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Bill letting Hammond add a food and beverage tax signed into law

JoeyBLS Photography

A bill allowing Hammond to add a food and beverage tax was signed into law Wednesday by Governor Eric Holcomb. The measure lets the city council add a one-percent tax for bars and restaurants for up to 20 years.

That revenue could then be used to build a downtown West Lake Corridor station and develop the downtown area. It can also be used to upgrade the Hammond Sportsplex and the Pavilion at Wolf Lake Memorial Park.

During Monday's city council meeting, Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. thanked the bipartisan group of lawmakers who supported the bill. "This is a bill that could generate $30 million, conservatively, for us," McDermott said. "So, towards those three projects, that's a big deal."

McDermott said the city still needs to get all its ducks in a row before he presents the council with a formal proposal.

This comes as Hammond is seeing a major drop in casino revenue, due to newer options in Gary and Illinois. The mayor said the city's casino revenue is off 28 percent from its highpoint, which equates to a loss of roughly $10 million a year.

"I think the glory days of the casino are behind us, being honest, so we're preparing as though that's the case," he told council members.

McDermott said Hammond is starting to make up for some of that loss with an increase in water revenue. The city is also analyzing its garbage and recycling rates.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.