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Normal debates video gaming

Tue, 05 Mar 2013 04:10:06 CST
By: Rachel Darling

Last night the Town of Normal Council made new appointments, amended a licensing ordinace and confirmed a new budget. The Town Council approved an amendment to a ordinance regulating the licensing of video game-based gambling. Councilman Jeff Fritzen says the approval could send the message that the town approves of the activity. Councilman Fritzen also expressed concern for the negative effects the machines could have on the community. He had ideas for the money generated by the amendment...

   

"Look at some way to invest that money in actually dealing with the problems that the report says that are associated with activities such as this that fall on the community."

The ordinance will allow the town to collect a licensing fee. Normal will also take in 5% of the net proceeds generated by the gaming machines, which could provide a maximum of $30,000 dollars to the town. Afterwards, the Council approved an operating and capital investment budget for fiscal year 2013-1014.

Mayor Kris Koos called a public hearing on the budget and was met with no comment from townspeople present. Councilman Chuck Scott called attention to what appears to be a $13,000 deficit in the projected 2014-2015 budget. City Manager Mark R. Peterson explained...

   

"Our revenue nearly always exceeds expenses, but that year is a bit of an anomoly --it's planned."

Peterson says such fluctuations are not unusual and reflect saving in previous years for use at another time. Councilman Sonja Reese thanked the Town of Normal staff's efforts in gathering the data the council uses to make decisions and projections, calling their work "good" and "diligent."

Coucil members reappointed Dalia Diaz to a four-year term on the commission. Diaz was appointed in 2011 to fill an unexpired term. The council also appointed Dr. Cary Supalo, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Illinois State University to the commission. Dr. Supalo has dedicated himself to improving public access for people with visual impairment. He is an active member of the National Federation of the Blind, the nation's largest advocacy group for the visually impaired. Both terms begin April 1, 2013.

City Manager R. Peterson and Normal Mayor Chris Koos took a moment after the meeting to speak about a possible lawsuit by One Main Development of Champaign against the Town of Normal. The devloper is seeking $6.5 million dollars in damages for a failed building project in Uptown Normal, and has asked the town to pay them. City Manager Mark R. Peterson says he is confident One Main's claims are "without merit"...

   

"We don't believe they will be successful in recovering any money from the town, because they breached the agreement, we did not. We fulfilled all of our commitments under the agreement, they did not."

Last night, the Council approved an indemnification agreement last night with current developer Tartan Realty and Harlem Irving Group, capped at one million dollars. The agreement provides assurance for the new developer that the project will not be derailed by court proceedings.

If needed, the amount would be footed by taxpayers. Mayor Chris Koos also expressed confidence in Normal's legal position. He says the town may consider a counter-suit if One Main Development takes legal action against Normal.

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