In addition to asking for changes to the fee-waiver resolution, village trustees questioned a proposed ordinance that sought to grant economic incentives to Riverside business owner Scott Zimmer for a new sandwich shop, to be called Sawmilly, next to his restaurant, The Chew Chew.
As presented, the deal would have rebated 100 percent of the places-of-eating tax paid by Zimmer at Sawmilly, up to $20,000, over a two-year period.
But both Sedivy and Pollock questioned the deal, though they did not argue with the concept of providing such incentives generally. Both trustees specifically questioned the $20,000 ceiling on the tax rebate because it appeared to be arrived at arbitrarily.
“I don’t know where the $20,000 cap comes from,” Sedivy said.
Sells said Zimmer estimated sales at the new restaurant likely would bring roughly $6,000 per year in places-of-eating tax revenue and that the higher cap was there as an additional incentive.
“But he wouldn’t need the benefit if he’s performing greater than expectations,” Sedivy said.
Sells argued that the point of the incentive was to make Riverside appear open and welcome for new businesses.
Pollock agreed that such incentives sent a message to prospective businesses, but he also noted that Sawmilly, slated to go into the space at 35 E. Burlington St., is coming with or without incentives.
Zimmer has already filed building plans and Village Manager Jessica Frances confirmed last week that Zimmer’s new restaurant is moving ahead.
Pollock suggested lowering the rebate cap to $6,000 for the first year and cutting it by 50 percent the second year, though the deal could be tweaked depending on the success of the business that first year.
But Trustee Patricia Collins argued forcefully in favor of the incentive proposed for Sawmilly, saying, “It makes a statement.”
“I don’t want to have the image that we’re good with businesses as long as you beg us for things and then we’ll consider and give you something,” said Collins, who argued that the village’s incentives should help businesses succeed, which in turn will benefit the community.
“Each business that we can bring in that is successful is not only good for them, but also fills that storefront and makes another business want to come in,” Collins said.
Ballerine, meanwhile, suggested that the village owed Zimmer something of a debt of gratitude for the past investments he’s made in the village and Zimmer’s continuing faith in the village’s commercial viability
“We should do whatever we can to help him be as successful as he possibly can in his new venture,” Ballerine said. “I think we owe it to him, to be honest with you. If we succeed as a village, a lot of it has to do with Scott.”
In a separate interview, Francis said that Zimmer’s incentives agreement would come back to the board table in the future, possibly after construction is completed.