Courthouse now our responsibility
Seldom do we have need to ponder our responsibilities as a citizen of Henry County, Illinois. Well, we certainly think about it twice a year when we write our check to the county collector for property taxes, but other than that we, like most residents, just take for granted that all is well.
Now however, it is a time to really think about our duty as it pertains to the preservation of the courthouse. It is up to us and each resident to step up and consider what is our responsibility to a courthouse badly in need of repairs.
Here’s what we’ve concluded as we’ve explored the issue:
The courthouse was built over a hundred years ago by hard-working, diligent county residents as a functional seat of county government.
However, it is more than that. It is a testament to what they valued and were willing to sacrifice in order to ensure all received a lesson in civic pride and duty. It was designed to last as a lesson for future generations visualized in a magnificent building standing tall for all to see for miles around.
That legacy was entrusted to each future generation to nurture and care for. We believe as decades went by each governing board did what they thought best. Now time has taken its toll, and despite stopgap efforts, a major renovation project is required.
What was entrusted to us 130 years ago is now our responsibility. We must live up to the expectations of those forward-thinking leaders who so long ago formed a covenant with all future generations to continue their values and efforts.
The current county board has often divided their votes down partisan lines, but this issue has seen them truly united in a bipartisan vote. Twenty-three of the 24 board members voted to place this referendum on the ballot.
The one dissenter has presented his objections and sadly has exposed himself as a man with little knowledge of health and safety regulations in the construction industry.
He has demonstrated no knowledge of the fiscal conditions of the county, painting scary pictures without substance and at the same time misrepresenting the mechanics and conditions of the bond repayment structure in the hopes of frightening voters.
He also seems to have a number of petty grudges he wishes to drag up as justification for opposition to this totally unrelated initiative.
On the other hand, one board member has provided decades of unselfish service to the citizens of this county. He has served in good times and devastatingly sad times as a faithful elected official. Tom Nicholson is a man we trust completely and when he advocates for passage of this referendum, we know it is the right thing to do. We do not believe he and 22 other board members are wrong.
Community members outside of elected officials have presented their support for this referendum.
One of those who has been willing to share his expertise is Jerry Meyer from Orion. He is a fiscal expert with a lifetime of banking experience.
He has been able to clearly explain the bond interest rates, the payoff schedules and income expectations and in doing so has unequivocally demonstrated the value to the county of pursuing this method of funding the repairs.
Through his precise calculations we know that our family can expect to pay $14.30 a year in additional sales tax if our sales tax rate increases to 6.25 percent. Yesterday, we drove through Starbucks and paid over $9 for two cappuccinos, including another county’s sales tax of 10.0 percent. On reflection, we think we can find that fourteen dollars in our annual expenses without too much struggle.
Not to mention that whenever residents of that county visit Geneseo shops or buy gas at Casey’s, they will be contributing to our county.
So with all the pondering coming to a close, we can feel absolutely sure that a YES vote is the right thing to do and doing the right thing is feeling pretty darn good!
Jens and Judy Rehder, Andover