More “Small Stuff” Gone Wrong


This past Monday night provided another micro-economic example of “bad government” on the local level when the City Council rejected – by a vote of 5-0 (Alds. Jim Allegretti (4th) and Robert Ryan (5th) absent) – a Staff recommendation to increase the price of business licenses for the first time since 2006.  

The Staff recommended doubling most of the current modest fees: the contractor’s license would have increased from $50 to $100, certain service businesses from $275 to $550, and retail sales businesses from $175 to $350.  Fees on vending machines also would have increased. 

Why do we consider the Council’s rejection of this recommendation “bad government”?

First and foremost, because we believe that business license fees should be tied to the costs of whatever inspections and processing the City incurs in issuing those licenses.  As we understand it, that is not currently the case – and would not have been the case even if the license rates had doubled, as Staff proposed.  

So it appears that the taxpayers have been subsidizing Park Ridge businesses on these licensing fees for quite some time now, a fact conveniently lost on both the business community and our elected representatives on the Council who decided to pander to those members of the business community who managed to find their way to City Hall to complain about the crushing hardship these fees impose. 

And in what might be a point of interest to people like our MIA Alds. Allegretti and Ryan, who regularly disregard sound economic principles like cost-recovery in favor of simply mimicking what other communities do, yesterday’s Park Ridge Journal reports that the increased licensing fees would have been comparable to, or even lower than, those charged by most nearby communities (“Council Won’t Raise Business License Fees,” Oct. 6). 

Maybe that’s one reason why none of the 5 lemmings/aldermen who voted against raising the fees particularly distinguished themselves with their comments about why they voted that way. 

Ald. Joe Sweeney (1st) suggested that raising the license fees, especially on local businesses run by Park Ridge residents, is akin to double taxation and a declaration that “we don’t want you [businesses] anymore because we’re going to double your fees” – a sentiment echoed by Ald. Rich DiPietro (2nd), who claimed that he supported some kind of increase but not one that might cause the City “to lose any businesses.” 

C’mon, guys…do you really expect us to believe that raising an annual business license fee even $275 (to $550) is tantamount to telling a business to pack up and leave town?  Heck, just changing its phone service and other incidentals to a Des Plaines, Niles or Norridge address would cost a business more than that!  

But that kind of soft-headed thinking pales in comparison to what was expressed by Taste of Park Ridge NFP (“Taste Inc.”) head honcho Dave “Pines” Iglow, who suggested that the revenues the City was trying to generate by these business license increases could be replaced by installing more red-light cameras.  In other words, Mr. Iglow wants the City to recover the cost of administering the business license program by handing out more traffic tickets to Park Ridge residents.

Unfortunately, that’s the kind of disconnected “reasoning” we’ve come to expect from an otherwise reputable business owner like Mr. Iglow and his Taste Inc. buddies as they stiff the City for tens of thousands of dollars of City services (police, fire and public works) provided to Taste of Park Ridge (“TOPR”) while they merrily bank tens of thousands of dollars ($65,000 in 2009 alone) from that three-day event which an asleep-at-the-wheel City Council handed over to them on a no-bid, no accountability basis back in 2005. 

We are pro-business, and we believe the businesses here in Park Ridge contribute much to this community.  But when its members show up at City Hall with what Southerners derisively refer to as “a handful of ‘gimme,’ and a mouthful of ‘much obliged’,” that’s just plain unvarnished greed.

And when our public officials roll over in response to that greed, that’s just plain “bad government.”

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