Hotel tax proposal clears city council panel, continues
By Brian Stanley email@example.com July 15, 2013 9:38PM
Updated: August 17, 2013 6:48AM
JOLIET — Economic incentives — easy. Economic development — not so much.
Monday’s pre-council meeting saw smooth passage of the tax package proposed for the planned hotel and conference center and a political stalemate regarding appointments to the newly-created economic development committee.
By a vote of 9-0, the council approved the “compromise” incentive agreement for the proposed hotel and conference center that would be built near the Houbolt Road and Interstate 80 interchange.
“Everyone was very pleased we have a level playing field with this,” City Manager Tom Thanas said.
Joe Pecora, who owns Heroes West Sports Grill, located nearby, felt a previous proposal would have used city money to sponsor a competing business.
Since that objection was brought to the council, the tax rebate, which will run on a sliding scale for 10 years, will apply to the rest of the complex, but not the restaurant.
The city of Joliet would give up $200,000 in construction-related fees and taxes under the compromise incentive package announced late Friday on the city’s website.
Meanwhile, the council also approved naming councilmen Jim McFarland, Terry Morris and Robert Odekirk to the new Housing Authority oversight committee.
But Mayor Tom Giarrante’s proposal of Mike Turk, Jan Quillman and himself for the economic committee was questioned by some members including Larry Hug.
“I brought up the necessity of an economic development committee 18 months ago when there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm for it and started developing it again for the city recently. It’s my baby,” Hug said.
Odekirk, Morris and McFarland agreed Hug has been an important part of the process and joined him in voting against Giarrante’s appointments. The mayor, Turk, Susie Barber and John Gerl voted ‘yes’ with Quillman abstaining.
“I went by seniority. I put the people I felt have the most experience to serve the committee best,” Giarrante said after the meeting. “The senior member (Turk) asked to be on it, I’m next. I wanted to be on it and I asked the third (Quillman) next and she said ‘yes.’”
Giarrante said he would consult with the city attorney before addressing the committee membership appointments again.