ELMHURST – Elmhurst aldermen have sent a sales tax incentive request from a luxury motorcycle dealership to the city attorney to write up documents that will allow them to approve it at a future meeting.
IMotorSports' request is traveling on to the next stage despite alderman Michael Bram's objections. Bram's was the lone "no" vote in the 11-1 victory for the dealership's request. Aldermen Jim Kennedy and Tina Park were absent from the Elmhurst City Council meeting Aug. 7.
Aldermen Michael Honquest, Noel Talluto and Mark Mulliner serve on the Development, Planning and Zoning Committee. The issue had been brought back to the committee after there had been much discussion at a previous City Council meeting.
The request was again discussed at a committee meeting immediately preceding the council meeting Aug. 7.
Bram said that if the dealership is doing well, it doesn't need the money.
"This is too rich for my taste," Bram said at the council meeting, referring to having an up to $500,000, 12-year sales tax incentive for iMotorSports' improvement of real property. He also called the $100,000 upfront incentive to assist with immediate expansion needs essentially an "interest-free loan."
IMotorSports, 334 W. Grand Ave., took over a "dilapidated" piece of property when it first came to Elmhurst to build out the dealership, Honquest said in a phone interview.
Elmhurst had agreed to give iMotorSports a 10-year, 50-50, up to $250,000 sales tax incentive in May 2014 to assist in redeveloping the blighted truck repair center that had been on that site, according to the committee report.
"They have been very successful and are probably going to pass the first sales tax incentive early," Honquest said.
The new sales tax incentive would be in addition to the existing sales tax incentive, according to the committee report.
Manufacturer Polaris had approached iMotorSports about taking on the Indian brand of motorcycles, which would be "very expensive," and prompted iMotorSports to ask the city for help with the buildout expenses, Honquest said. Polaris requires a $1 million showroom expansion and building improvement, a renovated parts and service department, enhanced technical assistance and more employees, as well as an opened point of sale by spring 2018, according to the committee report.
"It's good for us because it's revenue we wouldn't see otherwise if they didn't do the Indian brand...and we'd rather have it here in Elmhurst than, say, in Rosemont, which was another place that was very interested in bringing the brand there," Honquest said.
He said the various car dealerships in Elmhurst have generated a lot of sales tax revenue for the city.
"From the city's perspective, we had jobs, we had a new business and we had additional sales tax, so it works for us, it works for them, because they get to expand their business here in Elmhurst and hopefully be very successful with that and pay us back early," Honquest said.
Bram said in a phone interview after the meeting that the City Council could have negotiated more to try to get a better deal for taxpayers and that Elmhurst needs to be conservative in what it "gives away as an incentive." He said these agreements should be at maximum 10 years, 60-40 in favor of the city and never 50 percent or more of the buildout cost.
"How much do you give to the business versus keeping for the taxpayers? That's the big thing. When I see that the taxpayers are paying for 50 percent of something, that's too much," Bram said.