Welcome to 3rdWard.org, a website dedicated to communication and transparency between Des Plaines City Government and you. This website, maintained by 3rd Ward Alderman Denise Rodd, is designed to keep neighbors engaged in their community and informed about issues.

Wednesday
Jun062012

Daily Herald: Des Plaines approves policy for spending casino revenues

By Madhu Krishnamurthy

The Des Plaines City Council Monday night approved guidelines for spending gambling revenues from the Rivers Casino.

The vote was 5-3 to to adopt the policy limiting the use of casino revenues to primarily infrastructure projects and to pay down the city's roughly $62.5 million debt load, a large portion of which was incurred for land purchases in special taxing districts, and infrastructure projects related to improving streets and water mains. The dissenting aldermen — Dick Sayad (4th Ward), Jim Brookman (5th), and Mark Walsten (6th) — said they thought the policy was too restrictive.

The city has received roughly $18.7 million in wagering and admissions tax revenue from the casino since it opened last July through April 2012, according to Finance Director Dorothy Wisniewski.

As part of the deal that landed Des Plaines the 10th and final casino license, the city must pay the state $10 million for the next 30 years, and share 40 percent of the remaining revenues with 10 disadvantaged communities.

On Monday, the city paid roughly $4.7 million to the state — its prorated share of revenues from the time the casino opened on July 15 through Dec. 31 — and distributed checks for a total of $2.5 million to the 10 communities. Des Plaines' share for that period amounts to roughly $3.7 million, which is what will be earmarked for use in 2013.

Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan announced the disbursement of casino revenues during a news conference Monday afternoon with five aldermen and city staff present.

Brookman objected to payments being made to the state and other communities without the city council voting on the matter.

“It's clearly improper and I think it possibly could be illegal,” Brookman said. “If the city council does not have to approve expenditure of this kind of money, I think this is a big problem. We put ourselves at serious risk.”

Moylan responded that the state sent Des Plaines a letter asking for its money.

“These towns and the state has been begging for their money,” Moylan said. “It was the only prudent thing to do.”

All eight aldermen agreed infrastructure should be the biggest priority for casino money because it's what residents want.

Sayad said he didn't see the need for a spending policy because the city staff was professional enough to follow the wishes of the council. He wanted the language of the policy to be simplified and the city's finance committee to review it one more time before the council adopted it.

“This is very critical,” Sayad said. “This is the guideline we are going to give our staff to go by.”

Walsten, whose ward is home to the Rivers Casino, said aldermen have been talking about spending casino revenues on infrastructure and debt for years.

“I'm not comfortable with having that tunnel vision,” Walsten said, adding that he would want the flexibility to use casino revenues to provide incentives to developers or for other investments.

“This ties our hands to other creative thinking,” Walsten said. “As long as we keep the gaming fund separate, we can look at it yearly. It would also give us the ability to think outside the box.”

Finance Committee Chairman Matt Bogusz said past city councils haven't always made the best financial decisions as is evidenced by the $40 million in tax increment financing debt the city has incurred over the years betting on future development.

“To me, that $40 million is the product of creative thinking of previous councils,” Bogusz said. “This is not your typical tax revenue. This is an entirely new fund and something that we haven't done before. We will be different from the nine (casino) communities that came before us, and that's OK because they are relying on casino revenues to support essential services.”

Saturday
Jun022012

Journal Calls for Approval of Bogusz' Proposed Gaming Revenue Resolution


Time to Protect Casino Revenues

Friday, June 1, 2012

No matter what side of the casino equation you’re on – for or against them – as long as Rivers Casino remains highly profitable, millions of new dollars will flow into Des Plaines’ city treasury every year.  How much money depends on how well the “riverboat” operation is run, which by all accounts is very well, and on future action by the state legislature.

Lawmakers are currently in the midst of wrestling with economic issues of epic proportions ranging from pension and Medicaid reform to casino expansion.  We should know in a day or two whether the number of casinos in the state – capped several years ago at 10 – will be increase to as many as 15.  The controversial bill also calls for allowing slot machines at the state’s six horse race tracks. 

Should any part of the bill pass, it will have a profound effect on Rivers Casino’s ability to continue to make a big profit.  Since it’s opening last year, it has regularly been the No. 1 casino in the state profitwise.  Allowing more casinos and slots at race tracks will unquestionably cut into Rivers’ ability to make money and that in turn will cut into Des Plaines’ take of the 5% host community Wagering Tax and $1 per person Admissions Tax.  All indications point to the belief that when the year ends and the city has to pay the state $10 million from casino tax income following by 40% of what’s left to 10 disadvantaged communities, Des Plaines will be left with about $4 million.  Proposed legislation could dramatically alter that formula resulting in a more favorable funding picture for the city or dilute the ability of all 10 casinos to rack up big profits as competition increases.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens. 

For the last year, Des Plaines officials, led by Mayor Marty Moylan and Finance Committee chairman Ald. Matt Bogusz (3d), have been crafting a proposed city policy that would establish firm rules on how that $4 million should be spent starting Jan 1, 2013 and beyond. Because of the instability of casino revenue, such a policy makes sense.  For two years, many aldermen have advocated spending that newfound cash only on “one time” items such as street, sidewalk, and anti-flooding sewer improvements.  Allocating those funds to things like employee salaries and pet projects is too risky, they say.  We agree. 

As reported in this Wednesday’s Des Plaines edition of the Journal & Topics Newspapers and in March, a formal proposal is before aldermen to establish a firm policy earmarking casino money only for specific projects such as infrastructure improvements and paying off the city’s still high debt.  City council will consider this policy at its next regular meeting on Monday, June 4. 

What aldermen have yet to do is engage in a serious public debate on the proposal championed by Bogusz and Moylan and then state clearly their opinions. 

We believe the foundation of the proposal is sound.  Through honest, concentrated debate a good, city policy can be adopted for now and for years to come.  Those currently serving on city council, including the mayor, will all be replaced some day.  Term limits and time guarantee that.  The next city election is in the spring of 2013.  Half of city council could be replaced by then and by 2015, the elected board may have all new faces. 

City leaders need to take the appropriate steps to protect the integrity of future casino revenue and to assume that the city’s financial picture remains sound. 

The time to do so is now.  

 

Wednesday
May302012

RSVP: Trip to Pesche's - June 6th

Following our trip to JB Metal Works, residents suggested a trip to Pesche's for our next Des Plaines 101 event.  Ask and you shall receive!

Since 1924, Pesche's has grown with Des Plaines.  Join us for some history, a complete tour of the expansive facility, "behind the scenes" access, and discussion with owner Chris Pesche.  Following the visit, we will hold our regular 3rd Ward Meeting.  

Monthly 3rd Ward Meeting & Pesche's Visit
Wednesday, June 6th (FIRST Wednesday this month!)
7pm - Pesche's Flowers - 170 S River Road

 

Wednesday
May302012

Vets Honored: Memorial Day 2012

Special thanks to the Maine West High School Marching Band, Des Plaines Park District, VFW Post 2992, American Legion Post 36, Steven Schaefer, and all in attendance for making this year's Memorial Day event a true celebration of our veterans. 

Friday
May252012

MBD Martial Arts - Open for Business

This morning, I spent some time with Sensei Michelle and her students learning about our newest downtown business: MBD Martial Arts. (don't worry...I'm told they had the day off school!)

Starting out in her garage, Michelle built a thriving business that moved to Oakton Street, and finally to Miner Street.  The City's new small business incentives helped her grow her business and stay in Des Plaines.  I'm proud of my work on these incentives.  We know that parents are going to enjoy Michelle's adult classes and downtown shops & restaurants while their children are learning tae kwon do!

Thursday
May242012

Pesches, TIF 6, & Warehouse Direct

Just a few updates from this week's meeting.  Pesches petitioned for and received approval for an electronic sign to replace their traditional sign on River Road.  This new sign will actually be smaller than the existing sign. 

TIF 6 and The Parking Spot development is picking up steam. (my last post on the topic)  The Council approved the preliminary planned unit development (PUD) agreement.  The final details are being hammered out before the final PUD agreement is brought back.  I'm ready to turn this liability around. 

We received word that Warehouse Direct has officially established their business in Des Plaines (May 1) and they'll soon be totally moved into the new facility (June 1).  I'm excited to welcome this business to town.  New jobs and new revenue are a huge win - great job economic development team!

Wednesday
May232012

Flooding Study Available Online

Executive Summary
As requested by the City of Des Plaines (City), this drainage report was prepared by Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. (CBBEL) to summarize the analysis of three study areas within the City: Area 1 - Prairie Avenue and First Avenue, Area 2 - Southeast Place and Grant Drive, and Area 3 - Forest Avenue at Earl Avenue, 4th Avenue, and Cindy Lane. Each of the three study areas experienced flooding during the July 23, 2011 storm event...

Read the complete report

Monday
May212012

River Trail Bike Ride - Saturday, June 2

Last year’s bike ride following the ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the Des Plaines River Trail met with such success that Des Plaines Mayor Martin J. Moylan, in conjunction with the Des Plaines Police Department, decided to do it again!  Everyone who rides a bike is invited to attend the 2nd Annual Des Plaines River Trail Bike Ride, which will get underway at 9 AM, Saturday, June 2, 2012, at the Public Works Garage Facility, 1111 Joseph J. Schwab (Campground) Road, one block east of River Road, off Algonquin Road.

Registration for the free ride, which will be appropriate for all levels of bicyclists, will take place beginning at 8 AM at the Public Works facility.  Registration forms and a bike ride map are available at www.desplaines.org/rivertrailbikeride. Registration forms must be returned to the Police Department or brought to the ride.  All bicyclists are required to wear a helmet and sign a waiver.  Representatives of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital will sell bike helmets for $10.  The course is approximately 9 miles.

Additional sponsors and contributors to date include the Journal and Topics Newspapers, the Des Plaines Park District, Holy Family Medical Center including Advanced Occupational Health , Karas Management, Alexian Reference Laboratory, WJMK-FM / 104.3 K-HITS which will provide entertainment from 10:15 AM – 12:15 PM, and Fifth Third Bank, which will supply an adult ( a  TREK 7000 hybrid) and child’s bicycle (TREK JET 20) from Village Cycle Sport for a contest for ride participants. The contest will be held at the cookout and winners must be present.  Fifth Third Bank will also be providing ice cream, refreshment and various other hand outs.

Des Plaines Police personnel will escort bicyclists along the family friendly bike trail ride which will be approximately 9 miles and will conclude with a free cookout lunch at the Public Works facility where the ride began. 

According to Mayor Martin J. Moylan, last year’s bike ride, held to commemorate the opening of the improved Des Plaines River Trail, met with such success that he and the Des Plaines Police Department opted to do it again:  “We invite families, individuals, and kids of all ages to come out and spend the morning experiencing bicycling along the scenic Des Plaines River Trail. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to experience nature, have fun, and celebrate the community of Des Plaines,” Mayor Moylan said.     

Last year’s ride marked the culmination of a 3-year effort by the City of Des Plaines to improve the Des Plaines River Trail. The project consisted of improving 2.8 miles of the existing Des Plaines River Trail with stone surface, construction of new trail along the north side of Ballard Road, safety features and new signage.  The project was funded in part through a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program grant awarded to the City in 2008.  The trail improvements were conducted in coordination with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County which owns the trail and surrounding Forest Preserves. 

For additional information on the Des Plaines River Trail Bike Ride contact Officer Colin Johnson at 847-391-5410.

Sunday
Apr082012

Help Scout Troop 160 - Buy Mulch!

Boy Scout Troop 160 is holding a mulch fundraiser.  They have 5 colors of mulch at reasonable prices.

$3.50 per bag if picked up at St. Zachary's on 4/28
$4.00 per bag delivered to your house

To learn more, order, and pay for your mulch visit: www.troop160.nwsc.org/mulch/

Wednesday
Apr042012

Pancakes For Life!

Support the American Cancer Society as they prepare for their 2012 Des Plaines / Park Ridge Relay for Life.

Saturday, May 5th  |  8 - 11AM
Trinity Lutheran Church  |  675 E Algonquin Rd.
Des Plaines, IL 60016

Cost: $10 per adult, $5 per child (age 12 and under), $30 for family of 5 or more. 

Print the flyer to share with friends.