Sunday, October 19, 2008

Peoria Community Projections Not Met

There is a difference in being negative and bringing out "negative facts". There is a reality in the community that cannot be overlooked in times of global stress on our economy as further illustrated by Paul Gordon's column in today's JS. Mr. Gordon writes "expect another record for revenue when Caterpillar announces their quarterly results on this Tuesday. However, look further and you will notice a downward trend in earnings predictions for the next quarter and for 2009, coinciding with the mounting international economic struggle".

Just what stockholders don't want to hear about a company whose stock has almost dropped "through the floor"; from a high of $84, actually it was at $87 before settling at $84+, not more than a year ago. Cat stock closed down $3 dollars to $39+ on Friday. Now stockholders are confronted with another possible drop Wednesday morning. Hopefully the stock has gone down in anticipation of Tuesday's announcement and may get a rebound. Stockholders and this community hope so.

Unfortunately, these are facts and many people do not like to hear these because it does not reflect positively on the community.

Too bad, facts are facts and here are more the the JSEB, after considerable thought, decided not to remind the public. On 9/12/08, I wrote a "Letter to the Editors of the JSEB" the following:

The Peoria Chiefs Baseball Club has never in fourteen years returned a dime on this stockholders original investment. Presumably, no return to the other stockholders, either. This despite record attendance in 2007. (2008 financial results usually aren't made known to stockholders like myself, until late spring or early summer) Now O'Brien Automotive announced it was not renewing its naming rights to the stadium.

The Peoria Public Park, Bonnie Noble and Tim Cassidy, in 2003, announced plans for construction of a a new softball 6-8 field complex. In fact, a large sports complex at an unnamed location but the Park and Bradley SUPPOSEDLY swapped Meinen for up to forty acres of land on the corner of Fox Road and Rt. 91. Later plans called for 2 new diamonds. As yet, no ground has been broken or news that a contract has been let. It's now FIVE years later.

The PPD RiverPlex projected by park officials to be quite profitable by now, is instead unable again to meet the principal and interest on the original bonds, approximately $800,000 a year. Before the RiverPlex was built President Cassidy said " most, if not all, of the bonded indebtedness will be paid through RiverPlex Operations". (JS, 3/21/99) The Fitness Center, sharing profits,(ha) and losses with a major hospital lost up to $554,000 in 2007, losing for it's 6th consecutive year. The figure depend on ones ability to read a PPD 2007 Year End Financial Statement, but the figures show a substantial 6 figure loss again.

The expanded zoo is now rescheduled to open in the spring of 2009 and the JS reported it is still seeking $5 million to finish the new entrance or entrances. I note no work has started on the expanded parking lot. They are anticipating an increase of only 200 new visitors per day, up from 100,000 per year now. Figure an average of four visitors (kids will make up more than half the visitors) per vehicle though many visitors will come by busload, so about 50 more parking slots.

PPD planning now includes an expansion in Glen Oak Park of $125 million in future phases according to an advertisement on a recent IB Magazine. This was NEWS to those of us who follow PPD projections.

This has set back the opening of the planned Children's Playhouse in the space vacated by Park Administration in the Pavilion. The Park is temporarily planning to move into the renovated old IDOT building with a later move to the vacated Lakeview Museum building providing the new museum is funded and built on the waterfront.

As to the financially stalled new museum are 360,000 visitors, per year, per forever. Even then, with projected overhead at $4.1 million per year, the museum would still lose $500,000.00 per year, according to museum projections.

I write this article for deep concern for those of us who own Caterpillar stock. My wife and I, both stockholders (small comparatively), do not want Caterpillar to spend $70 million on non-priorities that many do not want, according the donors, the lack of earmarks from governmental bodies, LTTE and bloggers. After all, the movers and shakers waited this long, they may need to wait longer. Caterpillar stock prices may not recover for years. In fact it may continue its downward slide. Also, we do not want to pay more property taxes as we are in disagreement with the current assessed value of our home and have entered our appeals for 2006 and now 2007.

Now I have great concern that some on the City Council may risk a gamble on a buyout of the water company on "projections" that the city would make a profit.

Few projections in Peoria have met their projections, the gambling boat, but that went to E. Peoria. Missed projections in the private sector many times results i a bankruptcy. (think In-Play, RiverStation, we do not know how many businesses have gone broke in Peoria or will go broke if the countrywide and worldwide economy does not improve for an extended period.) When public entities miss projections, those politicians or elected officials raise taxes, raise rates, or sell more bonds that must be paid off by taxpayers in the future.

Sorry, if some of you consider this negative. Be realistic, it is. Spend no more than you know you can pay back without using OPM. True in the private sector; not true in much of the public sector who often think other people money is meant to be spent and how fast should we spend your money?

Wake up Peoria, we have a lot to offer but not if we are taxed out out of the City and County.

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