Thursday, February 19, 2009

Caterpillar Stock Continues Plunge

Under terms of an agreement, (details, a lot of them, to be worked out if the referendum passes) part of what the Peoria County Board agreed to when the public facility (museum) tax was voted to be placed on the April ballot; Peoria County would take ownership of the museum if the unrealistic figures from the museum consultants do not materialize and the museum goes into default of some type. Or maybe the agreement will have language for the county or park district to take it over. Another reason I voted "no" on putting the referendum on the ballot. Too many unknowns.

Under the terms of agreement the City Council worked out with the developer on the new Marriott downtown hotel, if the hotel fails, the City and taxpayer could be stuck with up to $39 million of General Obligation Bonds.

Look at the situation in Peoria and most of this country and worldwide.

Caterpillar stock ended the day at $26 and change down $5 since Obama'a visit. Caterpillar stock was trading at $82 plus not too long ago. The stock is now trading near 1999 levels. The WSJ recently reported - "Caterpillar Financial Services - $3 billion multiranche bond sale at terms ranging from 5.75% to 7% plus. More debt at high interest rates".

Home sale prices in Peoria are down 10% or more and falling, unemployment claims are rising, the Civic Center may have greater problems than revealed on January 21, the zoo appears to still be $5 million short, The PPD is land rich, cash strapped, the ball park has not yet found a new sponsor to replace O'Brien, The Children's Playhouse is only half way to their four-five year fund raising goal, the JS reports on 2/8/09, "A Looming Homeless Problem", Ameren is asking to increase their already too high rates, higher #150 school taxes will soar out of sight by 2012, the $100 - 300 million dollar sewer system will probably start construction in 2010, the water lines serving the city are old and may require more than $100 million to partially replace, WTVP will need more public dollars soon, ICC will be starting a $31 million construction process funded by mainly tax dollars, etc.

And did Bradley complete their $100 million fund drive? I hope so.

Yet most Peoria County Board members appear to support the museum promoters and Caterpillar (I include Caterpillar because Caterpillar has pledged NOT to build their $40 million Vistors Center if the mostly publicly funded museum is not built). A vote yes on the referendum will allow Peoria County to assess $61-68 million in new sales taxes to bridge the now $35 million and growing gap in funds that the promoters failed to raise. These big ego's in Peoria who are spending $626,000 to promote (by insinuation); without revealing more transparency, they can't ask voters to vote yes; why not?, (ask them) that a new museum is a "once in a lifetime" opportunity which many and perhaps most, construe as a "lifetime of more taxes and lifetime of museum maintenance tax dollar burdens".

The country, including Peoria, is wracked by the worst recession or depression in most people's memory; "if it walks like a duck and acts like a duck, it may be a duck". People and businesses in Peoria County are going broke; some who are maybe not yet aware they are going to be in severe financial distress.

Property taxes are too high for current value. Some members of the Peoria County Board of Appeals have exceeded the "Peter Principle"; more on that later. In the meantime, population growth is basically stagnant and incomes are declining.

The old or new saying, "people who are proven wrong, would rather sink the whole ship than admit they are wrong". In Peoria, they are wealthy enough to retire or move elsewhere and leave the lifetime taxes to those not as fortunate.

Too Bad.

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