Buffalo Grove weighs giving virus relief funds to struggling businesses

Buffalo Grove is weighing the pros and cons of providing financial relief to businesses impacted by COVID-19, especially struggling restaurants.

But officials say they must weigh the needs of the business community against the need to maintain a balanced budget.

The village board discussed several options Monday, and those talks will continue when they meet again in January.

Trustee Lester Ottenheimer III said there is an urgent need to provide relief.

"If we wait too long, there may be less businesses that need help because they may be out (of business)," he said.

Among the proposals were waiving business license fees, which would create a $130,000 revenue shortfall for the village.

Another option would be reducing liquor license fees by 50% for on-premise liquor license holders, a $45,000 hit to the village budget.

A third option discussed was cutting restaurant food and beverage taxes by .5% to 1% for six months, with an estimated cost to the village of $150,000 to $180,000.

Trustees also discussed a one-time $2,500 grant to qualifying restaurants.

Waivers of business fees and liquor license fees seemed to encounter the least resistance, while the restaurant grants generated some uneasiness about favoring one type of business over another.

"What about hair salons? My hair salon's business is down 30%. What about health clubs and other retail establishments that have been hurt by COVID?" Trustee Joanne Johnson asked.

But Trustee David Weidenfeld noted that over the last five years, restaurants have contributed $7.5 million in revenue to the village.

"That's $7.5 million of taxes that we didn't ask the residents to pay," he said, later adding, "Those folks carried the ball and made a contribution to this community. I think we need to do something now. Waiting is not going to make this any better for these folks."

Johnson also raised concern about the financial impact on the village.

"Where will this money come from? Will we cut services? Will we lay off public safety employees? Will we rob our reserves? Will we raise taxes and take money from the pockets of our residents, who are also hurting?" she asked.

Village Manager Dane Bragg said the village already has cut $2 million out of the operating budget, and in the process eliminated or left open 14 full-time positions, about 7% of the workforce.

"So to say that we have a half a million dollars that we can sort of come up with magically out of the budget is not true," he said.

He said the village could dip into reserves, but that might affect the ability to keep up with scheduled road work.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.