In 2007, then Congressman Ray LaHood promised to put $3.6 million in the Federal National Highway Bill; this money to be used to help construct the underground parking garage for the CAT Visitors Center and the PRM. It was confirmed today by Peoria County Administrator that almost all of the money has been received with the final payment to be received on completion of the garage.
The recent passing of the Facility Tax Referendum assures the completion of the museum building itself. It is unknown to the public how much other cash is on hand to complete the counties portion of the estimated $94 million, possibly less, museum project.
It is believed that the $5 million promised by Governor Quinn will be received in partial payments but none of this $5 million of taxpayers dollars has been received to date.
My question has always been "show me the money" as it is a known fact that this museum project will be eventually funded with as much as 70% coming from the taxpayer.
That was not the promise made by the PRM Committee to the County Board. The promise was that "it is not unusual for the taxpayer to support 33% of museum costs". Plus frequent statements that "nearly all the money has been raised". Since former Mayor Dave Ransburg has made a statement to the County Administrator that he will not only raise $10 million but $20 million, (surely he means NEW private dollars) it appears that after deducting the $14 million the PRM Committee has already spent minus the missing Endowment Funds, that many pledge dollars have not been collected.
It is a known fact that more than a million dollars of pledges were deemed non collectible according to financial statements released to the County Board for the fiscal years 2008-2009. It was unknown to me as a County Board member what pledge dollars were deemed noncollectable for fiscal year 2010 ending June, 30, 2010.
The PRM Committee Chair, Tom Bardwell, promised the board that an audit of pledges GUARANTEED would be taken. Those guaranteed figures were never shown to the full board.
Since it is estimated that approximately 80% of the visitors to the complex would be from the counties surrounding Peoria County, the museum will need MUCH more than the ISHA and African-American Hall of Fame and a wide digital screen, to keep these people coming back with regularity.
Once the museum and VC are built, this complex will add but a handful or less or high-paying jobs to the community. Also, discretionary spending to pay the extra sales tax and dollars spent at/for the museum, an estimated total of $7,000,000.00 a year, will not be available for spending at other local enhancements (zoo, ball park, Civic Center, etc,) spending.
If a large Endowment is not raised and the estimated yearly $4.3 operating costs, these costs rising each year, are not covered by revenues and if yearly attendance settles below the 240,000 visitors to the museum, additional funds will need to be raised, especially to cover the costs of the promised frequently changing of exhibits. The last operating statement I have seen from the PRM does show $500,000.00 will be raised yearly in fund drives.
It doesn't take an "expert' on museums to put all these happenings together to see that this museum project has fallen well below "expectations", these expectations supported by a $600,000.00 advertising campaign made by museum supporters before the referendum slid through by a mere 400 out of 30,000 cast votes.
My blogs and my votes are based on facts and it would please me if the museum's strong supporters overcome the negatives of these facts and make this project a success that will help "grow" the tax collecting base of the County of Peoria. No doubt it is creating needed new jobs for the present and near future.