081617-blm-loc-13portillos

Customers line up outside Portillo's in Normal in August before the restaurant opened on its first day.

DEREK BEIGH, THE PANTAGRAPH

PEORIA — Will fans of the Chicago-based Portillo's chain be deterred by an additional sales tax on their Italian beef or hot dog?

That question was among many raised this week at a Peoria City Council meeting that addressed the subject of sales taxes assessed in Special Service Areas.

Council members differed on sales tax incentives for SSA districts, a matter that's become a hot topic since the developer of the land across from Westlake Shopping Center has said a sales tax increase is needed to induce Portillo's to set up shop there.

While 3rd District Councilman Tim Riggenbach and At Large Councilman Sid Ruckriegel raised questions over creating a single-property SSA, 2nd District Councilman Chuck Grayeb and 4th District Councilman Jim Montelongo said the deal would be good for the city. Grayeb also suggested stores could post a notice of the tax to alert the public.

Ruckriegel charged that the tax amounted to corporate welfare, while Grayeb said it didn't.

Mayor Jim Ardis said more discussion was needed on the issue. He also said incentives are required to do business, particularly in Illinois where state funding is lacking. "Muncipalities have to work harder these days because of the state," he said. Ardis also suggested a 10-year limit on the SSA tax while suggesting that a precedent would be created if SSA incentives are passed.

"Expect other businesses to follow and say, 'We want that, too,'" Ardis said.

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