The venerable members-only Anvil Club may be in line for a $300,000 loan from East Dundee, but the proposal has a local group calling the move a "corporate bailout."
The Fox Valley Libertarian Party has been staging Saturday protests outside the 56-year-old Anvil Club since last week. The group has also created an online petition against the club's move to seek financial assistance from the village.
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The demonstrations and petition are in response to a proposal for East Dundee to give the private supper club money toward its interior and exterior renovations. The money would come out of a tax-increment finance district and the dollar amount has not been set yet. Although the club initially asked for about $300,000, the final figure may be less than that, said Village President Lael Miller, also a member of the club.
If the village gave a subsidy to the club, that would set a dangerous precedent because other businesses in town could have their hands out for East Dundee money as well, said Julie Fox, chairwoman of the Fox Valley Libertarian Party.
"Where does it end?," Fox asked.
Fox is running for Illinois Comptroller in the 2014 election and says the party took on this issue a few weeks before she announced her candidacy. The party found out about the proposal, she said, from fellow Libertarian Allen Skillicorn, an East Dundee trustee.
In a TIF district, property tax assessments are frozen for 23 years. The extra tax revenue generated by the improved property is used for infrastructure and other improvements within the designated district. It's used as a tool to spur development within the district and to attract other business.
Any business in East Dundee is welcome to apply for funding through the TIF, as long as they are able to pay it back, Miller said.
"Nobody gets free money," Miller said.
The Anvil Club was founded in 1956. Its leadership did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Tom Roeser, president and chief executive officer of Otto Engineering in Carpentersville, has bought up several properties in East Dundee, renovated them and secured tenants. He belongs to the club and has taken it under his wing by promising to perform emergency repairs, to lend it money and to help with its renovation.
He says East Dundee should invest in the club because it's an important part of the village's rebirth.
"This is a business decision and it's a good business decision and in some ways, it's like marketing money in that the return doesn't come from the Anvil Club," Roeser said. "It comes from all of the businesses that are helped by the Anvil Club."