By Howard Packowitz
NORMAL – Tuesday night’s meeting of the Normal Town Council may wind up again showing political differences evident since April’s election.
The trigger this time is a proposal to rebate up to $150,000 in sales and food and beverage taxes over 10 years to aid the Fiala brothers, who want to open a brewpub and restaurant in Uptown Normal.
Also on the council’s agenda is a presentation about the benefit of tax increment financing as an economic development tool, and the overall financial impact Uptown renewal has had on the community.
On its Facebook page, the McLean County Republican party criticized the rebate proposal. “This is not capitalism. This is the government picking winners and losers in the local economy,” the GOP said in its Facebook posting.
The leading vote-getter in the last election, council member Stan Nord, wants to know how the rebate benefits taxpayers.
“A restaurant and bar are not economic engine generators,” said Nord.
“We only have so much money. We need to be focusing on bringing economic engine generators. By opening a new restaurant or a bar in our community, the community can only support so many meals to be consumed in any day, week, or month,” he said.
Nord remains skeptical about claims that Uptown is a success and that businesses are clamoring to locate Uptown.
“If that’s true, and it is so successful, then taxpayers should not be needing to subsidize businesses going in there,” said Nord.
“Just the business alone, the profit potential alone should be able to draw business in,” He added.
According to Nord, the council is kept in the dark about the rebate and other issues until the Thursday before council meetings.
Nord said he has yet to see a written report from the town’s consultant about TIF districts ahead of Tuesday night’s council meeting, so he doesn’t have time to review the data and ask questions.
Tuesday council meeting is at 7 p.m. in Uptown Station.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at [email protected]
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