Local Government

Quincy City Council expands video gaming, agrees to buy firetrucks, radio system

Larry Mallison plays the Mega Winner video gaming machine at the White Horse Tavern in April. Quincy aldermen voted 10-3 Tuesday to allow all existing liquor license holders in the city to increase the number of video gaming machines each has to three from two. | H-W File Photo/Michael Kipley
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 26, 2017 9:35 pm Updated: Dec. 26, 2017 9:47 pm

QUINCY -- Aldermen voted Tuesday night to expand Quincy's video gaming, buy two new firetrucks, and make a "loan" of $200,000 so that new radios can be ordered for a countywide system.

Two pastors spoke in opposition to the gambling expansion. The Rev. Tom Rains of the First Southern Baptist Church said video gambling is highly addictive and a bad deal for the community.

"Studies show that for every $1 that video gaming takes in, it takes $3 out of a community," Rains said.

The Rev. James Hailey III of Bethel AME said there must be better ways to bring in revenue to the city.

Aldermen later voted 10-3, with one recusal, to allow all existing liquor license holders to increase the number of video gaming machines to three from two, with the city collecting a fee of $100 per machine and maintaining the 5 percent tax on all gaming proceeds.

Since 2012, the city has allowed only two machines per establishment and charged no fee. The city has collected nearly $248,000 this year from $4.958 million collected on 100 gaming terminals operated at 50 businesses in Quincy.

The new ordinance also will create a Class I liquor license for video gaming parlors, which would require the $10,000 annual fee for five machines.

Voting against the expansion were Aldermen Dave Bauer, D-2, Mike Farha, R-4, and Terri Heinecke, R-7. Alderman Jennifer Lepper, R-5, recused herself from voting. Her brother is among those with gaming videos in his place of business.

Alderman Mike Rein, R-5, said he would welcome ideas for how the city should come up with revenue as state funds fall and prices rise.

Rein also offered an amendment that was adopted to allow the purchase of two fire department pumper trucks at a cost of $988,650. The original plan was to use $624,200 from the apparatus replacement fund and borrow $337,700 from Commerce Bank at an annual interest rate of 2.89 percent. Rein said the city should use its own reserve funds instead of a bank loan, especially because the city is only earning about 0.5 percent a year in interest on its unbudgeted funds.

The amended resolution passed 14-0.

Aldermen also voted to forward $200,000 to the Quincy-Adams County 911 Center so that a $1.2 million radio system can be bought for emergency agencies throughout the county. The city's $200,000 will be repaid but is needed now to lock in the price of the radio system.

Steve Rowlands, executive director of the 911 center, said each agency had bought its own radio systems but many of the radios are old and unreliable.

Heinecke cast the lone vote against the plan, saying Quincy residents "pay three times" for 911 services -- through phone surcharges, city taxes and county taxes.

Aldermen also agreed to assign a conservation easement for $1 to the Quincy Park District for an area adjacent to Cedar Creek in the Schneidman Industrial Park. It will be part of the William Klingner Trail.

And the council sent back a budget amendment to the Finance Committee that would increase fire protection salaries at Quincy Regional Airport by $23,740.