"Mr. Widmer reiterated comments he made at the Facilities meeting of February 24, 2009 regarding projects budgeted but not necessary due to the current economic stat. He mentioned that various organizations cutback on budgeted projects as well due to the bleak state of the economy. He acknowledged that as representatives for the citizens of Peoria County and, as overseers of citizens' monies, the Board has a responsibility to spend what is necessary considering the economic state. He mentioned it may cost the County more in the long run but the board would have done what is considered ethical. Mr. Phelan agrees with Mr. Widmer's ethics regarding the spending of citizens money."
Here's what happened on a recent attempt to award a $190,000.00 bid for County Courthouse interior signage, hardly a priority item: Democrat Junior Watkins moved and Republican Bob Baietto seconded to recommend buying. Republican Elsasseer wanted to buy part of the signage. His motion failed for want of a second. The original motion then failed with Watkins, Baietto and Elsasser voting yea and Salzer, Widmer and Phelan voting no. The vote being a tie; it failed.
This was in committee. When the same motion to buy $190,000.00 of interior signs came before the the full board, 8 board members voted to spend the money, Dillon, Harding, Hester, Mayer, Pearson, RIGGENBACH (now on the City Council), Sous, and Watkins voted to buy $190,000.00 worth of interior signage. Democrat Board member Sous said he was voting yes because of the image the County is trying to present to the public. Also Mr. Sous said "these are capital dollars that will just be rolled over to another project".
Voting no were myself and 8 others. Fortunately for the taxpayers, the motion to buy failed, 9 nays and 8 yeas with Salzer showing absent but Salzer had voted no in committee.
Administration pushed the fact that the money was "in the budget" to spend at least $190,000.00 for this non-essentials because the "money was in the budget" and the price was lower than budgeted.
Shortly after motion to spend $190,000.00 of taxpayer money for non-essentials failed, SURPRISE, we were told by administration we were going to be $3 1/2 - $4 million short in our 2009 budget.
Were we prepared? Yes, but not really or I would not have been criticized to make "pain sharing" public before administration prepared how to approach this "pain sharing" to all employees of the county. Is it possible that with all the card carrying union supporters on the board this info was'nt relayed privately by Saturday morning to some union people? It's possible, I guess. I have no proof that it was.
All the time, the JS and all media were reporting massive layoffs and firings, by the way not all are being "reported", in Peoria, but "surprise" again, since no layoffs, in the area to my knowledge, were in the layoff proof, tax-supported public sector, the news of the counties financial shortfall and possible county government wide "pain sharing" evidently had to be handled with "kid gloves" with some employees.
All this should be interesting to people in the private sector who have been fired, laid off, and business owners that have been forced out of business or gone bankrupt. No kid gloves here, many workers were told on Friday not to come to work on Monday.
Interesting and now County Administration and County Board will add another employee at $50 and hour not to exceed 10 hours a week, (who is going to keep the time card?) to help with a museum the community never really supported. In case you've forgotten, $640,000.00 was spent to sell the sales tax, think museum, but not just "museum". To my knowledge, all public elected officials with the exception of myself and Gary Sandberg supported this soon to be "tax sucker" that went from 65% private dollars and 35% public dollars, (I'm talking about the museum, not the Caterpillar funded Visitors Center) to 35% or maybe less private dollars and 65% public dollars which are taxpayer dollars. We will see but watch for a large part of the museum deficit to come from "stimulus" high priority money or grants secured by our public servants in DC and Springfield.
Sure, no projection for any major project has lived up to "projections" in the last decade in Peoria. Neither will any currently on the drawing board.
By the way, how is attendance at the new $27 million zoo? Still short $5 million to increase the parking and a new entrance, I hear. And the Children's Playhouse? It was supposed to open in 2007. And when does the new Library Tax kick in? After all the dead are removed from where half the town knew they were resting?
Yes, what do I know. Fortunately, I have my friends but none more supportive than Karrie. Thanks again, Karrie. And Diane, take note. It's all a matter of record.