Thursday, September 29, 2011

Elected Officials Can't Say No

Several years ago, I posted results of a study of 73 issues involving public risk that were brought before elected boards. 70 passed.

On the Gary Mathews issue expect Turner to vote yes because of his Caterpillar connections (On 4/20/10, now Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman, wrote a LTE urging the council to vote yes on the hotel issue. He wrote, "Caterpillar supports major development that will drive the rejuvenation of Downtown. By boosting occupancy rates, the city will reap the benefits of increased commerce backing such as employment opportunities of about 4000?? hospitality-driven jobs, revenue from local tax receipts and offshoot development (like the off-shoot developments promised around the ballpark?) of small businesses to support the tourism industry, including restaurants, gas stations, dry cleaners and other attractions.

Should the Marriott Hotel go forward? We think the answer is yes."

Perhaps this type of "stick the taxpayer" thinking is partially responsible that Caterpillar stock is 40% off its recent high of $116. Caterpillar's "generosity" will soon stick taxpayers with a highly debated downtown museum and the stockholders with a $50 million Cat Visitors Center, plus approximately $2 million a year total costs. In the meantime Cat is asking for a large property tax decrease which may cause the citizenry to possibly pay higher fees while getting less city services such as infrastructure (think our lousy streets and curbs, safety issues, etc.

Now, if Cat would just guarantee these general obligation bonds, guarantee the County, that the PRM won't be asking for more money to support the new Riverfront museum, buy naming rights to the ballpark (O'Brien didn't renew 3 years ago) they so strongly supported.........??

I might note that the JSEB noted that the Pere currently is operating at 44% occupancy and appears to be in financial trouble, that the Civic Center is upping it's losses to $4,764,988.00 for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, yet can't keep the existing rooms at the Pere occupied, the tax-payer supported ballpark has yet to have a profitable season and the "projected to be" highly profitable RiverPlex overall budget still operates in the red (JS, 8/11/2011)

Then their is Pete's place, or so says the JS and it's sports page, losing money every year since the new stadium opened.

So, along with Turner voting yes, will be Spain and Riggenback, neither of who has seldom seen tax money they don't want to spend; Gulley and Van Auken, who will talk about reasons not to vote yes, but will vote yes, Spears has union work to consider; and if Ardis votes yes, he will again contradict the platform he first promised when running for election to the council.

Dan Irving has encountered a rocky road so his vote is more likely to be yes, so I predict the vote will be in favor of "a better deal for the taxpayers?" 8-3 or 7-4.

In the meantime, the "vision" planned by the "power" structure has yet to come to light in the way intended.

At least, not to this taxpayer whose opinion is I for see a perhaps "rockier" road as more chickens come home to roost; the renovated sewer system projected by the mayor and Stanton Browning to cost $100-300 million, the deteriorating water underground system, Southtown, turn-a-bouts, warehouse district, deteriorating inner city with it's accompanying #150 problems, etc.

And the property tax increase of fees increases will kick in when we property tax payers start paying for all the money borrowed for Peoria Public School District $90 million plus interest for bonds, the Library bonds and BelWood bonds, the later, we are already paying over $3.2 million a year.

Just one man's studied opinion; a man not in the "good old boys and girls club", though.

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