Bob Fischer: Elections, taxes, bonds and Mike Reilly

<p>Danielle Gardner / Staff Photographer/Naperville Sun 2009.01.19 Monday, Aurora Studio-- Head Shot of Naperville Sun Business Columnist Bob Fischer</p>

Danielle Gardner / Staff Photographer/Naperville Sun 2009.01.19 Monday, Aurora Studio-- Head Shot of Naperville Sun Business Columnist Bob Fischer

Random thoughts from a curmudgeonly and sometimes contrarian columnist …

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Conventional wisdom pegs the rationale for paltry poll turnout during the March elections as voter apathy. I think a more accurate description might be voter ennui.

Depending on where you live, and which party ballot you prefer to pull, there might not have been many compelling reasons to exercise your franchise. Coupling this with campaigns short on specifics and long on rhetoric, participating in the political process might not have seemed overly critical this time around.

As a side note, for those favoring term limits, primaries would seem to have been the time to offer a choice and not serve merely as a coronation for the incumbent. Hopefully November’s elections will generate more interest.

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My colleague Hank Beckman reported last weekend that College of DuPage President Robert Breuder wants the ability to offer four-year degrees for “areas of applied technology and career programs.”

I understand the need for focusing on these occupational areas, and appreciate that this type of education has the potential to open new opportunities in our communities. I really wonder, though, whether an institution funded by property taxes should be in this business.

What’s in it for homeowners to subsidize these career paths? Does “applied technology” really require a bachelor’s degree, or is this a continuing example of the belief that college degrees are not only a necessity, but an entitlement?

I hope whatever study and discussion this topic fosters considers the people footing part of the bill, and not just what works for institutions, faculty and students.

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The city of Naperville, with an affirmation of its top bond ranking in hand, is going to market next week to sell $17.3 million in general obligation bonds. More than a third of this bond issue, $6.2 million, will help fund the city’s share of public improvements associated with the Water Street project. An additional $4 million in Water Street borrowing will be required next year.

The belief remains that these loans will be relatively “self-funded” through an anticipated $8 million in Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) revenue and a quarter of a million annually from the downtown food and beverage tax. Of course, these projections require that the planned Water Street development be built, occupied, re-assessed and contribute tax dollars in a timely fashion.

I would feel a lot better about borrowing against this revenue stream if construction progress to date included more than the removal of a tree, new project signs, and press releases touting what will be “coming soon.”

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Last, but definitely not least, Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation Vice President Mike Reilly has been chosen the Naperville Jaycees 2014 Community Leader Distinguished Service Award winner.

The Homeowners Confederation is fortunate to share Mike with the Park District, West Suburban Irish, Indian Prairie Educational Foundation, and his wife, Lynda. The award will be presented April 17 at City Gate Grille.

For other honorees and ticket information go to the Jaycees’s website, www.naperjaycees.org.

Bob Fischer is president of the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation. Contact him at bobfischer@wowway.com.

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