Thursday, March 17, 2011

Side notes and circumstances

Okay, a quick apology to everyone for the cancellation of the 9/12 Project Meet the Candidates event this last Wednesday. I know quite a few people had planned to attend, but apparently Jody did not have enough faith in Jenny Keller being able to pull this off by herself. I had an emergency at work (only two salesmen, and the other one called in sick) and had to pull out as a moderator, but I think Jenny would have done a splendid job, especially with our guest moderator, John Sharp of the Journal Star.

Now I have recently been working with Bill Lopotko of the 9/12 Project to investigate the possibility of forming a bi-partisan committee for Transparency in Government. This LINK is to an article explaining the key points of Transparency, and how they should allow the common citizen to access their representatives.

I sent this link via email to both the incumbents on the City Council, and the Candidates for the various positions being elected in April. As of this writing, several of the candidates have responded with positive remarks, with the notable exception of Chuck Weaver, who explained that he would look at it when he had time after the election. Since the Candidates have clearly stated that Transparency is an issue that they all support, it might be nice if they know what they are supporting. Apparently, Chuck either understands the principles already? Hmmm. Hope so.

As to the East Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services, I spent a couple of hours last night with Rose Sullivan and Malita King, two outspoken advocates for the East Bluff and former members of the EBNHS Board, as well as active past members of local neighborhood associations. I left that meeting with a wealth of information that I am still perusing, so right now I am still trying to discover how the EBNHS became the mega drain on taxpayer dollars that it is today. More on this later, but one thing did pop into my head. Since we are already paying a Special Service Area tax to the city to support the EBNHS, why should we be taxed a second time for a TIF that will, essentially, duplicate this effort? Just a thought thrown out there. Anyone care to answer?


  1. I too am a 20 year resident of the East Bluff. I also served on the EBHS board (resigning before my second term was over). The amount I pay for the special service district is relatively small. For 2009, it was less than $19.00. That money goes to operations for EBHS, not loans. The area covered by East Village is much larger than the EBHS Special Service District. It will be a number of years before funds are available through East Village. As I understand it, until property values go up or there is a general increase in real estate taxes there will be no money available in East Village. Funds for projects would come from increases in taxes paid, not from an additional tax like the Special Service District is. The potential for a much larger sum (amount unknown until values or tax rate increase) would come through East Village. Unless EBHS can obtain new grants or re-establish a relationship with Neighborworks, their grant funds will not increase.

  2. Since the special service area grant awards eighteen cents per hundred dollars of tax (currently), the amount certainly does not allow for a large amount of loans made directly to be made from the organization itself. Rather that money, as I understand the original intent of the founders, is to be used to conduct the business of the corporation. From what I have seen, the salary of 48% of the annual budget is being misspent. As C. J. Summers pointed out in a recent blog on the Peoria Chronicle, the website is not being maintained, loans are not being made, and current information is not being made available to the constituents who pay the taxes that support the corporation. The EBNHS was never intended to be landlords or property owners, but to participate within the East Bluff to encourage and motivate the homeowners and residents to get involved in their neighborhoods, and to work with local lending institutions to obtain low interest rehabilitation and improvement loans for small business and homeowners on the East Bluff. The current ByLaws allow them to take money out of the area, and allows membership outside of the East Bluff, as well as assigning an Executive Director who is clearly not fulfilling her duties.
    And while you are correct in your statement that the EVGC TIF will not have funds for several years, this does not mean the taxes that do result from this effort will stay in the area. As has been stated many times, and confirmed by Randall Ray, TIF money can be reassigned at the discretion of the City Council. Now let's say the TIF does acquire some cash for lending. What happens when the City decides to use that cash to the benefit of OSF (does anyone doubt that is an underlying purpose of the TIF?) or to pay off the outstanding debts of the MidTown Plaza TIF (a serious possibility, despite the protestations of Councilman Riggenbach)? If the EBNHS, which is currently not making loans, still exists, the Council can simply say that the funds they are removing can be supplemented by the EBNHS, who will in turn plead poverty and blame the City Council, who will then simply smile and say "So What?".
    Having both agencies allows the City Council to play ping pong with the funds, no matter which funds we are talking about. Better to weed out one organization and deal with one SNAFU than to give the current government the opportunity to screw us twice.