Tax incentive, hotel site key in Fox Lake election

FOX LAKE – The village of Fox Lake is missing opportunities to grow, the challenger to the village president in the April 9 election said.

Village Trustee Donny Schmit, along with a slate of Common Sense Party candidates, is running against Village President Ed Bender and other incumbents that make up the Focused on Fox Lake Party.

“Our village has so much potential,” Schmit said.

Schmit decided to run when the Village Board in August narrowly approved a sales tax rebate of up to $150,000 for Fox Lake’s 13th gas station – Thorntons at Route 12 and Grand Avenue.

In his only vote as village president, Bender broke the tie and approved the deal.

Under the five-year agreement, after the village receives the first $150,000 in sales tax, Thorntons would receive up to $150,000 in a 50-50 split of sales tax revenue to repay Thorntons for the landscaping on village-owned land that was required under the village’s comprehensive plan, Bender said.

Thortons agreed to the landscaping requirements when its zoning application was considered and approved, Schmit said, adding that he didn’t think it was fair to other businesses to give Thorntons the sales-tax deal.

Bender disagreed, saying the village asked Thorntons to do more than the business normally would do on property it didn’t own.

Schmit said that if elected he wants to develop a marketing plan to entice businesses to move to Fox Lake and hire a community development director, which he said would cost money but not as much as the tax incentive.

He also said he supports luring a hotel and restaurant to Fox Lake – Bender said that will be his first priority if re-elected – but that village-owned Lakefront Park is the wrong location for it.

“We have a lot of vacant lots on the river,” Schmit said. “We should explore those options before we start giving away village property.”

He said he also wants input from the community.

Community engagement is the main concern of Niki Warden. She’s running on Schmit’s ticket for village clerk against Kimberly Mate, who was appointed to the position in March.

Warden said she wants to work toward improving voter turnout and sees her role as a liaison among the board, staff and residents. Warden was an office manager for eight years and currently is a stay-at-home mom.

The party’s three candidates for trustee seats on the Village Board are Bernice “Bernie” Konwent, Ron Stochl and Jeff Jensen.

Konwent is president of the Leisure Village Association. She was a buyer planner for 20 years for a hygiene company.

Stochl is a warehouse manager for a petroleum company. He’s also been chairman of the Fox Lake Zoning Board of Appeals for more than 20 years.

Jensen co-owns Continental Real Estate, a management service company for people looking to rent out their homes.

Schmit is set to retire in the next couple of months from the construction company he started 20 years ago.

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