HAMMOND | Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. spoke Wednesday about proposed developments in the city and the impact of potential casinos in Chicago.
McDermott said during a Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce luncheon that the city is currently relying on gaming revenue and acknowledged that's not a good place to be. McDermott said he expects to see casinos in Chicago's downtown and South Side and that Hammond has found ways to increase its revenue to prepare.
“I hear a lot of people out there, 'Oh once Chicago builds their boats, Hammond isn't going to get gaming revenue.' That's ridiculous,” McDermott said. “It's not going to go to zero. It may not be at $35 (million) as it had been.”
McDermott said when he took office, the city received $42 million in property tax revenue, but the number has plummeted to $26 million with the property tax caps.
Yet, new water contracts with Calumet City and Chicago Heights, where both communities will now pay increased rates for Hammond water, will bring “millions” more of new revenue into the city, McDermott said.
“It's the kind of creativity we have to do because we're broke,” McDermott said, “and when you're broke, you got to get creative on how to make money.”
When asked about new developments coming to the city, McDermott said Cabela's has agreed to pay the city $2.25 million by July to lift a stipulation in the business's original project agreement that would have barred the Walmart on 165th Street from potentially locating near the store at Indianapolis Boulevard and Interstate 80/94.
He also said the potential of the owners of Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery in Flossmoor building a production brewery and restaurant at Kennedy Avenue and I-80/94.
The comments were a prelude to McDermott's State of the City, which he is expected to give this summer.
McDermott ended the hourlong discussion at Dynasty Banquet Center by telling the full room that he expects the county to pass a local option income tax this year. He said the tax will pass, but the question is what form it will take.
“It's going to happen and don't blame me, don't shoot arrows at me,” McDermott said. “I'm just telling you, if you want to know the truth, the county option income tax is going to pass in Lake County in 2013.”