Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PRM Lack of Transparency and Lack of Funding?

Back on July 10, 2010. Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman wrote a letter to Peoria County Board Chairman. Tom O'Neill stating the following, "I think we all agree that it is critical to ensure at least a $5 million endowment to the Peoria Riverfront Museum before groundbreaking and to that end, Caterpillar is asking Peoria County to commit its full referendum-approved $40 million.(Actually, at the end of 2010, the County had approved $41.6 million)

Between NMTC (NEW MARKET TAX CREDITS), (more taxpayer dollars), grants, (more taxpayer dollars) additional fund-raising, our target will be $8 million to further fund the endowment.

This funding, together with Peoria County's additional $5.3 million, $37.7 million was the original commitment from the county, would fund the project and provide the desired endowment".

This is all very interesting in lieu of my knowledge that only $2.3 million toward an early estimate pf $14 million, had been raised by 12/31/10.

To my knowledge no NMTC funds were raised.

If they were raised, it never appeared in the JS. Also, it never appeared in the JS that the County evidently did roll over another $5+ million, in addition the the aforementioned $5,3 million Cat request, which was granted, to the PRM to do with it as they pleased, but believing that the PRM would probably roll this money over to the endowment, bringing it to $7+ million and additional funds possibly from the d$10 million or more that Dave Ransburg promised to personally raise, to a grand total endowment of around $9+ million, short of the original  14 million and still short of the reduced inadequate figure of $10 million.

The lack of transparency in the funding of the museum has been notably an embarrassment to many members of the community.

The PRM and JS have consistently stated the overall cost of the downtown project as $136 million. Deduct Cat's $37 million Visitors Center, leaves the museum costing $99 million with more than $65 million funded by the taxpayers including a figure ranging from $12 million - to $18 million from the City of Peoria alone. (Originally, before IMAX was lost and space reduced, the private sector was to pick up 66% of the costs of the museum.

Some miss in projections!!

Easy to figure: $41.6 for certain coming from the sales tax referendum, using a figure between a former City Managers $18 million figure and Mayor Ardis figure of $12 million, or $15 million from the city, your money, approximately $10  million from the IHSA, NASA, plus more than another half a dozen various grants, all taxpayer money, plus interest being paid on the $41.6 million sales tax referendum loan (the $41.6 or more had to be borrowed and is being paid back as the Sales Tax revenues come in over the next 20 years: yes there SHOULD be a surplus collected to be used for other County projects.

This "magnificent" project was so long in the making because of lack of financial commitment on the elite who promised much but contributed so little.

Don't blame Caterpillar. Under the circumstances they did more than Ransburg, Richerson or other movers and shakers, only to learn that the projected attendance has been dropped by 60,000..

And we also have the excitement of how BelWood will meet projections, (they already draw over $3 million in property tax revenues yearly to break even in the current building) the fabulous new hotel and the $100 million or more unpaid investments in our schools and libraries.

I am criticized for not jumping in with both feet to support the PRM.

But I did -- until I began to check the records, and saw that the promised funding didn't develop and the County Administrator, now Peoria City Manager, convinced the County Board to own the museum building which is turning into the risk that I foresaw.....

Last Saturday: 2.000 people visited the museum

On Sunday: only 500.

What does that tell you?

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