WASHINGTON — A proposal to raise video gambling license fees hit a roadblock Monday as the Washington City Council voted unanimously to table the measure.
Mayor Gary Manier said he now considers the proposal dead.
But several aldermen said they want further discussion about the proposed fees for business owners and video gambling machine owners, which were recommended by city staff after directed by the council to find new revenue sources.
"The proposed fees are not fair," said Alderman Dave Dingledine.
Added Alderman Bob Brucks: "Under the proposal, our fee per machine for the machine owner would be higher than what Peoria charges. If the idea is to make the fee so high that the machine owners remove their machines from our city, then we should be approaching this from a different angle."
Dingledine said the fees made it seem like the city isn't supporting local businesses.
"And that's not true," he said. "We've kept video gambling cafes out of our town and given our local business owners an opportunity to have the machines. We have their backs."
In Washington, a business owner must have a Class A or Class E liquor license to offer video gambling.
Under the fee proposal, while the $500 annual video gambling license fee in place since 2012 would remain in same for the owner of a business with a Class A liquor license, the fee per machine would rise from $25 to $150 annually.
Machine owners do not currently pay any license fees.
Proposed annual fees for machine owners are $100 for a video gambling license at each establishment with a Class A liquor license and $1,250 for each machine.
"The machine owners should not get off scot free," Dingledine said.
"They need to pay something," said Alderman Carol Moss.
"The machine owners are taking in about $460,000 annually from the machines in our city," said Alderman Brett Adams. "We need to charge them something, and figure out small, palatable fee increases for our business owners."
Alderman Mike Brownfield thanked city staff for their work.
"Nobody likes to raise fees," he said. "But our city needs revenue. We have aging infrastructure that needs work, and we need to start making some hard decisions."
One hard decision was made last year when the City Council approved a 0.5% increase in the city's portion of Washington's sales tax, with the additional revenue targeted for infrastructure repairs.
The city is studying possible increases in water rates.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.