The Montgomery Village Board on Monday voted to approve a tax rebate program for the proposed Gray's Mill event venue in the downtown area.
Developer Phil Cullen, who owns Ballydoyle and several other restaurants in the suburbs, wants to renovate the old Gray's Mill building and property into several different spaces that can be rented out for weddings and other events.
The proposed tax rebate would pay out up to $150,000 over a fifteen year period to the developer.
Village trustee Steve Jungermann says the loss of some tax revenue in exchange for a major development is worth it.
"It's sales tax that we're giving back to to the developer, but if the developer hadn't developed we wouldn't have anything there anyway," Jungermann said.
Jungermann says the village has been talking for years about finding a big development project for the downtown area and that this is it.
Trustee Tom Betsinger has voiced support for the project, but not the incentives the village is offering. He's concerned that the village will be obligated to give the same incentives to every project that comes to town.
"The sales tax rebate to me is a little over and above," Betsinger says, "given the projected revue and expenses that we've been given for this development project, that extra ten-thousand a year in sales tax isn't going to stop the project."
City Attorney Laura Julien says that not all businesses would qualify for the same incentives being offered to the Gray's Mill project. Trustee Theresa Sperling supports the incentives. She says the sales tax rebate is tied into the development's performance and is the village's way of expressing its confidence in the project.
The board ultimately voted to approve the tax rebate with only Betsinger voting against.
Cullen's group is also asking the city for $400,000 in grant funding from the Montgomery Development Fund for the project which is estimated to cost around $1.8-million. The development fund board approved the grant, but the village board has the final say. The approval of the grant will be voted on at a later meeting.