Mt. Vernon Register-News

January 3, 2013

Somebody got the gold mine


CNHI

MT. VERNON — Editor:

Reading your newspaper about all the wild taxing and spending going on with the Mt. Vernon City Council for west side projects, I must wonder what the land speculators are up to. I must wonder whose pocket is being filled and whose pocket is being picked. Most likely it is the taxpayer who is being fleeced.

Also reading your newspaper, I can’t help comparing the city council with our little Village Board of Ina. Both come up with some cockeyed ways to spend money — leaving the bill to the taxpayer. Where you spend millions to benefit land speculators, millions to build a swimming pool and build sidewalks to nowhere, we spend $100,000 to build a sewer line to nowhere.

Let me explain. Four years ago the village board determined that our village needed to extend a three-quarter mile long sewer line along Oak Street from Ina north to the Sherwood Campground. Oak Street parallels Route 37 about a quarter of a mile west of the highway. The campground is located on the west side of Route 37 across from Kirk Cemetery.

The argument the village board used for the project made about as much sense as installing a tanning bed at a nudist colony. They told us it was needed because a man may want to build housing there for Rend Lake students. Now tell me why a man would want to build student housing on land more than two miles away from the college campus, when land is already available next to it with water and sewer service already there?

In fact, why would a man even want to get in the student housing business at all? The Illinois Community College System was designed around the idea that students could commute from home.

To pay for the project, our village issued $410,000 in bonds. The members of the board told the citizens that the project would pay for itself. They claimed that at least 12 to 15 houses and 40 campsites at the Sherwood Campground would more than pay for the annual debt service. Three years later (before going out of business), the campground had not hooked up a single campsite, and only five houses are hooked to the line.

What a boondoggle! The mayor and the board never gave the residents the opportunity to vote on the sewer line. I wonder why! The cost to the village was about $82,000 for each of the hookups. What a deal! One has to wonder what our board was thinking, and one has to wonder who benefits monetarily from the project. Was it the bond company who sold the bonds or the bank who now holds the funds or someone else?

In the cases of both communities, Mt. Vernon and Ina, somebody got the gold mine and the taxpayers got the shaft.

Bryce Heard

Ina