Monday, July 02, 2012

My 87 Birthday And Some Backward Glances

Thanks to all who sent me birthday wishes one way or another. I hope I did not overlook anyone when I make a feeble effort to say thanks.

Since I became computer semi-literate (I still don't fully understand how to use and post on Facebook or LinkedIn), I have posted over 2100 blogs, all of which remain accessible by those who read me. (Just enter a subject on the search bar above my profile and click.)

I have made many predictions, most fortunately or unfortunately have come true. I have been reminded by several that what I may have opposed went ahead, over my opposition. However, a closer examination shows that not one met their publicized revenue projections.

In an atictle printed in the Peoria Journal Star on 3/16/1999, (regarding the potential move of the Peoria Chiefs Baseball from Meinen Field to its present money losing site), I was quoted, "I do not believe in using public funds for a private organization."

The city of Peoria spent somewhere around $5 million and Governor Jim Ryan, now jailed, kicked in $2 million through his Build Illinois campaign. I think we may have gotten into riverfront mania.

We (the Chiefs) haven't made money for 5 years and the city runs the risk of funding a white elephant. From the reports in the JS that prediction may come true.

My accountant tells me I have no more losses to write off on the $50,000.00 investment I made in 1994 when the club was still at Meinen Field now called Shea Stadium. The swap of this land from the PPD to Bradley is another interesting story I have factually told in past blogs while the JS has said typically nothing about this "deal".

Next came the RiverPlex that I opposed mainly because it would be largely competing with private, property tax paying entities and take gymnasium and swimming pool business away from private as well as other publicly funded swimming pools.

Also I questioned the figures posted in the JS on 6/16/1999, that quoted Roger Allen and Bonnie Noble of the park district as saying by the "fifth year, with 5,000 members the operations would generate a profit of $515,494.

It is now in it's eleventh year and the RiverPlex claims over 5,000 members. New General Obligation bonds are sold each year to cover principal and interest over the next nine years to pay off the remaing approximately $6,000,000.00 left to pay off the original bonds.

Operating budgets have been in the black for the past 6 years but when annual payments are made to reduce the debt, the RiverPlex budgets are in the red. Even after the park district picks up part of the operating costs or maintenance or both. (JS, August 21, 2011)

The city also took a big loss by trading the RiverPlex riverfront land for a long time vacant lot overvalued by far at $5 per square foot. Anyone wanting to see this land, I will be glad to show them inculding the $430,000.00 appraisal made for this property by James W. Klopfenstein on August 24, 1999.

Before Dave Ransburg left office, he told me approximately $40,000,000.00 had been spent on the riverfront, and the city is still spending, while property tax in the area shrinks; this shrinkage made up by taxing other entities.

I also predicted that the "African Experience" at the Glen Oak Zoo would be difficult to fund, would operate at a substantial loss and would not draw the number of visitors projected year in and year out. Recently, the Glen Barton Family had to fund $5 million to finish the parking lot and entrance, appearently now under construction.

As to affecting services to other areas: The ball parks promised in 2002 were never constructed. Erosion control in the 9,000 acre park owned hills and valleys are eroding badly, helping make a large delta in the Illinois River, fees have been in some cases tripled.

The clay tennis courts had no new cover added this year and are a cloud of dust, the historic cannons are at risk of falling into Glen Oak Lake, areas are lacking water and toilet facilities such as at Becker Park and a "Mickey Mouse" type skateboard park was located in an area were reputed drug deals have taken place. (Back end of Becker Park -- unobserved and underused by the general public).

Do the kids and most parents in Peoria know where this park is? Last time I checked, there was neither toilet or drinking water facilities. But Becker Park does have a rarely used trail!

Then there is the expanded Civic Center that is operating at a capacity far below normal according to a very recent paid audit, losses projected to be under $218,295 (JS, 7/24/09) came in at -$432,000, or a total net loss of $4,764,988.00 for fiscal year 2011. Since losses are paid by taxes, the Civic Center should be under-bidding the competition unless this is the way all publicly funded entities operate.

I spoke before the City Council opposing the councils evetual backing $37,000,000.00 General Obligation bonds to fund the new Marriot and the public still doesn't know how much the now closed Big Al's will be reimbursed for lost business and its relocation, estimated by some familair with the situation, to be up to $11,000,000.00.

And then of course, there is the still apparently unfunded Peoria Riverfront Museum, which I predict will lose about $2 million a year after the first 3 years, or sooner. (Where the approximately new $ 5 million added to a too skimpy endowment came from remains a mystery. Even one of the veteran board members has not been able to find out and there sure wasn't any publicity about the donor or donors).

While all of these projects lend a certain value to parts of the citizenry, they are pure examples as to why the City, County, State and Federal governments are running growing deficits to be paid by some worried tax payers at some later dates.

It appears many of the promised 'silk purses' turned out be be not silk, and the gooses I wrote about in a LTE in 1999 (the city's misspent money can't be recovered) failed, as yet, to lay the promised golden eggs.

Yet Caterpillar, whose stock keeps dropping and competition grows stronger, probably won't benefit that much from the billions to be spent, susposedly mainly on bridge repair and on union laborers, engineers and consultants, etc. (new Transportation bill passed by Congress) Cat management has confidence that all is well in the growth of the downtown district and that their substantial stockholders investments will make the downtown more like it was in days gone past.

Time will tell and I hope I am wrong, yet always remembering that "projections" in this country are a 'dime a dozen'. My new goal is to live to at least ninety, see a new administration this November, see less jobless and an economy that is REALLY on the grow.

Sadly lacking in this community is media investigating reporters reporting the real facts about what appears to be intentionally "covered up". Some of us bloggers try to get out the truth -- not only in Peoria, but bloggers all over the nation.

My spell-check is not working. Hope you don't find more errors than I find in our local major newspaper who has less local reporters than I can ever remember.

P.S. While not exactly downtown, I am told by good authority that the taxpayer owned BelWood nursing home is losing more money, revenues are up but expenses are higher than revenues, The $3 million now funded by property taxes may be inadequate as the census continues to drop. (190 in the 300 bed capacity building).

While the new 214 bed Heading Oaks, it's new name to be, is going to be a world class safety net for the poor, the future lies somewhat unknown with the going bankrupt State of Illinois most likely to cut back Medicaid funding and drop more costs on Peoria County property taxpayer while Peoria County pays the taxes for residents coming in from other counties.


1 comment:

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