Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Peoria - A Bright Spot in the Economy or Not?

Bernie Goitein, Bradley University business professor and community analyst, recently wrote, "even if the rest of the country starts to recover, Peoria could still stay in the dumps".

Let's see, we have the $27 million dollar library fiasco, all borrowed money with interest, to start construction. Property tax increases will start soon to pay for these long term bonds.

A new or remodeled Bel-Wood County Nursing Home, the County Board is approaching a decision to remodel at $25 million or build new at $34 million, partly funded by taxpayer dollars. Original estimates were lower but according to museum officials, costs have risen 15%. Well, figures are just figures anyway. When estimated.

The zoo is being completed or partially completed, or, who knows? Public dollars.

ICC plans a $31 million dollar construction process. Public dollars.

District #150 schools, somewhere around $60 million, public dollars. Probably more if they can't balance their budget without raising property taxes soon.

Cub Foods closing and City stuck with $5 million plus unless the tax-paying private sector takes over that complete store. Maybe some more companies where the city and county have lent money will not make it.

The Riverfront Museum. Maybe. $80 plus million public dollars,including millions of public dollars already spent and the $34 million museum funding gap plus interest at 5.5% for 20 years or $62-69 million TAX PAYER DOLLARS, $40 million capped for the museum and any left over for other new public facilities. Plus the $14 million city contribution for the museum, taxpayer dollars. Plus $4.6 million secured by LaHood for the museum underground parking garage; $4-7 million still needed. Plus approximately $5-6 million secured in State grants including pledges by the IHSA, mostly State dollars. Dispute these figures, you number crunchers. It's all published information.

There is more like the sewers, $100-250 million. Public dollars. With more water lines leaking, one day soon, most of the underground public water systems will need to be replaced. Increased water bills, private or city owned.

The guarantted $39 million in Obligatory Bonds for the new Downtown Hotel. Taxpayers stuck if the project is completed and fails.

Questionable operating losses at the Civic Center if the convention business goes in the tank.

Millions of dollars for street and curb repair badly needed. As many as four hundred plus abandoned or structurally unsound buildings in the city and county.

Now let's look at the private sector current construction that isn't subsidized by public dollars.

Let me look over my list. Pretty barren, maybe someone can help me out. Yes, there are some small projects but even Globe Mfg. and FireFly are subsidized.

Bright spots are that we are becoming more and more of a service industry community, not the best paying jobs, but jobs if you are trained.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I bet you've let a rocket go in your depends over this museum thing.

Mike said...

There is some private development although you could argue not enough. The Hy-Vee on Sheridan, Illinois Medical Center, Junction City improvements, Sherman's expansion, Bradley expansion, Diocese of Peoria headquarters, Globe Energy (not too sure about this one) and many businesses that have closed are reopening under new owners, Penguin Tap, Leaves 'N Beans, Water Street Cafe too name a few. Correct me if I’m wrong about any of these. Yes, I agree that there are too many publically funded projects going on at the same time. However, I think the general public supports them overall. I disagree with your statement ("estimated" 50% who voted "yes" don't own property to be taxed) as I own my house, pay taxes and voted for the Library expansion. Part of the problem is that many of these projects were put off for so long that much of Peoria looks like a bad ‘70’s movie. Also, too much of the tax burden is on Peoria County alone. I do like your willingness to ask the hard questions, but stay positive there are good things happening in our community also. What kind of other private development do you think Peoria needs?

Ed said...

we need a theme park...

Merle Widmer said...

Jobs that pay more than "a living wage". Previously, it has been hard to compete with Caterpillar wages and benefits so there isn't much manufactuting coming to or staying in Peoria.

We need jobs that produce a product. We are overwhelmed with "projection missing" amenities such as the ball park and RiverPlex.

For those who are interested, my stock in the ball club has been for sale for 10 years. No offer yet.

The zoo will be a big loser. Wait and see.

As to restuarants, they come and go with around a 50% turnover yearly nationally.

As to anonymous, I have at least something to say that requires some intelligence.

As to the museum block project? You need to go back and read my blog on "missed projections" dated 10/19/08.

Merle Widmer said...

Sorry, I had to correct my poor journalism and the name of the person who made the quote