03/28/2006 12:00AM

Fairmount tax relief bill passes


A bill that would save beleaguered Fairmount Park some $1.37 million per year by reducing the track's parimutuel tax from 1.5 percent to .25 of a percent passed the Illinois state Senate on Monday and has gone before Gov. Rod Blagojevich to be signed into law or vetoed.

State representative Jay Hoffman, whose legislative district includes Fairmount, which is located near St. Louis in Collinsville, Ill., filed the bill on Jan. 1. It passed the House later that month and cleared the Senate this week in its third reading.

The bill doesn't name Fairmount explicitly but refers to a "track that borders the Mississippi River and conducted live racing in the previous year," and Fairmount is that racetrack.

Fairmount's gain, however, would be a loss for the cash-strapped Illinois budget. Fairmount has advertised the measure as essential for its continued survival and a means of turning part-time jobs to full-time. With its meet reduced to 90 days this season, Fairmount has said it could expand its season while increasing purses if the bill became law.