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The Vandalia City Council was scheduled to act on one request for a gaming license and hold the first reading for another request, but both were put on hold.
Before the council takes any action on those two requests, and another one that came in on Monday, the city’s legal counsel wants to look over the minutes from two previous council meetings.
On the Monday agenda was an ordinance amendment that would increase from four the number of Class J licenses, issued for gaming parlors.
That amendment stemmed from an application for a gaming parlor filed by Lester D. Kretzer, who currently is operating three gaming parlors in other communities.
The council was also scheduled to hold the first reading of a Class J license request from Ray Malhortra of Hillsboro.
Prior to the council agreeing to table any action at the recommendation of City Attorney Ryan Connor, Kretzer told aldermen that his parlors have generated substantial amounts for three other communities, including $72,135 from 2018-20 in Mt. Vernon and $55,000 in Chester from 2019-20.
After Kretzer’s presentation, Alderman Ken Hubler told why he was not in favor of granting any more gaming parlor licenses.
“Now, our liquor licenses for Class J is limited to four,” Hubler said. “That’s why I voted for that Class J, to keep the limit at four, and that was agreed upon when we voted.”
That’s when Connor entered into the conversation.
“I don’t want to steal your (Hubler’s) thunder, but I actually want to take a close look at that,” Connor said.
“I’m actually going to make a recommendation that you table this tonight.
“It has nothing to do with this gentleman’s petition, and I have no problem with you guys continuing to ask your questions about his specific petition, but I do think that an explanation of some of the minutes and how this has proceeded between Aug. 15, 2016, and late 2017 is probably in order before we move on this. yIt’s about how we proceeded between those two dates that I think needs an exposition before you move forward,” Connor said.
“I’m going to do the best I can to parse out what exactly happened previously, what you have sort of done here in terms of how we got to this place, where we have these licenses, and what the implications are moving forward, so you can have those things in front of you when you make the discussion, because, really, the question that’s going to be posed to you when you’re looking at this is, if you’re going to expand the number of licenses or not,” he said.
“The real question that I think you need an answer to in advancement proceeding is what you did in some of these meetings past,” Connor said.
“I don’t care (whether aldermen are) for or against (more Class J licenses). What I want to make sure of is the implications of what you’ve done at at least two prior meetings with regards to limitations on licensing for both gaming and liquor,” he said.
“I want to make sure that I understand what you’ve done in the past and if I’m going to give you any advice going forward, what I’m telling you tonight is, I’m not 100 percent sure what the implications of those things,” Connor said.
Those implications, Mayor Rick Gottman said, could include the council’s action, or technically, inaction several years ago.
In November 2016, the council was asked to approve licenses for the Mach 1 convenience store and Discount Tobacco House.
Those license requests were essentially denied when there was no motion to increase the number of gaming licenses.
Hubler also said he’s opposed to increasing the number of gaming licenses due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on those bars and restaurants that offring gaming.
Those businesses were for an extended time prohibited from allowing customers to use their gaming machines.
That’s one reason, Hubler said, for those businesses being “in dire straits.”
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The council approved the low bid of $4,135 from Durbin’s Overhead Door Inc. of Vandalia for the replacement of an overhead door at the city garage.
Altamont Overhead Door submitted a bid of $4,216.
• The council accepted the bid of 1,850 from Robert Simmons LLC for the demolition of a city-owned house at 1319 W. Randolph St.
Other bidders were: Grubaugh Contracting, $3,850; and Richland Improvement LLC, $6,500.