Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Growth - Peoria County

“New council’s job will be how to keep 'em in Peoria once they’ve seen suburbia” is an Editorial by the JSEB. This editorial says “Evidence of suburban flight comes from the U.S. Census Bureau that surrounding community’s are attracting wealthier residents. There are other indicators of suburban flight: Nearly one half of the students in School Dist #150 qualify for free lunches and textbooks; the population of Germantown Hills doubled in the last decade, while Peoria’s dropped; building permits, especially for single-family homes, have been steadily on the rise on the East side of the river. The Woodford County Zoning Administrator says people move “to get away from the crowdedness.”

While there are some who want to plant a home on an acre, we’re inclined to think more are leaving Peoria because they perceive that property taxes are lower elsewhere, there are concerned about schools and they fear the spread of crime and gangs into their neighborhoods.

Could Peoria become a bigger East St. Louis or a smaller Detroit? Not as long as the city has jobs to offer. Those with young children must believe their children will get a quality education in Peoria. They must trust that their investments will pay dividends in the future.

The future. That’s the charge for the new City Council and the Mayor. All Peorians have a stake in their success.

Written in 2005? No, published by the JSEB on May 4, 1993 over 12 years ago!!

I bring this up because Peoria County has been holding meetings with realtors and developers on an updated Subdivision Ordinance. The county wants to make it’s zoning more consistent and in the best interest of all concerned. While statistics show that Peoria County ranks 83rd out of 102 counties in new growth, I hasten to point out that it is not the new ordinance that has slowed growth. The revised ordinance hasn’t even gone into effect yet and will not be enacted without a general consensus that we are all moving in the right direction.

It was pointed out, in our Land Use meeting today, that we want people from across the river to come to Peoria to shop at private businesses such as retail stores, grocery stores, restaurants, ect. I point out that this is good for Peoria County and City, however, people come over to use our enhancements such as the RiverPlex, ball park, zoo, museums, ect; none of them paying any property taxes, just the fee of membership, admission or use. They can go back across the river, but we Peorians are stuck with the rising property taxes, and a lot of the cost and lifetime support of these new “public enhancements”.

What has changed is obvious to anyone paying attention. Not all of it is good. Look back 12 years and more and measure how far we have come. If you, the reader, is satisfied that we are moving in the right directions, you might want to re-read an Editorial by Mike Bailey of the JSEB published on 2/2/02 and titled “Is Peoria on right road? Do the math.” Then go back and read my blog “Wake Up, Peoria”.

We have leaders who sincerely believe they are doing the “best things” for this community. Are too many of our leaders “self-serving”? Many of us other “leaders” have a somewhat different perspective and are also trying to do the “best things” for this community, but we do not see that more costly “enhancements” are the answer. We are looking for businesses that pay a more than living wage, a public school system that people seek out to send their children to and safety in our neighborhoods.

No, things haven’t improved that much since 1993. We are still seeking more of the right leadership. It’s here, just not much listened to! We may get to the point where neither faith, miracles and friendlier subdivision ordinances, will stem the slow slide of migration from Peoria City and County.

5 comments:

precinct committeeman said...

If we want people outside of the county to pay for our improvements and infrastructure we have to have a tax system that supports this, IE sales tax, and then lower the property tax down to a minimal level. Then put all schools in the county under one school board not in 30-40 separate boards. Then put the school boards up for election every two years county wide.

Merle Widmer said...

Reach me on my e-mail. Let's discuss further. I am in general agreement.

Anonymous said...

You said: "We are still seeking more of the right leadership. It’s here, just not much listened to!"

Seems to me that part of good (or right) leadership is getting others to listen. Maybe they AREN'T the right leaders. Besides, just being elected doesn't make you a good leader.

Merle Widmer said...

New Orleans proves that by being elected you are automatically a good leader! We have enough leadership to do a better job than we are doing in some parts of the delta, FEMA, Homeland Security and in DC. Unfortunately most of our good leaders are in the private sector where the Peter Principle prevails and promotions are ususally not by seniority but by qualifications. The good old boys and girls club can stumble thru leadership roles until the s--- hits the fan. It has hit and will hit many more times and unfortunately in many cases, the leadership WILL NOT BE THERE!!

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