Metropolis funding among hot subjects at Arlington Hts. trustee forum
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The topics were varied but much of the debate during an Arlington Heights village trustee candidates forum Saturday came down to money — and the lack of it.
Incumbent Trustees Joseph Farwell, Thomas Glasgow, Norman Breyer and Bert Rosenberg along with newcomer Jim Tinaglia sparred civilly about priorities during a League of Women Voters of Arlington Heights-Mount Prospect-Buffalo Grove forum.
One issue was funding for the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, which the village took over in 2005. The annual subsidy is around $150,000 but recently the board voted to provide $317,000 — part of which is for building improvements.
"I love Metropolis, and I think we're one of the few communities around to have such a venue," Tinaglia said. "I also think it's important that it stands on its own. If we're going to fund it — there are other ways we can raise those funds to help support it."
Citing the Rialto Theater in Joliet among others, Breyer said, "there is no facility similar to the Metropolis that doesn't run without a subsidy." He argued it draws people to Arlington Heights' downtown. "People come to my office out in Will County and tell me they enjoy going there."
Several incumbents noted that money for Metropolis does not come from property taxes but from a food and beverage tax levied on restaurants. The economic impact to Arlington Heights from Metropolis ranges from $3 million to $5 million, they said.
Farwell supports a continued and "reasonable" subsidy and added that the food and beverage tax is not just paid by residents but by visitors. He added that the $317,000 this year "was an unusual number because there are some capital expenses to the facility, which we own."
Rosenberg said the financial support Arlington Heights gives Metropolis is minimal compared to what neighbors like Schaumburg provide to their theater. "Metropolis does draw people from all over the area," Rosenberg said. "I think it's important to maintain the arts. I was originally was not a supporter of Metropolis, but I feel it has added value over the years."
Glasgow said, "If anybody doesn't believe Metropolis does not generate business — go sit down in one of these downtown restaurants at 8 p.m. or (7:45) and watch how many people get up ... how many leave to go to the theater."
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