It might surprise some of you to know that a Peoria County Survey showed that 65% of the citizens who answered the survey said they "somewhat or strongly oppose a sales tax increase." Well, if they were paying attention they know they got a sales tax increase in the whole of Peoria County and it kicks in Jan. 1, 2009. It will collect somewhere between $3 to $3.5 million per year for 20 years to fund public facilities of which up to $40 million will be used to fund the "building" of the Riverfront Museum.
In a mailing to all board members received Saturday, Peoria County Administrator, Patrick Urich, a strong supporter of the sales tax and supporter of Peoria County ownership of the musuem, (and a stalwart Cub fan) wrote, "Sen Koehler today successfully inserted language into an appropriation bill to grant to Peoria County $5 million to assist in the construction and development of the PRM. This will close the funding gap to assist in the construction and development of the PRM to $1.2 million to "construct" the project, but still leaves a significant gap to make the project (and the museum endowment) sustainable."
Quoting the Journal Star Editorial Board today, "a bright spot in a 'solve nothing Legislature' was a guarantee of $5 million in funds for the PRM. Those who would look at this and gripe about the state's ongoing financial woes are ultimately comparing apples with oranges an are --much like those who still want the museum project to disappear--fighting a cause lost months ago. A tiny amount of $50 million was to fund museums. Having $5 million of $30 billion of the capital construction plan to support a local project or having the $5 million spent elsewhere, is not a tough call to make from where we sit."
Overlooked in the JSEB "Our View" is that the PRM was to be funded by only 33% of taxpayer dollars, the balance of 66% was to be funded by the generosity of the private sector. If you read my previous blogs and believe PRM Committee members like Brad McMillan, who is somewhere between being on and Ethics Committee in Springfield, and trying to raise funds for the museum, "only 33%, not uncommon for museums of this type, would be taxpayer funded." (Source, Peoria County Board Minutes and public hearings)
For the actual building of the museum, 66%, not 33%, will be taxpayer funded.
Nowhere does the JSEB note that the needed endowment, somewhere between $7-14 million remains almost totally unfunded. Also, lacking is anywhere between $3 to 5$ million for the underground parking garage. The $3.8 million being held for garage construction is a gift from then U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood back in 2007 from the Highway Construction bill.
If you recall, the $6.2 million was to be raised by the CEO Roundtable. But why spend private money when the taxpayer will fund it through Leitch, Koehler, Risinger an Gordon. After all, you elected officials and CEO's, pay enough personal income taxes, right?
Look for Rep. Aaron Schock to came through with the "rest of the taxpayer money". We still have stimulus money uncommitted, I believe.
Take back as much as we can from Springfield? I have no problem with that but with all the needs in Peoria County, $5 million for a museum? I won't enumerate our needs greater than a museum; I've done that many times. Probably some have overlooked that every dollar spent on an amenity to the community can't be spent with other merchants. Neither can the $3 to $3 1/2 million sales tax be spent on merchandise either. And, yes, the last projection I have, two years old, is that the museum can operate on a $4.3 million budget, but the projection also says that even with a substantial endowment, $500,000 fund raising drives will need to be conducted each year.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but seldom have I missed on a taxpayer funded "projection". Even the zoo, while bragging about increased attendance has not yet told us about increased operating costs. Don't forget the sewer system, school bonds, library bonds, etc,. etc. etc.
And the ballpark. Remember, I'm a stockholder who has had his stock for sale for 10 years. I still own it.
Call me a sore loser which I probably am. But I never make investments without believing someones promise that I would get a return. Broken promises or projections are a dime a dozen.