A somewhat lengthy and at times fiery discussion over a proposal to increase the fees for liquor license holders brought forth some spicy rhetoric at the council’s most recent meeting on March 24. Hopefully, none of the barbs pierced too deeply, because the relationship between local government and the business community here in Forest Park has been strong of late, and there are efforts afoot to make it stronger.
The showdown started earlier this month when the mayor proposed a sizable increase to the price of a liquor license here in town. The most expensive license, held by bars and liquor stores, would have jumped more than 50 percent. As a one-time hike, that is certainly a tough figure to swallow, and many license holders voiced their opposition.
But it’s been more than a decade since the village last increased these fees and a survey conducted by municipal staff members of neighboring towns showed Forest Park was a considerably cheaper place to get a liquor license.
The mayor came back with a proposal that cut the increase to less than 40 percent, and then the council voted to accept staggered payments in an effort to further reduce whatever harm the sudden spike might inflict.
One bar owner’s comparison of the village council’s actions to those of the money grubbing Cook County board was uncalled for and hardly accurate. From the other direction, council members should have avoided doling out sarcasms about how to manage money.
Entirely appropriate, however, were the mayor’s comments on the extent to which the municipality has bent over backwards to cater to this industry. Everything from parking, special events, flexible licensing and historically inexpensive fees counter any gripe that can be lodged against the increase.
It took some time, and some name calling, before this point was made but hopefully those who hold a liquor license can see the solid footing on which this ordinance stands.
And now the more pressing matters can be addressed: A grassroots collaborative of business owners is seeking a sizeable chunk of taxpayers’ money to help with advertising costs, but have pledged to expand their effort to include the whole of Forest Park and not just those on Madison Street.
Two meetings held earlier this month between municipal leaders and community members hold the promise that those business districts on Roosevelt Road and along Madison Street west of Desplaines Avenue will no longer take a back seat when it comes to reinvestment and strategic planning.
Future interactions between entrepreneurs in Forest Park and their local government shouldn’t be hindered by this minor spat. There are too many important projects on the table.