Village of Rosemont spent more than $64 million on entertainment in 3-year span
Despite its residents dealing with a high county and state tax burden, the village of Rosemont has spent millions on frivolous entertainment costs in recent years. Taxpayers shelled out $65,000 for pizza joint.
Though Rosemont – a small village just outside Chicago – has only 4,200 residents, leaders there felt it necessary to spend more than $64 million on entertainment from 2015-2018.
Rosemont is well known as a suburban entertainment hub. It’s home to hotels, shops, restaurants, independent baseball and softball stadiums, a convention center, arena and theater. But local taxpayers, already dealing with a high county and state tax burden, had to foot much of the bill.
From 2015-2018, Rosemont leaders spent:
- $60 million in tax increment financing, or TIF, for a stadium for the Chicago Dogs, an independent baseball team
- $3 million in revenue sharing to the Chicago Wolves hockey team
- Over $250,000 in catering costs for Rosemont Catering
- Nearly $240,000 on video development to Big Shoulders Digital Video Productions
- $225,000 to iFly Indoor Skydiving toward a lease
- Over $200,000 to Verizon Wireless for cellphone service
- Nearly $200,000 to Disturbing Productions LLC to operate a haunted house
The village also paid $65,000 to pizza maker Gino’s East.
TIFs help fund other Rosemont entertainment spending. Rosemont is only two-square miles but it has five TIF districts presently intended to promote economic development. By law, TIF districts freeze property taxes for other taxing bodies at the level of when the TIF was first created and keeps revenue constant for those bodies for up to 23 years. Any revenue collected above that amount is put into a special fund the municipality controls for an economic development project.
So property tax wealth that could have gone to core local government functions instead went to entertainment projects, such as hotels, restaurants and sports. TIF, combined with other focus on entertainment projects, might be of questionable worth to taxpayers there. But the dedication to this kind of spending has been a nice financial boon for those who run the village.
The Stephens family, which has managed Rosemont since the village was founded in 1956, has had family members making extravagant salaries despite the modest local median household income. Rosemont Mayor Brad Stephens and his nephew Christopher Stephens, executive director of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, are both among the highest-paid municipal executives in the world, making more than $250,000 a year each. Meanwhile, the median household income in Rosemont was just $47,000 from 2015-2018.
Rosemont leaders would be best served focusing on core government services and ways to alleviate the area’s high tax burden. While entertainment options are a nice luxury for a municipality to have, they are just that – a luxury, not a priority. Overburdened taxpayers in the collar counties can’t afford to have additional tax dollars flowing to hotels, restaurants or independent baseball teams. They instead need relief, and much of that comes with local government cutting back on waste.