State Representative Feigenholtz and Senate President Cullerton: Re write the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Tax boundaries

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My Name is John Corry and I am one of the owners of Four Farthings Tavern & Grill in Lincoln Park. I am writing you today on behalf of 120 bars & restaurants in my area to see if there is anything we can do to redistribute an unfair tax burden from our books called the Metropolitan Pier & Exposition (MPE) Tax. We have a couple of solid ideas rather than just a complaining so please read on.

Apparently, this tax goes back to 1983 and it's based on Navy Pier and McCormick Place. This tax was initiated almost 30 years ago and based on what is now, outdated information. A lot has changed and I believe it is time to revisit this tax. It is extremely unfair not only to my business but thousands of others to take hundreds or in a lot of cases, THOUSANDS off the top MONTHLY with no benefit to those businesses. We are not opposed to getting taxed if we receive collateral business from one or both of these venues. However, we do not. Here is a link to the Tax map boundaries. You will notice two things right away. 1.) The area extends so far away from both McCormick Place and Navy Pier that there is no collateral business in the extended taxed areas. We all know that no one goes anywhere outside McCormick Place to eat or drink during the day and very few people go past 10 blocks of either one of these venues at all unless it is to the tourist destination spot. 2.) The most obvious anomaly is the southern boundary vs. the northern boundary. All things being fair, we should all be taxed evenly regarding a benefit from these two places. The map clearly avoided US Cellular Park, Bridgeport and most of the southern areas of the city when it was created. We have a guess as to why but... Anyway, the MPE zone map was created with bias which can't be denied. This maps ambiguous boundary scoops out businesses as far away as Ashland and just past Diversey as the northern boundry! We had some positive  contact with Sara Feigenholtz office and a promise to look into it from Cullerton's office.  We need your help to make sure this doesn't fall  on deaf ears.  We are heavily taxed and we need representation!

We do well as neighborhood restaurant/bars but between the taxes and rent, some months we are making just enough to keep the doors open. The MPE tax is about $1,100 monthly average for a 1.5 mill gross annual revenue bar and that is a big deal to a small business! We need all of your help to pressure our Illinois State Legislature into redesigning the MPE map to more accurately and fairly reflect the benefiting business of Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

We are even offering two solid ideas;

No one can accurately tell precisely where all the revenue is going from the visitors but common sense tells us that the immediate area around Navy Pier and the tourist attraction areas around Rush, State & Division, Ontario & Ohio etc. get the lions share of those tourist and business peoples dollars. Next is the Wrigley area which has become a tourist attraction of it's own in the last 20 years. The third is US Cellular Park. The Wrigley area and US Cellular are presently not included in the MPE zone yet they are most definitely "go to" spots for out of towners. While we are confident that Four Farthings and some other Lincoln Park bars have received some very minor business from tourists from these venues, We can say with certainty that we are not receiving enough business to justify $1,100 per month! And for the businesses as far as Ashland & Diversey it's actually criminal to extort that kind of money for ZERO benefit. That being the case, it is time to create REALISTIC zones where the tax is charged accordingly. Zones 1,2,3,4,& 5 for example. Rush & State, Ontario & Ohio area are Zone 1. Wrigley is a Zone 2. Lincoln Park a Zone 3 etc. If for some reason the "Zones" become too difficult to accomplish then take a heavy tax burden off just the few which makes no sense to thousands of fringe businesses and distribute it to every business all over the city. These two venues help Chicago and we are proud to have them here. There is a need to support them because it brings traffic to Chicago. However, as stated above, the areas that receive almost no benefit pay the same as those businesses which receive most benefit! That is not right or fair. If the taxing bodies position is that The MPE Tax is for ALL of Chicago then All of Chicago should be taxed. For example, a .0016 percent monthly tax to every retail establishment will be much easier to swallow and in the end, the state of Illinois can raise more revenue. It is a win/win for the state and the tax payer!


John Corry
Four Farthings Tavern & Grill
630 918-6665 cell

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