By Joe Boyle
The Evergreen Park Village Board will decide next month to either allow or reject video gaming as a means to cope with a revenue shortfall due to COVID-19.
Mayor James Sexton brought up the subject at the village board meeting on Monday night. He mentioned that several businesses have contacted him over the past month with some suggesting that video gaming could be a life preserver due to the pandemic.
Village Attorney Vince Cainkar said he would provide the paperwork for the village board to discuss and vote on at the next meeting scheduled for Monday, Sept. 21.
Sexton pointed out that video gaming, which several nearby municipalities have approved over the past few years, does not have to occur. Some businesses have suggested that video gaming would result in $300,000 in revenue annually.
The mayor said if video gaming is approved, he would prefer that it take place in current establishments that already serve the community. Cainkar said that businesses such as Binny's and Mariano's would not be allowed to have video gaming.
"It would be in restaurants and bars where adults gather," Sexton said. "We don't want someone coming in and asking to open a hot dog stand and they can sell beer and wine. We are not going to do that."
The Evergreen Park American Legion Post 854, 9701 S. Kedzie Ave., is the lone facility in the village that currently has video gaming. The board allowed the post to have video gaming due to the fact they have raised money for various causes and provided support for the village over the years.
Board members asked what restrictions would be implemented if certain establishments were to have video gaming. Cainkar said that the machines don't necessarily have to be six feet apart. Plexiglass could be installed on both sides of the machines, Cainkar said.
The attorney also stated that some businesses could have the games placed in a separate room. However, they would not be required to do so, Cainkar added.
Sexton said that if the board decides not to approve video gaming, they will look at other options to raise money.
Village Treasurer John Sawyers said that raising additional revenue is imperative next year to offset the challenges that have occurred because of the pandemic.
"We have one million in lost revenue from our projections at the beginning of the year," Sawyers said. "But we will be OK this year. It's going to be a struggle next year. We have to tighten our belts. We may have to look at revenue enhancements."
On the subject of the coronavirus, Sexton said that the average of cases has been about the same for most of the summer.
"We have 13 deaths in total," Sexton said. "That total has been at the same amount for the past month. That's the good news. The bad news is it is still 13 deaths."
The mayor said the majority of the people who have died were over the age of 60. He reminds board members and people at the meeting to be careful. And that includes businesses.
"I have sent letters to businesses and restaurants and asked them to lead, not follow," Sexton said.
The board approved an ordinance unanimously with Cook County that will allow for coronavirus relief funds in the allocations of $365,193.
"I'm not sure we will get $365,000, but that's the number (Cook County) they came up with," Sexton said.
Trustee Mark Marzullo asked if the village will exceed the amount Cook County is allowing. Sawyers said the village would not go over that figure. However, Sawyers added that the village will end up using the amount allotted from the county.
The recent storms that ravaged through the southwest suburbs left a lot of damage in its wake and wide scale power outages. The mayor was blunt in his assessment of ComEd in getting power back up for homeowners and businesses.
"ComEd provided poor service during the storms," Sexton said. "Hopefully, there won't be any big storms in the future. They (ComEd) should get their act together. I let them know about it, too."
The board also approved an ordinance for a real estate contract for the sale of the property located at 2740 W. 95th St.
Village Clerk Cathy Aparo said the vehicle sticker purchase is due by Sept.15. She added that due to COVID-19, residents can pay their bill online. She added that online sales have been brisk. Residents can visit the website at www.evergreenpark-il.com to access the online portal available 24 hours a day with no online payment fee. And the 95th and Kedzie currency exchange sells vehicle stickers for a nominal fee, Aparo added.
A business license was granted to D.A.'s Deli at 9611 S. Pulaski. D.A.'s is a chain of delis with locations in Orland Park and Countryside. T-Mobile was approved for a business license for leasing and financing in Suite 100 at 2525 W. 95th St. Atrium Healthcare Services, 3112 W. 95th St., a home health agency, and MJG 360 Consulting Group, LLC, 9500 S. Avers, Suite 5, a business and personal consulting agency, were approved by the board.
Seafood Junction, 2511 W. 95th St., was also unanimously approved by the board for a business license. The former Bubba's Chicken shop will feature seafood boil, steak and chicken. Seafood Junction will be take-out only.
National Payroll Week was approved for the week of Sept. 7 through Sept. 11. Sexton also proclaimed Sept. 14 through Sept. 18 as "Evergreen Park Chamber of Commerce Week."