Thursday, July 03, 2008

Peoria Public Library - A Fleecing of the Public

The Library Board, the Journal Star Editorial Board, a gullible public and a gullible group of politicians plus an $130,000.00 privately paid for referendum, not really, because of those who contributed the money like attorneys' can add 15 minutes here or there at from $300 and up per hour on some unsuspecting clients bill, accountants can do the same, the insurance companies can raise your premiums, the Caterpillar Foundation promotes Caterpillar and Caterpillar wants and gets everything they want with the veiled threat of relocating if they don't and the hospitals can raise the rates they charge. Plus those with excess money are always looking for noble causes in which to initiate. Which usually causes the common sense crowd to empty their pockets in support of something they didn't necessarily want.

Then there were the people who pay little or no property taxes, such as the "Letter to the Editor" guy who attacked the mayor while offering the mayor the use of his garage; he lives in a 2nd rate apartment complex. And three letters printed from people who do NOT live in the City. Or City Councilman Sandberg who this year paid a grand total of $16.50 of his $410 property taxes to support the library and a host of other people who don't use the library but think that is the place kids go these days to get an education. Or Councilman Eric Turner who said in an email to me the following,"I definitely accept. (I invited anyone to visit any and all of Peoria Public Libraries and show me where they see the needs) I will be out of town until Thursday of next week and will be willing to go Thursday or Friday. Cell phone #------.Thanks Merle, I truly appreciate it." When he didn't call me i called him only to find both his phone and email was blocked to me.

Did we ever take a tour? You guessed right, Even on Flag Day at Constitution Gardens, he came up to me and said he will DEFINITELY call me Monday to set a date. Do you think he called? Even promised to take me lunch. Oh, that's right, I forgot, he works for Caterpillar and Ex-Cat man and recent DUI offender Henry Hollings is now City of Peoria Interim City Manager.


Then there were those who equate the flag, mom and apple pie to the nostalgia of the library. They will go visit the new library to oh and ah but the same people who use libraries now will be the ones who keep coming back.

The same may happen at Dunlap's new library. But Dunlap is only spending about $3 million and they are close to town and to some schools and Dunlap is probably short of meeting rooms. My wife and I will continue to use Peoria Heights underused library as it is closer, has a great selection and never crowded.

Old Ed's library in Indianapolis went only $45,000,000.00 in cost overruns. That $45 mil.and some interesting conversations he had with the State of Indiana Attorney General Office led to his firing and finding a gullible board. Where better to find one? Peoria, of course. Does this sound like a Peoria Public School District #150 recent superintendent?
We have in place libraries to accommodate everyone in the City with approximately 1,000,000 books, tapes, discs, magazines, etc. The Southside Library, the one the JSEB said was overcrowded with eager young faces and desperately needed more space in 2001; it will be closed along with the little used library at RiverWest.

Here's exactly what the JSEB said September 26, 2001, "People who live on Peoria's southside are among the city's poorest. Yet adults (open 10-5, 5 days a week. Don't adults usually work from 10 to 5)? use this library and kids flock there. Peoria can wring their hands over gang influences and children who don't learn and parents who don't care, they can take notice of the obvious. Finish the library. Good Grief!"

So the council gave the library board about half a million, even giving $80,000.00 for an elevator to the second floor; basically empty now.On 11/06, the Strategic Plan says, "Southside Library offers inadequate service due to a lack of "space" and staff. It will be closed and combined into Lincoln along with RiverWest.

Did it help slow down the gangs? Ask the Police Department. The gangs are growing and moving further north. Do they use the libraries? Yes, free computers (that's mainly what this library furor was all about) to help patrons learn how to create social security cards they sell to illegals. And play computer games, surf for something with sexual context along with a number of serious users who have computers at home but save by using the libraries free computers.

When my friend Ed Murphy ran for mayor a number of years ago he indicated he would not spend much money to increase the size of existing libraries. He also said he never knew of a library that brought a new business into any city. He was right but some people get a perception and are led like sheep to a fleecing.

And tucked away in my files is this quote dated 5/25/08 from the JS, "The library wants no operating cost increase for five years with no net jump in full time staff." Note "full" time staff.

We will see.

Location, location; pedestrian friendly, kids on bikes, isn't that what everybody says? And on really great on land that only cost $170,000 and acre. Tucked away but visible from the highway. Oh, joy. Now when visitors come into town you can take them to Walmart, a destination, and Menards and then show them the new library on cultivated land but not similar to the grass and weeds I saw on a recent visit to Lincoln Library. or when people are taking visitors to the Shoppes they can point out the library while driving by at 80 miles per hour.

In the meantime more land will no longer valuable for dearly needed crops, land now asphalted and concretized, washing more soil towards the waterways causing the rivers to fill up and higher prices at the grocery store and filling stations.

Oh well, the voters spoke and majorities are ALWAYS right.

Maybe we can move the Illinois River out to the northside so they don't have so far to drive to their marina's, relocate the Civic Center, the ballpark, where it has a chance to make a profit for their stockholders, the Courthouse and City Hall. And why not have the park build them a NorthPlex? The park has a $48,000,000.00 budget and should be able to work in another fitness center.

Oh, I forgot, the park is still are looking for the money to build the sports complex out on Rt.91 and Fox road. Or has that site been replaced by a 2006 promise to upgrade Peoria Stadium? Superintendent Hinton says the park is read to build at the Stadium this fall.

How will property tax payers pay for all the money losing projects now completed or underway; don't forget a hundred million for sewer revamping and maybe $120,000,000.00 for new schools? We heard a lot of grumbling and some anger expressed in the community for 2007 property taxes but wait till three or four years from now. I know how I'm paying for my $1300 property tax increase. A lot of requests for contributions, average 3 a day, go directly into the round floor file.

Will I vote yes, or support any additional taxes on property owners?

Probably not in the 2 1/2 years left on my term.


Mazr said...

I have no problem with anyone who voted no bitching about this project.
Anyone else who was too lazy to get up and vote can put a sock in it.

"I know how I'm paying for my $1300 property tax increase. A lot of requests for contributions, average 3 a day, go directly into the round floor file."

Didn't you say you were moving out of the city if this increase took place?

Billy Dennis said...

First, the right to bitch about taxes comes from paying taxes, whether or not one voted.

Second, sitting out an election can be an overt form of protest, not one I would pick, but there it is.

Mazr said...

"First, the right to bitch about taxes comes from paying taxes, whether or not one voted."

Not in this case, Bill. Any property tax payer who didn't take the time to go vote on this only has his/herself to blame.

I should have been more clear in my first post.

merle widmer said...

My property tax has been appealed to the State of Illinois. It may be at least another tax cycle before I receive a ruling.

Pay the price the County Board of Appeals says my home is worth and we will work out a sales plan.

In the meantime I have 2 1/2 years to go on my County Board term and I will not be running for a fourth term. Eventually, I do plan to move from Peoria County as I see cost of living for retired people like myself rising while we pay more and more property tax.

54% of my property taxes go to a school system (#150) without I or many others receiving the benefits of a good school system.

Too many non-tax paying enhancements have been added to this community that add little or no value to my immediate family. They add little to my property value, are not and will not pay their way in my foreseable future without additionad taxes or increased user fees, more borrowing or all of the above.

People can (and more are), live anywhere outside of the the City and County of Peoria and come visit the zoo, RiverPlex, ballpark, libraries, Civic Center, 9000 acres of PPD, Gateway, etc., paying without paying the excessive property taxes charged to the local homeowners.

The motto, "build it and they will come" has turned out to be, yes; many will come but do not stay especially businesses. There are always exceptions like ELM and Maui Jims.

If you have been noticing many local businesses have either gone out out of business, relocated, gone or are going broke, or both.

One of my greatest concern is for people who are retired, have a basically fixed income and plan to live out their lives in their own homes in the City of Peoria. Questionable increased value of their homes causes them to pay more and more property taxes for enhancements way beyond the basic services originally intended.

Also, for businesses that may be forced to charge a higher sales tax than their neighbors.

Of course, retired people could (and many do) live in areas where property taxes are low but there are more risks to their safety and the safety of their personal property.

I do not buy the socialistic attitude of "they can afford it, stick it to them". My attitude is that if people want and can afford it let them support community enhancements but not if what they support causes others to pay more than they can afford.

I was never a "tax and spend" advocate for enhancements UNLESS there was excess money to pay for them. Taxes needed for inadequately funded basic services I can support providing the money is properly spent.

Having been involved in government, education and business, watched and observed other boards such as the library board and school board, Congress and our State, I conclude that very few public bodies can do a better job than an efficient private sector entity.

merle widmer said...

I overlooked the $60,000,000.00 airport expansion funded mostly by taxpayers.

Currently, my wife and I fly out of Bloomington who offered free parking before Peoria offered free parking.

The destinations we fly to save us about $200 each trip. If the economy in Peoria crashes, the most benefit of the exspansion will be to bigger businesses like Caterpillar.

Less flights to Vegas probably.

But all property owners will share in the cost just as they will on any bonds sold by the PBC. All PBC borrowing MUST be paid back with interest by taxpayers.

Billy Dennis said...

Mazr: Really, you need to learn to differentiate between opinion and fact. You might be of the opinion that people who don't vote shouldn't gripe. The fact is the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of American recognizes the right of ALL Americans to gripe about taxes -- among other things.

Mazr said...

Sorry Billy.

Absolutely right they can gripe, but guess what? Tough. No slack from me. If one is so bothered by a referendum maybe that should spurn them to participate in another "right of all Americans"....the right to vote.

My mom bitches about George Bush and the conversation usually ends when I tell her "You should have voted against him then."

I'm not quite sure what the problem with that concept is.

Merle Widmer said...

We'll see how many people are "bitching" about Obama in, say, about three years from today 11/20/08