Thursday, April 21, 2005

Water Logged #7

You may want to go into my archives and pull up my blog on “conceptions, misconceptions, perceptions, subtle falsehoods and outright lies.” You have heard or read all of the above in the eight year debate about a city buyout of the water company. You also may want to go into my archives and read my 6 previous blogs on this subject. Any way let’s review what has been said to date:

“We don’t want a German company owning our water. This falls under the category of outright lies. All water in the United States is classified as a “natural resource” and no domestic or foreign company can own any of Peoria’s water.

“Illinois-American makes too much profit”. That falls under misconceptions because I doubt any of the millionaires (PAAG) that put up the million for the study would admit the businesses they owned “made to much profit”. Who is qualified to say anyone makes too much profit? Do you want to challenge Caterpillar and the holders of Caterpillar stock and question if they are making to much profit?

“85% of the water in the United States is owned by the public.” This falls under the category of subtle falsehoods. Public entities such as Brimfield, Timber-Logan Water District, Morton, Goodfield, Carlock, Deer Creek, Snowflake, Heyworth and most small communities across the US make up 85% of the total ownership of the right to mine, purify, and distribute the water in their communities. By no means do they own the right to mine 85% of all the WATER in the U.S! When communities like Snowflake or Show Low, Arizona were founded and digging wells and building cisterns were no longer feasible, the citizenry established public water districts with pumping stations for anyone who wanted to hook up and pay and these communities have usually kept ownership ever since. These small entities make up the major part of the 85% of water districts that are publicly owned. Few private companies could make a profit in owning small watershed districts.

“We don’t want foreigners owning our water company”. This falls under the category of conceptions and perceptions. More than 85% of all our oil we use in the U.S. is purchased from foreign companies. These countries are selling us their most valuable natural resource. More than half our transportation stock is manufactured by foreign countries, much of it built and sold in the U.S. In event of an unlikely war with Germany, the U.S. would nationalize all water companies if they suspected any wrongdoing possibilities. If a German owned company wanted to build anything in Peoria and promised jobs, the community would roll out the “red carpet” and would subsidize them, give them tax abatements, create TIF districts, and maybe even free land, unless of course they would be in direct competition with Caterpillar. If you are not aware, Caterpillar is the dominant force in this community and by selling approximately one half of their products to foreign countries, provide some of the best paying jobs in the whole Central Illinois area.

“With much of the country getting worried about the lack of water, we must control it”. This statement falls under the category of stupidity, which I didn’t list above. Much of the water you drink comes from the Illinois River. When the Illinois River runs dry, you and everything else will be dead so why worry.

“The purchase price will actually be between $242,000,000.00 and $248,000,000.00”. This is correct. Included in these larger figures is the amount the city will need to pay Illinois-American for investments in the water system since December, 2003. That’s part of the agreement. The city will have to pay its attorneys, consultants and engineers to conduct due diligence before the purchase is finalized. The final figure will be considerably more that $220,000,000.00.

I believe that PAAG did not lend the city a million dollars. I was told that the million was made available and the city drew as need all the while paying 9% interest. (Later reduced to 6%) I’m told that interest amounted to somewhere around $140,000.00 and that was deducted from the million so that the city only received approximately $860,000.00. Will someone following this folly, give me accurate figures to date because the city is still paying interest to PAAG as I write.

Smart communities know that with the complexities of running government, it is best to sell off or farm out many of the functions that do not fall under the classification of “core business”. Ownership of a water company does not fall under the definition of “core business”. It’s not smart to commit over half a billion dollars (includes interest on the bonds due every year for 30 or 35 years) on a buyout that the city manager says would cause the city to raise the cost of water over 3% a year. These possible losses or profits are usually guesswork anyway. Look at the RiverPlex and ballpark as prime examples of guesses gone badly astray. Even Damons guessed wrong or were mislead.

I do not question the possibility of the city trying to lowball a deal which might have turned a profit for the city but when the price went $180,000,000.00 over then Councilman David Ransburg guess back in the nineties, common sense was not shown again by the “yea” voters from the present city council. Two of the “yea” voters will be up for election in two years.

Some reasoning by “yea” voters didn’t make sense Tuesday night, such as “the public wasn’t informed”? B---S---! Most voters said no from the beginning, including my councilman Patrick Nichting. The PAAG, City Council members, the press and Illinois-American (including one forum I attended and less than 50 people were in attendance) made every effort to inform the public. You say the referendum wasn’t worded correctly? I haven’t seen many that were worded totally correctly including the recent election combining referendum that would have saved the taxpayer over a million dollars in five years.

New leadership, (three of the “yea” voters were ousted) let’s get on with doing a better job of running the city I live in!!


Anonymous said...

I was told that PAAG loaned the money to the Council to study buying the water company, and if the City bought it or buying it was deemed financially unfeasible, then the loan didn't have to be re-paid. I can't find your interest rate info in the City budget.

I think PAAG's involvement is a bit like the fox watching the hen house. PAAG is just a branch of The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, which is composed of major developers like Mike Wisdom and David Joseph. They want desperately to develop out North and think if the City owns the water company, it will be easier to do so.

Also, doesn't Illinois own the WATER itself? I was told that Illinois American simply owns the infrastructure/delivery system. It's not like the Germans could sell the water to Colorado or California if they wanted to. That's why the industry is overseen by the Commission. To protect the consumer, yes?

Anyway, GREAT article, GREAT blog.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and does so in a way that tries to treat everyone the same, something that some locals find unacceptable.

Merle Widmer said...

All correct!! Since I may not always know who is commenting, give me your email address and/or your blog site if you wish.

Keep commenting!