I had the privilege of serving as a Commissioner on the Forest Park village council from 2003 to 2007. During my time on the council, I saw first-hand the challenges a small municipal government faces in funding its daily operations. Beyond property and sales tax, I can assure you generating revenue at the local level is a constant struggle. When the opportunity for a new revenue source presents itself, it should be seriously considered. Video gaming was and as a former council member, I believe the current council, even with the past history of surveys and the advisory referendum on the issue, did the fiscally responsible thing in allowing it. Our entire village benefits financially from video gaming revenue while only those that chose to play fund it. It just makes sense.
In the short time video gaming has been allowed in Forest Park it has generated from licenses, fees and shared gaming revenue a reported $300,000.00 for our village. Some have claimed this amount is in some way insignificant because it only funds the operations of the village for a handful of days. As someone who was actually responsible for keeping the village lights on for four years, I can state emphatically that our small village funds itself 5 minutes at a time, every single dollar counts and $300,000 absolutely makes a difference.
The 5% share of gaming revenue Forest Park receives has and will continue to have a positive impact on funding the critical services the village provides to its residents. Eliminating it will have the opposite effect. If gaming is prohibited and this revenue is lost, replacing it would be a near impossibility. Forest Park only receives 1% of the retail sales tax paid on purchases within the village. In order to replace $300,000 in lost gaming revenue, Forest Park would need to see a thirty million dollar increase in retail sales. That would require hundreds of new small businesses to immediately relocate or open in Forest Park. As much as we’d all enjoy seeing that happen, even a comprehensive long-term economic development plan would fail to realize those kinds of increases. However, a solid long-term plan, along with gaming revenue, would be a winning combination for our village. Video gaming is already in place and generating revenue for us so how would eliminating it be beneficial? It just wouldn’t make sense.
As you cast your ballot on November 6th, please consider the above and join me in voting NO on the video gaming referendum.
Forest Park resident and former