CRESTON — At Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Creston Village Board, discussion was held regarding increasing gaming fees after a state law changed that allows fees per terminal to be increased from $25 to $250.
The only business in Creston with video gaming is Moose Knuckle Bar & Grill, which has six machines. The owners of the business attended the meeting Tuesday and called a potential increase from $25 to $250 “a huge increase for a small business.”
Last month, the Rochelle City Council approved future gaming fee increases. Gaming fees will be raised in Rochelle gradually over a three-year period starting Jan. 1, 2023 to $100, to $150 on Jan. 1, 2024 and to $250 on Jan 1, 2025.
Creston Village Attorney David Tess said he was recently contacted by the City of Rochelle about the gaming fee increase and that the village always had a “good faith relationship” with the city to maintain fees similarly.
“I have their ordinance and the increase is not substantial,” Tess said. “I think we're going to have to put it on the agenda next month and we'll bring in an ordinance that would be commensurate with what the City of Rochelle is doing. It plays into the boundary agreement and having similar policies. We have a boundary agreement to stay in-step with what Rochelle does.”
Village President Tom Byro said during the meeting that the village did not receive an Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Rebuild Illinois Main Street & Downtown grant it applied for in the amount of $780,000, $195,000 of which would have been matched locally by the village if awarded.
The grant application included reconstruction of Creston’s downtown including new water mains and storm sewer, reconstruction of the street, all new sidewalks, curb and gutter, parking and more.
Village Engineer Kevin Bunge said he’s received a quote for maintenance work that the village plans to do on Well Three. Creston has two wells (well two and well three). Well three was drilled in 1980 and has never been pulled to be examined for maintenance. Pulling well three means replacements to its equipment will be made at a cost of around $40,000.
Bunge said the quote he’s received includes a temporary pump to place in well three as a contingency plan while maintenance is ongoing. He plans to bring a report on the quote to the board for its next meeting.
Preparation is ongoing for a village water main project that it plans to use American Rescue Plan Act Funds for. Creston is looking at two different areas including replacing a two-inch main by Cederholm Street and separate work in the area of Ridge Street, Transit Street and the railroad tracks.
Bunge said due to increasing costs and an issue with an easement the village needs, he recommends the village only do the Cederholm Street work at this point.
Eric Petry attended the meeting and addressed the board. Petry farms 144.6 acres of the village’s land under a lease and has an option to renew it for another year.
“I would like to come before the board and offer it a little bit more money this year,” Petry said. “We have historically higher commodity prices, but my inputs are a lot higher. But I can afford going into next year in good faith to increase the rent to $20 more an acre than I'm paying now. That will bring it up to $330 per acre. Next year at this time I'd like to talk more about the future. I know there's some ground up by the landfill that might come into play in the next couple of years."
Byro told Petry that the board would discuss the issue and get back to him.
The board spoke with Mark Hill at the meeting. Hill farms property across Illinois Route 38 and has been experiencing issues with drainage. He requested that the village board get involved with a tile reconstruction project he is looking into to ease future drainage issues.
The board showed interest in working with Hill and asked him to come back in the future with numbers on what the village's portion of the project could be.
"I think the village needs to take some responsibility for this," Byro said. "I don't know how much. See if you can come up with some options and come back to us. We want to be good neighbors."
During the meeting, the board discussed its desire to take action to clean up multiple abandoned properties in the village. Byro tasked Village Building Inspector Casper Manheim and Tess with working on the issues, including taking legal action and potentially purchasing the properties.
"I think it's time this board takes some action," Byro said. "I know we're not in the property management business, but I think it's time we spent a little money to get these things taken care of. Let's bite the bullet and see if we can get some of these places cleaned up. I'm tired of driving around town and looking at these places. It's a safety hazard. Let's do something."