With one resident calling video gambling "the crack cocaine of gambling," the Arlington Heights village board passed an ordinance outlawing video poker in the village - but leaving the door open for Arlington Park.
Nancy Duel of the 100 block of North Windsor Drive, a longtime opponent of expanding gambling, commended the board for banning video poker in establishments licensed to sell liquor. However, she objected to the possibility it would be allowed at Arlington Park and Trackside, saying video gambling is much faster and more addictive than betting on horse races, even off-track wagering.
The ordinance passed Monday means the board has an open mind toward video gambling at the racetrack but has not made a final commitment to allow it, Village Attorney Jack Siegel said.
State law currently forbids video gambling at racetracks and off-track betting parlors. But if the law is changed, Arlington Park can seek permission from the village board to install video gaming machines, Siegel added.
In other business, the board approved the 2009 property tax levy of $40.6 million, which includes both debt service and $11.6 million for the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. The library increase is 1.8 percent; the village's is 5.7 percent. Most of the village's increase will bring fire and police pension funds up to required levels, Village Manager Bill Dixon said.
Trustee Bert Rosenberg voted against the levy, saying that, considering the current state of the economy, more money should be used to build reserves and not just to put a Band-Aid on the village's financial problems.
The board also instituted 3 percent taxes on electricity and natural gas that will be re-evaluated in two years. Trustees Norman Breyer, Joseph C. Farwell and Bert Rosenberg voted against the utility tax increases. Farwell and Breyer noted the taxes are not deductible from individuals' federal income taxes as property taxes are. Trustee Tom Stengren was absent.
Balancing the budget for the fiscal year, which starts in May, will be very difficult and will include cutting 25 staff positions, including layoffs, Dixon said.