Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
At about the 5 minute mark, Mayor Cole lays out options A, B, C, D and F. Reinstating the property tax would generate about $1.3 million, while raising the sales tax would generate about $1 million, leaving about $300, 000 to be made up through job cuts. He points out that option D, privatizing refuse collection, is an option that many communities in the area have already adopted.
At the 13 minute mark, Cole starts discussing Option E, privatizing water and sewage. This would reduce pension liabilities by 65%, allow the city to play cash for the proposed fire and police stations, save approximately $2 million per year in debt service, and allow the city to cut sales taxes by 1/4%. Though city employees in the affect departments would lose their jobs, the city could negotiate with the buyer a requirement to hire all affected employees at similar wage and benefit level, though not with the same pension benefits and also negotiate a freeze on water rates for 1-2 years after the purchase, with any future rate increases having to go before the Illinois Commerce Commission. Water rates would probably rise after the freeze expires by 10-20% but the city already has to raise rates anyway, with a 5% increase this year and another 5% increase coming next year.
At the 26 minute mark, the mayor turns to option F: leaving all taxes alone, not selling the water system and balancing the budget through staff cuts. He estimates that of the 266 full time equivalent positions, 21 would have to be cut. Police and fire department employees are off the table, so that would require a 12.5% cut in other city staff.
At the 28 minute mark, he then comments that city council members are focused on a tax increase, while he is focused on not raising taxes. He believes there are lots of examples where Option E has worked to the benefit of the cities that have privatized their water but that opponents will find one bad example to rally around. He has been working about 6-8 weeks on developing Option E. The city manager and staff proposed option b, raising the property tax. something has to be done by the start of the 2011 fiscal year. If the property tax, it would need to be voted on within the next month, if the sales tax, by April. Privatization of the water system would take 3-6 months to do.
AT the 31 minute mark, one of the interviews comments that, as the mayor, he has no preference for any of the option. Mayor Cole comments he's in favor of option E, to avoid raising taxes or cutting services. It accomplished the goals of relieving debt, funding the safety centers and funding pensions. About 30 employees would be affected. Water quality would be maintained and the city would retain the rights to Cedar Lake. The city would likely guarantee a certain level of water provided to the new owner and sell them water needed over that level.
At the 38:30 minute mark, the mayor says that there isn't much left to privatize besides water and sewage. There are areas that could be cut but most of the cuts that could be made would be so small they wouldn't do anything to balance the budge. Since Cole was elected the city has eliminated 11 full time equivalency positions and there may be a few more positions that could be cut, but not without reducing services. He believes the city is at a good staffing level now as most of the departments are flat and pretty efficient. There aren't a lot of extraneous positions to be reduced. At the 43 minute mark, the Southern asks about council's reaction and he comments he hasn't told them yet, the Southern's editorial board is the first people to whom he has presented it. He then says there are probably two council members who will be opposed to it and that it will require a supermajority, 5 votes to approve the sale.
At the 45 minute mark, the conversation returns to pension obligations and savings from the sale.. With pensions, the city is paying for the equivalent of 2 people in every position. The option of not eliminating the sales tax after the privatization is also brought up and the mayor says that is also an option, which would leave an additional $2 million a year to spend on services. Privatization would also reduce workman's compensation payments by about $250,000. At the 52 minute mark, Mayor Cole comments that he wanted to have a chance to explain the proposal and have a chance to answer any questions, since he wouldn't be able to answer any tonight. When asked about the reaction he expects at the meeting, he comments that half the people will be in favor of the proposal, half will be opposed and the other half won't care. When all is said and done, people leave it up to the council to figure things out for them. People want to be safe in their homes at night, they want to have the services they need and they want to be able to pay their bills. There's an overwhelming resentment towards government right now and an overwhelming resistance toward taxes. People are looking for leadership and they're not willing to pay more in taxes. we have to be creative. It's not thinking outside of the box, the box is gone and there are no other alternatives. We all have to solve these problems. The armchair quarterbacks can gripe and complain but they aren't coming up with ideas. Option E is an alternative that doesn't involve taxes. We don't have to do it but we need to look at all options.
At the 57 minute mark, the property tax is brought back up and mention is made that it has to be voted on by the Dec. 17 council meeting so time is important. Trash collection privatization is brought up again and the mechanics of how it would work are discussed and the conversation ends with a return to the long term savings of the water privatization proposal.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Mayor told the crowd that they were getting worked up over nothing, this was just a proposal, and there was no chance it would even be passed, which is certainly an interesting to look at it given the amount of discussion given to the privatization option in the proposal. Options A,B, C, D, and F get a total of two pages while the privatization option gets three pages all to itself.
After the mayor spoke his piece, there was more discussion about why privatization was a BAD THING and a petition was passed around, which garnered some 200 signatures opposing the proposal. From what I gather, Councilpeople Fritzler and Pohlmann have said they oppose the proposal, Haynes and McDaniel are neutral, and Jack and Wissmann's views are uncertain.
I'm expecting a loooooong city council meeting on Dec 1 as I bet there will be a lot of citizen comments on the privatization proposal.
I wanted to update you on some matters of interest.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed health care reform legislation and now the U.S. Senate will be considering a separate health care reform bill that is likely to be very different from the House bill. If the Senate is able to get enough votes to pass a bill, then a conference committee will be appointed to work out the differences between the two bills. Therefore, I would suggest that you contact Senators Durbin and Burris to express your opinion on health care reform.
On another topic, you may be one of 128 people in our area who have a refund coming from the IRS. There is over $110,000 in undeliverable or unclaimed refunds, from tax year 2008, that were due to constituents of the 12th Congressional District. For more details, including the list of taxpayers who have not received their refund, please go to my website at costello.house.gov.
Please feel free to forward this message to friends and neighbors you think might be interested in this issue.
Jerry F. Costello
12th District of Illinois
Monday, November 23, 2009
"Please spread the word about this meeting and try to come to the meeting and bring friends! This coming Tuesday, 7-9PM at Longbranch Coffeehouse. Privatization of Carbondale's water would be TERRIBLE. These corporations that buy local water systems have a pattern of raising the prices sky high and also neglecting the infrastructure. There are plenty of testimonials from cities that did privatize their water and really wish they hadn't. Some have had to sue for years to get it back! We must convince the City Council members not to do this! Please come for the discussion and planning. See the flyer attached and spread the word!" Barb McKasson
My bet is that the Mayor gets everyone so stirred up with his water privatization proposal that one of the other proposals slides through with nary a hint of protest. As PeterG pointed out in comments, Mayor Cole has done an extremely good job of defining the conversation on his terms.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Yeah, sales tax collections are down and SIUC is having problems, but our economic underpinnings, at least measured by this metric, look good, especially compared to the rest of the state.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
According to Wallace, what you see at the above link is about 90% completed, with work still needing to be done on Chapter 5, Economic Development. After that is completed, the finished plan will go before the Planning Commission for a vote in Jan. or Feb. If approved by the commission, it goes before the City Council for a vote to adopt in Feb. or March. From then on, all development within the city is supposd to be measured against the Plan, to see if said development is taking the city in the way we just spent a year determining we want to go. At least, that's what is supposed to happen. My bet is, we pay attention to the plan for about a year, then it gets put on a shelf and ignored until someone decides it's time to write another one.
Incidentally,t he other attendee at the meeting took a reference in the Plan to the city fostering entrepreneurship as an opportunity to launch into a lengthy complaint about how the city risked crushing the entrepreneurial spirit of its citizens because it had enforced the code moving the non-complying mobile homes to places where they would be in compliance. My guess is, he was looking for an opportunity to complain again about the amendment and seized on that part of the plan as a hook on which to hang his complaint.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
"Coal Country" Event
In Appalachia, miners and residents are locked in conflict. "Coal Country" is a documentary that tells of the dramatic struggle around the use of coal, which provides over half the electricity in America. Shawnee Group Sierra Club will be showing this movie on Thursday, November 19th, at 7:00 PM at the Carbondale Township meeting room at 217 East Main St. in Carbondale (across from Bank of Carbondale).
Steve Fesenmaier, film reviewer for the Charleston Gazette, says, " 'Coal Country' is the best film on mountaintop removal to date…the interviews with miners, one owner and opponents are touching and revealing. This film should win an Oscar…."
Appalachia contains the most biodiversity of any area in the United States. Are we willing to sacrifice these beautiful mountains and the lives of the people who live there? Is there a better way? What is the true cost of coal? Is there such a thing as "clean coal" or "cheap energy?' Through this film, we meet the people involved in the mountaintop removal conflict - all sides. We also witness the strip mining process and the beauty of the area.
We will hold a discussion after the movie and there will be an opportunity for letter writing if you are moved to do something about this issue. This is a very timely issue, because the U.S. EPA is currently in a decision process to determine whether or not pushing mountaintops into streams violates the Clean Water Act. Over 2000 miles of mountain streams have been buried so far in Appalachia because of mountaintop removal coal mining.
This event is free and open to the public. Parking is in the lot off of Monroe St. and Marion St. Look for the green building and enter through the back door off of the alley. The front door will be locked.
"Coal Country" is a documentary that tells of the dramatic struggle around the use of coal, which provides over half the electricity in America. Shawnee Group Sierra Club will be showing this movie on Thursday, November 19th, at 7:00 PM at the Carbondale Township meeting room at 217 East Main St. in Carbondale, IL. Discussion will follow. Refreshments and live music are included. Free to all.
1. do nothing and hope the problem goes away. Always popular.
2. Re-instate the property tax. This is the proposal of the city staff and would generate about $1.3 million per year. Corine McDaniel was the only council person to speak out in favor of this one; rather she spoke out against the proposed sales tax increase (#3).
3. Increase the sales tax by .25 % to 8%. This would raise an estimated $1 million. The other $300,000 would come through the reduction of 6 city staff positions. Councilmen Jack, Wissmann and Haynes spoke in favor of this option, though probably not the staff reduction.
4. Increase the sales tax by .25% to 8% and privatize the city's refuse collection, instead of staff reductions. The privatization would raise about $300,000, thus keeping the six staff positions.
Update: There are significant discrepancies with the rates cited in the EIU editorial and the statistics published by SIUC. I count 10 total reported instances of aggravated assault at SIUC in 2008, compared to 6 instances at EIU and 84 burglaries, compared to 43 at EIU. If you just look at on campus incidents only, there are 22 burglaries at EIUC, compared to 43 at SIUC and 6 instances of aggravated assault on campus at SIUC compared to 4 at EIU. D. Gorton has an email to the editor of the EIU paper asking for the source of his statistics.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Also, it's interesting that McAndrew stays up until the new staduim gets built. Maybe the new standium is less certain that it seems?
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
TO: SIUC Faculty and Staff
> The Chancellors and I have been reviewing the economic conditions > of the state over the last few months. Due to the economic > downturn and resulting cash flow problems since July 1, 2009, the > State of Illinois has, as of November 1st, missed payments to > Southern Illinois University totaling $115 million. While we had > hoped the payments would materialize over the last four months, the > funding shortfall has only grown. Until payments are restored, it > is necessary to protect the salaries of our employees.
> Thus, effective immediately, and until further notice, most > expenditures not related to salaries ordinarily paid with state > funds or unrestricted local funds will be halted or slowed. Salary > and other required expenditures will be as authorized by Chancellor > Goldman or his designee(s). For the School of Medicine > (Springfield, Carbondale and affiliate sites), authorization for > salary and other required expenditures is delegated to the Dean and > Provost and his designee(s). Details regarding authorized expenses > will be forthcoming from the Chancellor/Provost/Vice Chancellors/ > Dean and Provost of the School of Medicine.
> Your assistance and understanding in limiting costs during this > time is most appreciated. I regret that these actions are > necessary, but I'm optimistic that we can work together to navigate > through these economic difficulties.
> Glenn Poshard
> Southern Illinois University
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Mt. Vernon 7.88
While Carbondale is certainly not the highest in the area, property taxes here are significantly higher than Marion and it's probably not a good idea to raise them much higher if Carbondale want to remain competitive with Marion, given Marion's proximity to the interstate and relatively lax attitude towards zoning.
Clarification: As Brain rightly points out in the comments, Carbondale has no property tax imposed by the city. These figures are aggregated property taxes imposed by various taxing districts existing within the city. Also, the figures are at least three years old so very well may have fluctuated since then.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
One procedural correction to Thomas' story. Unless I missed something, Lance Jack had advanced a motion to the floor but it died for lack of a second. There was never any motion on the floor to table.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
“There has been in an increase in robberies more recently than anything,” O’Guinn said. “The total numbers are outrageous from years past.”