CALUMET CITY | The City Council on Thursday approved a significant property tax break to part of the site that was once was one of American Sales’ first stores in the south suburbs.
American Sales since has moved that store to Lansing, but still owns the property at 1584 Huntington Drive.
Seventh Ward Alderman Antoine Collins, whose ward includes the site, says American Sales, which sells pool supplies and patio furniture, has found other businesses to occupy about 40 percent of the property. But the other 60 percent has been vacant for at least two years. He said company officials want a Class 8 real estate tax assessment classification from Cook County, which would lower the property taxes by more than half during the next 12 years.
The County Board has final say over granting the tax break, although officials never grant such a break unless local officials first offer their support, which is what Calumet City did Thursday night.
The measure passed by a 6-0 vote, with 6th Ward Alderman Nick Manousopoulos absent.
The approval came with no public discussion, although aldermen previously had met as a committee of the whole last week, during which American Sales officials told them they thought having a reduced tax bill would help encourage new businesses to consider the site.
Collins said people should understand that even with the tax break, any businesses that choose to locate there will still pay some form of property taxes. “It’s not like we’re going to get nothing because of this,” he said.
Aldermen also approved amendments to the city’s overhead sewer grant program, which also were previously discussed at a committee of the whole meeting.
Under the program, people making improvements to their property who encounter sewer lines can get some reimbursement from the city for any added expenses they incur.
Previously, the city could reimburse property owners up to $2,500. With the ordinance approved Thursday, reimbursements can now be as much as $4,000, Collins said.
In other business, the council postponed action on a request by Sprint to install a tower atop the Smiley Face water tank near River Oaks Shopping Center.
Third Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones said attorneys for the city are still reviewing the proposal, and he said final approval could come when the council meets again Oct. 10.
Attorney Joe Montana said legal staff is still working to put together a lease agreement by which Sprint would use the water tower to aid its telecommunications network.