Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Water Co. Buyout Present and Past - Mayor Ardis, Council Members, City Manager and Staff

My credentials - Founder of Widmer Interiors, today the largest company of it's type in Downstate Illinois. In retirement, I was asked to run for the Peoria County Board. I was elected 7 times, twice by my peers and served a full 3 terms on the Peoria County Board in days where we had surpluses in all our funds when I retired in 2010.

The last time I spoke before this Council was 2005. Only Mayor Ardis,  Eric Turner and Mr. Grayeb are members of this Council today. The issues are still the same. Buy the water company but first do a due diligence requested by a group know today as the CEO Council.

In 2005, a group known as the PAAG committed to loaning the Council $1 million at 9% interest (later reduced to 6.9%,). The City received only $816,000 after early interest payments were deducted requiring the City to add $170,545 of taxpayer money to complete the study.

The Council voted to accept the offer and do the study. It's thoroughness did not satisfy the PAAG.

As most are aware a lawsuit by was the filed by the PAAG, those members are listed on my blog 'Widmer Peoria Watch', under the title of "Water Logged #4, dated  3/29/05, requested the million be paid back plus interest amounting to over $2 million dollars. As I understand, a Judge ruled in favor of the PAAG, and while this ruling may be under appeal, it is most likely the City will need to come up with $2 million of taxpayer dollars they do not have to pay this group of mult-millionaires.

Now we are back with a different group, the CEO Council of which some of the original PAAG group are members now offering to contribute $400,000 with a possible $300,000 added still leaving the City to pick up the remaining unknown costs to complete a due diligence study that will need to pass the legal interpretation of 'due diligence'.

It's known the City is in debt and their debt is rising. So buy the water company and add to the City $16 million a year as often stated by the spokesman for the CEO and others Now come the problems facing the City Council- they do not have the hundreds of millions that the water company will ask for the sale. The CEO spokesperson admits that the $16 million a year profit will come to the City ONLY  after the 25-30 year bond is paid in full. But the City would still earn $3 million a year for 25 years.

All speculation. Every projection made by the 'experts' in this community have failed to meet projections. I could mention a few. the PRM whose Superintendent was fired when projections misfired. Two Bradley professors stated the PRM would bring $16 million of new business to business owners in the area. Yet retail sales are down putting several big box stores to close.

Need the $7 million and perhaps more that this council stuck the taxpayer with by getting into the hotel business.

Many false or semi-false statements have been mad; The water company does not pay property taxes. A check with the Assessor's Office indicates they do. A City owned water company would NOT pay property taxes.

"85% of all communities own their water companies". That statement is misleading. The 85% includes Congerville, Carlock, Lacon, Granville, and thousands of small communitys in this country that no major water company would buy as these would not turn the profit a private company with stockholders, would present.

Comparisons are made to Indianapolis as owning their own water company. Their is no comparison as Indianapolis is 8 times lager than Peoria

NO  water company 'OWNS' their own water.  One present member of this council once worried about a foreign country owning the water here. The water in this country is owned by the government who, in event of emergency, could nationalize all or any water company.

The major interest of certain influential citizens of this area want City ownership as that would remove control of the massive job of maintaining, purifying, distribution, etc. of the water of Peorians from the jurisdiction of the ICC. This would permit new lines anywhere in Peoria County, the Brimfiled area, Kickapo or all West and NorthWest Peoria with unknown reultswhat it would do to water rates.

And any rate the Water Council could enact. Which brings up another point. How would the naysayers have any chance of sitting on the Water Council Board??

Yes, water rates could increase. In a JS news headline, then City Manager Randy Oliver is quoted as saying, "Buyout may require a YEARLY  rate hike. It would take about a 3% increase in water rates charged to area customers to sustain the cost for the City to buy Peoria's division of the Illinois-American Water Company. (JS, March 8, 2005)

As for a costly referendum? It would show that 75% to 80% of the voters are OPPOSED to the proposed buyout. About the ame percentage that were opposed in 2005.

Thank you.

Merle Widmer
612 W. Collingwood Cr.
Peoria, Il  Cp 618 830 5647

1 comment:

Merle Widmer said...

I read this letter to the City Council two weeks before the vote.