We are unclear just how much sales tax revenue the old Sara Lee Outlet Store on Harlem Avenue brought in. Modest seems the likely answer.

That small retail space in Riverside has recently become the village’s first and only cannabis dispensary and recent projections of current and future sales tax revenues indicate that Star Buds has already become a star performer for Riverside.

This did not happen by accident. Like most towns in Illinois, Riverside has been lobbying, cajoling, adjusting zoning, and generally strategizing to make sure it secured one of the limited dispensaries allowed under current state regs. The village was successful in securing the Star Buds location.

This is important because Riverside will receive a 3% local tax on every pot-related product sold at the dispensary. This is going to multiply into the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars over time. This is a sales tax bonanza and a new stream of revenue that will be core to village finances.

(The village also gives a supporting heads up to the new Sherwin Williams paint store that recently moved across Harlem from Berwyn into Riverside.)

New revenue is hard to come by in Riverside. Without home rule powers it is severely limited in the taxes and fees it can add. Without a large commercial tax base, and no industrial tax base, Riverside is highly reliant on residential property taxes. Any stress new revenues can take off homeowners and multifamily building owners is welcome.

The new budget proposal from the village proposes hiking property taxes by the maximum 5% allowed by law. That is a reasonable reflection of the higher inflation that we have all experienced.

Good work by the village to lure a dispensary. Good work to take advantage of the busy Harlem Avenue corridor to locate the dispensary while keeping it on the village’s periphery.

A good outcome.

Two small things

Along with home runs like the cannabis dispensary, local governments need to hit a lot of singles along the way. Small fixes and attention to issues with the potential to become genuine problems is the stuff of good governance.

Here are two examples:

Brookfield is paying attention to a longtime issue that was either overlooked or not recognized. It is the zoning of the village-owned parks. Until now they have not been zoned for park and recreational use but rather as residential. One odd outcome is that Ehlert Park currently has 62 distinct PIN numbers.

The village planner, the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the village board are at work making this fix.

In Riverside, where large multifamily apartment buildings have been too much ignored with resulting code and quality-of-life issues, a renewed focus has now resulted in a new two-page primer specifying the obligations and responsibilities of both landlords and renters. 

This is small but necessary recognition that Riverside is more than gracious homes. It has a group of tenants who deserve care and protection.