Council Waives Liquor License Fees, Endorses Riverwalk Plan, Gets Financial Report

Eagle St. Gateway of the 2031 Riverwalk master plan.
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While the bulk of Tuesday’s Naperville City Council meeting was a discussion of the Heritage Place development, which the group okayed for the Little Friends property, there were several other notable items on the agenda.

Liquor License Waivers

The city will waive some liquor and tobacco fees to help ease some financial stress for businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a six-month waiver on renewal fees for tobacco and cigarette dealers, as well as license fees for businesses that serve alcohol on their premises.

There will also be a one-year waiver for outdoor seating permit fees, which are applicable from May 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021.

“Our businesses, our restaurants are struggling immensely and any tax that we are inflicting upon them could be a door open or a door closed,” said Councilwoman Patty Gustin.

“Every little bit helps,” added Mayor Steve Chirico.

These waivers will cost the city about $120,000 in expected revenue.

New restrictions for Will and DuPage County restaurants will go into effect October 23, as mandated by Governor J.B. Pritzker, due to increases in rolling positivity rates in Regions 7 and 8, respectively. Indoor service will be prohibited and those businesses must close by 11 p.m.

Riverwalk Master Plan

riverwalk master plan

Map of Naperville Riverwalk with project sites. Credit: Riverwalk Commission

Later in the meeting, council also endorsed the Riverwalk 2031 Master Plan. The document shows what the Riverwalk Commission hopes the Riverwalk will look like by 2031 on its 50-year anniversary.

riverwalk master plan

Conceptual Art depicting the Main Street to Washington Street section of the Riverwalk. Credit: Riverwalk Commission

That could include various future attractions like redeveloping the Main Street to Washington Street section, an East Bank Riverwalk extension, and a south gateway that extends past Martin Avenue.

“I really like what they’re proposing here,” said Chirico. “Very forward-thinking. If this all gets done as proposed it’s going to be so cool for this Riverwalk.”

Councilwoman Judy Brodhead, who sits on the Riverwalk Commission as the council representative, said they hope to secure much of the funding for these projects through donations. That way, taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the entire cost, which is expected to be between $9.5 million and $13 million.

You can view the entire plan, along with details for each proposed project by downloading the attachment it at this link.

riverwalk master plan

Conceptual drawing of the Eagle Street Gateway. Credit: Riverwalk Commission

Financial Report

City staff also provided council with an updated financial report, as they have done once a month since the start of the pandemic.

Finance Director Rachel Mayer reported Naperville’s state sales tax came in 4.5% above their projections in the month of July, which was likely due to strong auto sales.

State income tax was 18.4% above the city’s projection, and the local use tax was 49.5% above projections, likely due to an increase in online sales.

“While there are reasons to be optimistic, we continue to take a conservative view moving into 2021, as we have yet to see any clear trends established beyond the fact that revenues have recovered from July lows,” said Mayer.

Food and Beverage taxes were up 5% in August compared to July, though Mayer warned that the upcoming restrictions on indoor dining would likely see a dip in that revenue stream.

The best news from the report, though, was the updated General Fund projection. At the start of the pandemic, staff estimated an $18 million revenue shortfall. That was later updated to a $12 million shortfall. On Tuesday, staff further refined that estimate to a $5.3 million shortfall before CARES Act dollars are added. Factoring in the CARES Act funds the city requested, Naperville should have a $1.9 million overage in the fund going into 2021.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.


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