letter to editor

Here we go again with “rec-less spending!” We can’t believe anything Wood River tells us. The city was hiding a secret plan that the mayor has worked on for months that shifts money around to pay for the proposed rec center. I sent a FOIA request trying to get information, but the city refused to release documents for weeks. The documents weren’t released until late Friday, Sept. 18, after my attorney threatened an injunction to delay a special hearing scheduled for Sept. 21. This is what happened.

In 2019, the city told residents a 1 percent sales tax was needed to build a detention pond to control flooding and other projects. However, the city already had funds available in an existing business tax district and didn’t need the money. The city approved plans on Sept. 21 for the existing business tax district to pay for the detention pond in a new business tax district instead of the 1 percent sales tax. The city is using funds they always had, but didn’t tell us about, to pay for the detention pond. The detention pond was just a decoy to get the 1 percent sales tax approved. This frees up funds in the 1 percent sales tax to pay for the rec center. This is a classic bait and switch!

I suspected something was happening in April during a special budget meeting when a member of the council mentioned the existing business tax district would reimburse the 1 percent sales tax for land that was purchased to construct the detention pond. At a special Roundhouse presentation in July, the park and rec director asked the late councilwoman Gale Ufert if she would continue to oppose the rec center if it didn’t cost anything. She paused, realizing it was a loaded question, and answered, “no.” I knew something was up, so after the meeting I asked Gale if she knew what was going on. She told me she didn’t. And now that’s exactly what they want us to believe. This is voodoo economics!

The city plans to repair just three streets per year, and that’s with funds from the state, not the city. A resident filed a lawsuit against the city after tripping on our sidewalks and suffering severe head injuries. A resident got stuck and fell out of a wheelchair when using a sidewalk near the Roundhouse. We need flood prevention and our sewers, streets and sidewalks repaired. A new rec center shouldn’t be placed ahead of these vital needs. The city will spend virtually all the 1 percent sales tax money and now the business tax district funds on loans without our approval, but our property taxes become the security to guarantee these loans.

Call City Hall at (618) 251-3100 and tell them to stop the spending on the proposed rec center and start a long-term plan to properly develop our city. This deception must end!

Nov. 3, vote “yes!”

Bill Dettmers

Wood River Stop “Rec”less Spending/Save the Roundhouse Campaign

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