GLENWOOD | Although hopes have not been completely abandoned that Wal-Mart may reverse a reported decision to relocate from Glenwood, officials have begun to prepare for the loss of tax dollars associated with its move.
Glenwood Village President Kerry Durkin said in December that Wal-Mart informed him of its intention to vacate its location in Glenwood at 103 W. Holbrook Road. He said no date for the move was given. Wal-Mart officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Homewood Village President Rich Hofeld has said Wal-Mart has indicated it will open a Super Wal-Mart in the summer 2015 at a former SuperKmart at 17550 Halsted St. in Homewood.
Durkin estimates Wal-Mart brings in about $1.55 million for the village annually, with about $1 million coming in the form of property taxes.
"I don't see it being an impact until the next fiscal year," he said.
Durkin said he thinks attrition is the best way to deal with such a blow to the budget, and the village has already experienced that.
"What we've done in terms of preparation is we haven't replaced two police officers," village Trustee Terry Campbell said.
But attrition may not be the only strategy that will have to be employed.
"Ultimately, if they leave, and if it's not re-marketed in a timely manner and another use goes in there, there will be layoffs," Durkin said. "There's no getting around it. There's got to be layoffs, or you find an alternate source of revenue."
Durkin has high hopes for the earning potential of a cell tower on village-owned property just north of the Glenwood Oaks restaurant.
"We are going to have the ability on that tower to offer wireless Internet at a very high speed to an almost 10-mile radius of that tower," Durkin said.
He said that once the necessary fiber optics are added to the tower the village will be able to sell WiFi to both homes and businesses.
"Governments have to at some point in time start looking outside the box for money," Durkin said.
He said recouping the potential loss in sales tax is the main goal since property taxes will still be received, although perhaps at a lower rate due to the type of use at the location.
He hopes Wal-Mart does not leave the property vacant for long if they do proceed with the move.
"I will fight to keep their tax as an empty building at exactly the rate it is today," Durkin said.
The blow of losing Wal-Mart may be softened if the Homewood Village Board goes along with Hofeld's stated desire to create an intergovernmental agreement in which 10 percent of the sales tax generated from the Super Wal-Mart would be given to Glenwood for three years.
Durkin said he has asked Wal-Mart for the right to be the first to buy the property, and for its current sales numbers.
"I've received nothing, no communication from corporate Wal-Mart in response to either one of those two items," he said.
Campbell also said Wal-Mart has been unresponsive to the village's attempts to try to offer incentives to keep the store in Glenwood.
He thinks Wal-Mart may have a desire to be nearer to the Interstate 80 exit on Halsted Street.
"Wal-Mart likes to be near expressways, and they're closer there," Campbell said. "So I don't know if there's anything we can do to stop 'em from moving out."
Durkin said he does not know if there is a chance Wal-Mart might change its mind and stay.
"When they're gone, I'll believe it," he said. "I'll tell you what though, if they were gone a couple months ago, I had a factory that would have gone in that building right then."