irish Pub in Belleville and the vice president of the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association, said his industry is being "unfairly targeted" in proposed fee increases in Belleville.

The council on March 5 did approve the following fee increases:

  • Additional or new trash bin fee: Increase from $50 to $75 per bin.

  • Sanitation large item pick-up fee: Increase from $45/$70/$100 (depending on size of truckload) to $65/$90/$120.

  • Housing occupancy permits: Increase from $50 to $55 per permit.

  • Housing inspections: Increase from $60 to $65 per inspection.

  • Business license: Increase from $25 to $50. Some businesses already pay higher fees for licenses so this would not affect them and other businesses do not have to pay any business license fee.

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