E. Dundee to amend lien for Santa's Village land
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East Dundee officials are working on a compromise with the current ownership of the Santa's Village property that owed money on a lien the previous owners incurred seven years ago.
North Pole Corp. owed $75,284.85 on the lien East Dundee officials put on the property, due to unpaid amusement taxes and water and sewer fees.
Sterling Bay bought the property in 2006 with the lien in place and had been on the hook for the entire amount, Village Administrator Bob Skurla said.
Monday night, the village's committee of the whole agreed to:
• Amend the lien by waiving the $39,500 in unpaid amusement taxes from the lien, since the village cannot legally collect it from Sterling Bay, Village Administrator Bob Skurla said.
• Work on a plan with Sterling Bay to pay the remaining $35,784.85 in water and sewer fees the last owner incurred but didn't pay.
Scott Goodman, one of Sterling Bay's principals, approached the village to waive the lien, as the company is refinancing the property.
Sterling Bay leases the 38 acres on Route 25 to two entities: Santa's Village Azoosment Park, which offers rides, eateries and a petting zoo, and Paintball Explosion that features paintball and Laser Tag. They replaced Santa's Village, an amusement park that opened in 1959 but closed in 2006 amid a dispute between the North Pole Corp. and North Pole Village, the company that operated the amusement park.
In Goodman's view, Sterling Bay shouldn't have to pay anything because the debt didn't happen on its watch. He added that the company has yet to break even on its $5.2 million investment in East Dundee.
"Legally, we all know that the water and sewer follows the owner," Goodman said. "What I'm really asking you is to consider the investment that we've put into this thing, the amount of money that we're generating back for the village."
East Dundee has made roughly $282,300 off the new incarnation at Santa's Village the past two years, officials said. The village also invested in the project by using $100,000 in tax increment finance district funds to help pay for the property's parking lot improvements.
"Santa's Village has been very successful," Village President Lael Miller said. "It's not like the village has been shorted on this deal at all."
Trustee Jeff Lynam said the village should cut Goodman some more slack and waive the lien entirely, since the village, in his view, was lax on collecting the debt all these years. He'd rather see Goodman invest the money into the business to generate more revenue.
"If they're giving us money back for water that they didn't use, all that's going to do is tighten their pocketbook even more," Lynam said.
But other members said they would be setting a bad precedent for other business owners if they gave Goodman a pass.
"It is a debt," Trustee Rob Gorman said. "We have people come all the time for these kinds of things and we say no, generally."
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