Friday, December 19, 2008

Downtown Hotel - Consideration Quotations

"Build Downtown Hotel Without Tapping Taxpayers" said the JSEB on 9/23/05. "A Chicago consultant says the Civic Center's ongoing expansion can't meet it's potential without more high-quality hotel space close by and it won't happen without a city subsidy." "A supportable risk is how Authority Chair-Woman Rebekah Bourland described the expansion in an essay to the JSEB on 3/13/2006. Investment in the redevelopment of the Civic Center should lead to PRIVATE investment in lodging," etc.

"Fine", said the JSEB, "so let it happen. If this expansion is as successful as Peorians were promised it would be, the private sector should have no problems filling its fancy rooms". "Actually, this newspaper would welcome a new hotel Downtown, so long as the risk and cost are borne by the private sector. We're not blind to competitive pressures nor are we opposed to all public subsidies--just foolish unfair ones with lousy timing. Remember when the Shoppes at Grand Prairie, in its previous incarnation, just couldn't make it without taxpayer assistance? If the $94.5 million Cullinan Properties asked for from the taxpayers in selling the booming mall was any indication, the council was wise in calling that bluff. Indeed".

I spoke before the city council in opposition to the subsidizing of the later privately funded mall and earned some undying enmity from the key developer. But I can go to my grave knowing my "ranting", that's me, helped the Peoria taxpayer save $90 million or more.

Have I mentioned that a question arose as to why I asked "how is the Civic Center doing financially?" Why did I ask? Why important? I'll explain. Commenting on the approval of the Civic Center's 2009 budget, (Their Fiscal year ends on August 31) Civic Center Liaison Councilman Bob Manning said, "With a little luck, a surprise pick-up of an event here and there, and a stabilizing economy, 2009 may have a shot of breaking even." So evidently, the Civic Center was coming close to breaking even in 2008, (there is a crowd that will debate the description of "breaking even"), and doing so without putting the taxpayers on the potential hook of $39 million for a new and expanded Downtown Hotel.

Sorry, but my question was a fair question asked of anyone voting to put the taxpayer on the hook for sizable tax increases over the next 23 years. (or longer). So I'll ask again. A new quarter ended in November. How did the taxpayer supported Civic Center do and I now add, how are bookings holding up?

Since August 31, this economy already in shock, entered a period in time in which analysts were saying we had entered the worst financial times since the 1930". Indeed, one month can change a firms financial statement drastically, let alone three bad months in a row with more predicted on the horizons.

There is a mentality of some in this community to build anything, we need jobs. Valid? Subject for another blog.

1 comment:

Karrie E. Alms said...

Merle: The problem with build anything for jobs is at best a short term solution creating a long-term nightmare. In reading the Build The Block funding information, I am concerned that Peoria is engaging in its' own pay to play scenario. Everyone / every group has the right to contribute monies to whatever cause or project. My concern is that the building trades (unions) have conributed over $600K to the BTB pledge drive. At least a perceived conflict is that contributions may affect the voting of elected officials because of pressure to build the museum to create jobs for 18 months. Short term solution, infusion of monies in our local economy. Long term problem --- taxpayer cost to build the museum and taxpayer subsidy ad infinitum if the museum does not met projections. We already have too many failed build it they will come projects which are costing the taxpayer a pile of money on an individual basis. With the resulting economic downturn, individuals cannot afford any more taxes even at 25 cents per hundred dollars.