Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A Scary Budget "Buster"

Evidently most of the people I talked to recently didn’t read the article in the JS on 10/27/04 titled “Park Board proposes budget-boosters.” Maybe people aren’t paying much attention to budgets because of elections, Christmas shopping, watching the Cubs, I’m sorry, I mean the Cards playing in the World Series. So I’ll condense it on this site:

1. After building a $137.000.00 fence around Luthy Gardens, (The Park Board had to borrow the money to pay for the fence) visitors will be charged to enter this garden.
2. Golf fees will be hiked again, a proposed $20.00 to 415.00 a year.
3. Central Pool will be closed again for the summer.
4. The budget for the RiverPlex will be hiked by 13% or $4.03 million.
5. The overall budget will be hiked from approximately $33,000,000.00 to approximately $44,700,000.00.
6. The new budget assumes that the Zoological Society will raise $10,000,000.00 more then what has already been raised and pay the park back. Consider this amount a loan that may not ever be paid back.
7. New bonds will be sold to cover the $782,000.00 principal and interest on the Riverplex, on the Golf Learning Center, and several other projects for which the park borrowed to build. (Fourth year in a row)

The budget plans are laid out for the public to see before the Park Board meeting at 6:00 P.M. , Wednesday Oct. 27. The budget will be approved on Nov. 3.
To me, this is scary stuff but I guess not very many people care. Without protest, I calculate that after the zoo runs into the same red ink the Riverplex creates, (I predict it will come close to the same figures of $6,000.00 to $7,000.00 a day) after the new children’s Playhouse is built, after the Park headquarters is moved to a new location, (Bonnie says she will need 33,000 square feet of space), after the Park’s financial contributions to the new museum (with your money, of course), and other projects such as the softball diamonds, the budget will reach $60,000,000.00 in this decade or at least by 2015. Remember, all bonds the park sells are the amounts borrowed not the payback amount. The Park owed $15,530.000.00 principal in outstanding bonds on 12/31/03, but actually will need to pay an additional $6,745.437.00 in interest, so amount actually due in time, is $22,275,437.00. Add in all the new projects and their respective losses, (based on the PPD history), and the many dollars needed to maintain these projects, I could even be $10,000,000.00 low. And don’t leave out the higher costs of pensions, salaries, health care, insurance, increased travel and consultants. The good news is you won’t be able to learn how much the PPD lost last year until the 12/31/04 financial statement comes out in June or July of 2005, which will be after the two board incumbents get reelected in March 2005.
So go ahead, keep approving these projects. Your children and grandchildren are going to be paying for it. Not mine, my children live in areas with leaders with more common sense who create affordable neighborhoods with all the amenities they need.

At the 10/26/04 board meeting, the manager of RiverPlex said that the Riverplex has 6900 members but he didn’t know how many contracts!! Say what?? It’s the number of CONTRACTS that count!! I know of one contract where nine people use the same contract. He knows the number of paid contracts or he shouldn’t be the manager!! The park administration doesn’t want to admit there are only about 2400 paid contracts and approximately 1200 free contracts, totaling about 6900 members. On 6/16/1999. the projection made by one of the many the consultants on this project, was the PPD would need at least 5,000 contracts to break even. No problem said Bonnie and everybody on the board but Jim Cummings. Mr.Cummings is quoted in the JS on 3/1999, as saying “RecPlex will chase Peorians out of the city.” Thousands of other people knew what the high priced administrator of the PPD knew too, but fame and fortune meant more than common sense. (Some administration and board members and families just got back from an all expenses paid trip to Reno, Nevada) Don’t believe me check it out but make the PPD show you how these expenses were handled. Had the Peoria County Board been involved in a public financed trip to Reno, the JS would have had this taxpayer paid event on the front page!!

I leave you with some encouraging news in the Business Section of today’s JS by writer Paul Gordon. Paul says” The most rapidly growing occupation in Central Illinois in this decade is expected to be waiters and waitresses. Or that the number of people moving out of this region far exceeds the number moving in? Peoria County had 4,297 more people move out than moved in over the last three years.”

Have a good day!


Rob said...

Well, Merle, at least you don't have to waste any more time watching the Cards choke, errr, tank, errr, appear in the World Series.

Merle Widmer said...


Now we can watch and listen to all the mudslinging. Can you remember who started it? One guy that hasn't thrown any mud is my fellow county board member, Tim Riggenbach. One guy most people could feel good about voting for him.

Thanks for your comments!!