At the Finance Committee meeting on November 18, 2019, City officials discussed Sweepstakes Terminal Café Fees.
John Gabriel, Council Member, said this is an item in government he doesn’t like, especially when singling out a segment of business. He doesn’t understand why the sweepstakes businesses pay these fees because they invest in Vermilion, in their machines, computers, and everything they need to create their business. He said the city is cutting in on their business separate from the fees, licenses and permits they need to run a business anyways. They pay taxes, payroll taxes, etc., so he’s okay with building permit increases, but in this instance they are lasering down to a specific type of business. He doesn’t see the burden, and the city doesn’t provide any additional security for them.
Gabriel said this is a 23% increase and he doesn’t get the justification. He said one out of five businesses fail in the first year, and 50% fail within five years, so here are businesses that have made it and now the city is going to step in and take 23% more from these specific businesses. He said the city’s goals were to get their finances in order, improve infrastructure, and be business friendly. His opinion is they’re striking out on being business friendly.
Gabriel asked if they were going to put a bar of soap thing on Defense Soap, or go to the auto dealerships and ask for cars – where does it end? He said he was against this and wanted to go on record stating as such before the final vote.
Mayor Forthofer said, as he recalls in 2015 when the original fees were instituted for gaming, it was intended to be somewhat restrictive by restricting the number of gaming businesses in the city. He feels the fees levied in Vermilion are similar to those in surrounding communities.
Steve Holovacs, Council Member, said he was on council when this originally started, and one of the things is that every community around Vermilion was doing this because they didn’t think it was going to be very long before the state came in and took it over. Therefore, they thought they would grab the money before the state got it.
Gabriel said he called the City of Huron and they don’t have this fee, and there is nobody closer to Vermilion than Huron. They have a river like Vermilion, and their businesses are somewhat similar, and they’re far enough away from the big city.