Sales tax opponent responds to criticism

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic

In his Feb. 27 letter, Tom Steele explained his reasons for favoring the proposed county sales tax to make repairs to the Henry County courthouse. Also, he was responding to my letter of Feb. 20 and my reasons for opposing the tax. I will say that I believe Tom is sincere in his letter, however, I must now respond in turn to his letter.

Mr.?Steele says that the interest for the proposed $2.5 million for bonds would “only” be $1.1 million on the bonds we sell. He neglected to say that the bonding company will want its cut and that legal fees will be incurred. At this time, Mr.?Steele does not know just how much interest will accrue if the bonding issue is approved by the public on the April 7 referendum.?That will be determined by the bonding company at the time the bonds are purchased.

In today’s economy, neither the Illinois Department of Revenue, nor anyone else, can determine just how much sales tax revenue might be generated. They can make a project on previous years, but that data can no longer apply, as Geneseo has painfully learned.

Mr. Steele reported that the “rainy day” fund will be down to $1.9 million in May. However, as he mentioned, property taxes will be collected in June and the fund will be back to full status.

He wrote that I suggested we take $2.5 million out of the “rainy day” fund to pay for repairs. That was not my intent at all when I proposed a “pay as you go” plan.

I propose that we adopt a five-year plan for repairs; taking restricted fund money and “rainy day” money to finance repairs each year. In the first year, we should repair the roof for an estimated cost of $500,000 with $250,000 to come from restricted funds and another $250,000 from the general fund. The roof should be repaired now.

Finally, Mr. Steele writes that courthouse repairs have not been neglected. However, the public only has to read the minutes from the administration committee for the past several years to get an indication of where their emphasis has been placed. One would find that the committee has expended a lot of effort on the proposed construction of a parking lot; a project that is almost universally opposed by the citizens of Cambridge.

Twice the administrative committee has requested bids for the parking lot project. And how many times have they asked for bids for needed repairs on the courthouse roof??The answer is zero.

Bill Preston, Henry County?Board Member