Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Supressed Local News - Financial Shortfall at Peoria County

I believe the Journal Star has some reason not to print some of the most important news. What these reasons are, I can only speculate. But here is some factual news about what is going on with the Peoria Board and Administration. Even though the JS had no reporter attending this meeting, they do have access to committee minutes.

At Friday's important joint meeting (attended only by a reporter from WCBU) chaired by two County Committee chairmen, one chaired by Michael Phelan and one by Jim Dillon, our County Administrator, Patrick Urich announced that the county revenues are in a steep decline (surprise??) and that we may run out of money in our reserves (cash) sometime at the end of year 2011 unless we change our spending ways. A plan was presented to offer certain employees voluntary early retirement. Discussed was to ask union members for certain concessions. Board member voted yes unanimously on both issues.

All capital Project expenditures are immediately suspended except any near completion. And perhaps, even some of them. Administrator Urich said that he was going to take a voluntary pay cut to lead the way in asking employees for pay cuts, voluntary retirement packages or wage freezes. Democrat Bud Sous asked if there were ways we could raise more revenue (interpretation - taxes or fees). I said, "sure, and drive more people out of Peoria County"

When asked, Administrator Urich stated the the $30 some million new BelWood had enough money to "build", a statement I questioned as we had not yet sold the $30+ million in bonds to finance the project and whether "build" included the $7 million or so "soft costs". I will continue to pursue my questioning and keep asking, "when is an 'operating statement' for the new facility is going to be made available to all board members? How can intelligent decisions be made if "profit and loss, revenues and expenditures" information is not available to the full voting board?

Since BW was supported by approximately $3 million in property taxes last year, this upward trend must continue for the next 30+ years. Obviously, yes, and by 3% EVA each year for 30 years+. But, if overall property taxes collected by the county continue to shrink, how will the deficit be made up? By lower wages, benefits, early retirement, layoffs, increased revenues, greater efficiency or more taxes on a soon to be greatly overtaxed community?

In 1998, 10 years ago, property taxes in the amount of $125,000.00 were collected by Bel-Wood. The facility showed a loss of $1,333,405. 10 years later, 2008, BW collected $2,971,245.00 in property taxes, showing a profit of $600,000 which included the property tax of almost $3 million. In the past 6 years, Bel-Wood has collected $14,274,842.00 in property taxes to MAINTAIN Bel-Wood.

A decision was made in 2002, to pay BelWood IMRF (retirement) and FICA out of non Bel-Wood funds. In 2004, these benefits amounted to $772,246. In 2008, these benefits, now including Medicare costs amounted to $1,220,636.00. These costs plus property taxes collected, indicate Bel-Wood was subsidized by at least a total of $4,191,881.00 in 2008. At one time, the board approved that $300,000 be taken out of the General Fund to install a partial ceiling; this new ceiling showing some damage from a leaking roof that should have been replaced in the early 2000's.

By government standards, which includes property taxes as income and other costs shifted away from a money losing entity, a profit can be claimed. By "business accounting" standards, substantial losses are occurring each year at BW. One county board member, Mayer, as well as Bel-Wood Administrator, Matt Neukirk, have publicly stated that that BW is contributing profits to the bottom line. And Carol Trumpe, Committee Chairwoman of the Land Use Committee, believes with the help of our consultants, BW is breaking even.

These facts are not acknowledged publicly or denied by our County Administrator.

All figures on this blog were obtained through county records and emails from county officials. What's happening at Bel-Wood is another illustration of the lack of transparency for the community. Stating the county is building a "safety net" for the poor, this county board and administration is building a continuing big loss leader supported by county rising taxes for the next 30 YEARS, committing a total of $62-80 million dollars ($1.2-!.6 million in yearly payments for the next 30 years) to a nursing home many feel, including myself, the county no longer needs to be in this non-mandated business or subsidizing BW which would mean less money extracted from county property tax payers.

Then, probably not. The money saved would be spent on other pending county projects.

Another fact not mentioned by the media, is that the county has already spent close to $500,000.00 in "soft costs" in planning and estimating consultants, etc. Soft costs may add as much as $7 million dollars to the "building" costs.


Diane Vespa said...

Merle, at least they are in control enough of their finances to anticipate the shortfall and make the necessary adjustments before it puts the county in a crisis mode - a la District 150.

Anonymous said...

it is not true they are in control, otherwise we not be at this point, trying to hide so much. We need not caught up in women trying to be difficult, which comes so naturally, but the facts, tremendous shortfall

all woman have tremendous talent for confusion


Anonymous said...

Merle your at the right point in history, just think it you could make name for yourself if changed things. Get the city to tone down the spending, till the economy recovers and employment goes up.
Gain reputation for running things well

Before a big bank of newyork stock collapsed, they spending money on every dummb thing you can think of, box seats at football games, like unneed elevated walkways between buildings, garage for people going to park their cars, if they had money, if they were employeed

rod mckiminson