This week, residents got the one-two punch of hearing that Home Owners Bargain Outlet is pulling out of Forest Park Plaza mall, and that the budget deficit could exceed $1.9 million next year. These are not just numbers. The deficit has to be made up somewhere, and if we don't stop losing revenue sources, the difference will be made up with increased property taxes.
With that in mind, now would be the worst possible time to prohibit video gaming in local establishments and cut off yet another revenue source. The machines account for nearly $200,000 in revenue every year and that number is expected to increase. At a time when shopping malls and older retail outlets like Sears are failing across the country, our economy has to find ways to adapt. Quality eating and drinking establishments that offer a wide range of entertainment to their customers are necessary for the economic health of Forest Park.
When asked about where they would make up the lost revenue from video gaming, opponents have yet to offer anything more than some wishful thinking. Wishful thinking won't save us from higher taxes and fees.
Don't put our local businesses at a disadvantage and don't cut off a needed revenue source at a time our Village literally cannot afford it. Vote NO on prohibition of video gaming.
Forest Park resident
Editor's Note: Property taxes cover less than 20 percent of the village's revenue, with the remaining funds coming from sales taxes, fees and grants. The village levied the full amount it can for property taxes in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the calendar years video gaming has been legal in the village, said Tim Gillian, village administrator.
The village of Forest Park is limited in its ability to increase property taxes. It is subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law, which limits property tax levy increases to 5 percent or the consumer price index, whichever is lower.