Champaign City Council raises permit fees

By Tracy Douglas

The Champaign City Council voted Tuesday 5-3 to raise sidewalk cafe permit fees. Businesses will be required to pay a rate of five dollars a person based on occupancy.

Deputy Liquor Commissioner Paul Berg said the council requested a review of the fees.

Tiffany Moot, one of the owners of Jupiter, 39 E. Main St., Highdive, 51 E. Main St., and Cowboy Monkey, 6 Taylor St., said the council should not make the decision based on competition.

Councilman Ken Pirok said it was an issue of fairness, and occupancy was a fair way of determining the rate. Councilman Tom Bruno said he did not want to hurt businesses that have helped the downtown.

“I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that these sidewalk cafes have added an ambiance to the downtown,” Bruno said, adding he wanted to encourage more bars to add sidewalk cafes.

“Obviously, citizens think the cafes are a good idea,” Councilwoman Kathy Ennen said.

In other news, the council unanimously approved a proposed municipal code amendment regarding fire sprinklers. It called for installing sprinklers in all University housing, high-rise buildings, and nursing homes within five years.

Bruno said the city needed to set a high standard for safety and to lead by example.

The council also passed a bill to simplify the collection of the telecommunications tax.