By: Diane Benjamin
Would you prefer an adequate number of Lifeguards on duty when you take your kids to the pool, or a historic building benefiting one lady?
If the taxpayers in Normal knew all the facts concerning the “historic” property at 305 Pine St, they might consider it a waste of their money. Let’s review:
The former Sprague’s Service Station, 305 Pine in Normal, was purchased by the Town of Normal from Terri Ryburn. The Town paid off her mortgage of $229,000, gave her $5,000 for her efforts, and bought a lot next to the property for what she paid: $24,000.
Ryburn gets to live in the second story for $120 per year for 10 years – as caretaker of the property. She is opening a gift shop on the first floor, the Pantagraph article states maybe as early as last fall – it still isn’t open. She was given a license to operate the shop, so she must be keeping any future profits.
The Town is paying property taxes on this property: $3,347.34
The Town paid $148,000 to replace the parking lot – note from you paying more sales tax:
This week Terri Ryburn has a full TWO pages in the Normalite reviewing Route 66 history. Here’s a snippet:
How much is Normal spending to complete the restoration of the building? Um . . .
Better yet, the gift shop is named after her! I thought the point of this building was its ties to Route 66. Ryburn Place doesn’t say much about Route 66.
I’m going all TIF on you again! If you don’t know TIF’s are government’s way to create money they can spend without you knowing about it until much later.
This property is in the One Normal Plaza TIF. The most recent information on that TIF is from 3/30/2016, on this report is has a deficit of $5,225,604. The TIF began 9/19/2009. See the report here: ftp://ftp.illinoiscomptroller.com/LocGovTIF/FY2016/06409531/16TIF06409531One_Normal_Place_1.pdf
Here’s the fun part:
The report shows Terri put $359,711 in this property
The Town so far has contributed $9,633 + $229,000, + $5,000 + $24,000 + $148,000 = $415,633. Most of this money was not generated by the TIF, it’s tax dollars. Last year the TIF made a whooping $13,495. The Town investment in this property won’t increase TIF income because they would be paying it to themselves. This 8-year-old TIF isn’t providing redevelopment dollars as promised, it’s being done with your taxes.
Shouldn’t the Town or citizens have a say in the gift ship name since it’s THEIR money? Terri will only operate it for 10 years, actually 9 since she’s already lost one because it still isn’t open.
These are other stories I’ve done about this property and TIF’s:
One more thing:
Lee Enterprises, parent company of the Pantagraph, announced profits for their latest quarter. Many of their reports praise their “aggressive debt reduction” for increasing profits.
Has the Pantagraph EVER reported negatively on government debt?
Has the Pantagraph EVER questioned Normal’s huge debt pile?
Has the Pantagraph ever questioned government’s fallacy of debt creates economic activity?
Lee Enterprises hates debt, but government debt is good?
Lee Enterprises’s accountants are smart, can’t say that much about the rest of the staff. Maybe government creating debt makes for good stories, as long as the total price with interest isn’t mentioned.