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Council reduces SECA funding

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As part of its efforts to reduce its budget deficit, the city of Naperville recently approved taking 25 percent of the money collected for the SECA fund and using it to fill gaps in the general fund.

The SECA fund, which aids art, cultural and public service groups, is funded from a downtown food and beverage tax intended for this purpose.

As a result of the 25 percent cut, while $3,649,932 in requests for funding were made, the city was only able to distribute $2,028,515 in awards this year, down from $2,876,568.

With public service agencies and other art and cultural groups facing funding cuts from numerous sources, do you agree with the decision to take money away from what was intended to support these groups to pay for other city needs?

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35 Comments

By La Cucaracha on April 3, 2010 10:08 AM
Experienced, the money that NCTV gets from cable companies doesn't have to go to NCTV
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By federal law it has to go to public access. In the 1980's the Feds took control of regulation of cable TV and restricted what municipalities could collect from cable TV companies. Community access charges were one of the few charges that the Feds allowed. It has to be spent on community access.

Thanks, that looks about right. I guess it's where the other $300,000 that maybe concerns me. But that's for another blog sometime.

Experienced, the money that NCTV gets from cable companies doesn't have to go to NCTV. Why not fund other, higher priority services? My point is that the City Council has these "favorites" that they fund at all costs. As FBH says, no cuts to NCTV, why not? I heard that the NCTV people got huge raises a couple of years ago. Did the Library or Naper Settlement get cut? I don't recall hearing about that. Before we decide, let's look at the data. How many people, besides Dick F., actually watch NCTV? Or, do we fund it because public access is supposed to be good?

First, TB is correct. NCTV is earmarked to get $27000 this year. I was using last year's budget.

Of NCTV's $650000 budget, $350000 comes from community access fees from the companies.

Actually, I think NCTV does get some money from the city. NCTV has full-time employees that are paid. I don't think there is enough money from Comcast/AT&T to support all their full-time/part-time staff and equipment. I just thought it was interesting that when the city was laying people off and making cuts, NCTV came away unscathed. All I'm saying is watch where the SECA funding is actually going.

On March 22nd, the city council made the following SECA allocations:

$113,500 to subsidize the Carillon
$110,791 for Riverwalk maintenance
$123,601 for the municipal band
$146,535 for the subsidizing of the community grants coordinator and the collecting of the SECA tax
$31,500 for the 4th of July fireworks and shuttle buses (Ribfest)
$98,450 for various music programs
$154,500 for “visual arts”
$86,843 for theater and dance
$123,250 for “media and literature”, including $27,000 for NC17
$50,175 for “ethnic” programs, including $22,500 for the Annual Harvest Pow Wow
$260,835 for “arts education”, including $250,000 for the Children’s Museum
$142,084 for “Events without city services”, including $25,000 for the Jazz Festival which is over-rated and over-priced
$403,616 for “Events with city services”, including more than $300,000 for Ribfest and Last Fling

More than $2 million in total.

[source: http://www.naperville.il.us/emplibrary/FY11%20SECA%20Preliminary%20Funding.pdf]

This at the same time that the NPD is cutting back on non-emergency responses and closing the front desk?

Now, as I’ve already stated…I’m not one for raising a tax for one reason and using it for another. However, the city council has obviously lost sight of what their priorities should be.

Oust the entire city council – every last one of them. They’re proven to be irresponsible with OUR money.

T.B.

Did anyone consider that NCTV is funded by money received from Comcast AT&T and WOW for community access. No community access channel, no money coming from the 3 providers for community access. No City money involved.

Maybe we could make NCTV XXX after 10 pm and make it a pay per view channel to generate some revenue?

As a community access channel, perhaps we could attract free talent for live performances and reduce the content cost to zero, all profit all the time?

Or we could try cutting costs?

WSJ Toledo's Fiscal Reckoning
City Takes on Unions as it Manages to Patch a $48 Million Budget Gap

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303410404575152062149350800.html?mod=WSJ_hp_editorsPicks

FBH: A good suggestion. It is not clear to me either that we get our bang for the buck with NCTV. Sell it for what we can get for it and lets get out of the TV business. And if you cannot sell it, write it off. Who watches a re-broadcast of the Naperville St. Patricks Day parade? It is a toy shop for the Naperville up and comers being paid for by our dime. Enough already. "Pull the plug on 17".

I don't really care about SECA funding. I just wanted to make an appearance on this blog. Cut all of NCTV's funding requests and that should make up some of the deficit.

Quote from today's Sun:

I would like to remind everybody that it doesn't get any easier next year. In fact, it'll get tougher," said Councilman Richard Furstenau following the vote. "This budget includes money that we have taken out of funds, $2 million dollars worth, and that will not exist next year."

Also next year, the drop in the value of homes around Naperville that began with the burst of the housing bubble in 2008 will appear on the tax rolls. The projection is "a 5 percent decrease, because we won't have any of the good years in the three-year average," DeAngelis said.

That means either more cuts or more taxes aren't far off.

"The equalized assessed value next year will start to go down as the value of real estate goes down in terms of market value," said Councilman Robert Fieseler. "So in terms of whole dollars, our tax rate is going to have to go up to preserve the same amount of money coming in through property taxes."

IN other words, they have no intention of changing the way they do business - they will continue to waste money on projects we don't need, like the Electric Grid or the Test Track. Before they even CONSIDER asking for a nickel in taxes, they should each release their tax returns so that we can see that they are "suffering" just like the rest of us as they claim. Maybe a full disclosure of upper management salary AND BONUS pay for the past three years as well? If their sacrifices truly are the same as those of the people who live and work in the community, then we can all sign up for higher taxes and more service cuts - - - but if they aren't, then I would suggest a real hard look at the way they are doing business in this city.

To: By my 2 cents. Sorry to offend you little lady. But you resorting to name calling makes me ashamed of nothing. YOU inferred racism in my lengthy post in just two words. Thats one of your problems, not mine. When you go to bed tonight, think about what your hero said during his campaign for the White House. Remember how he was going to be the education president, providing money and funding for programs and the hiring of tens of thousands of teachers. Remember how you were noddling in approval as the false promises. You may wish to not hold his feet to the fire but I do. He is simply a disgraceful, lying politician as so many are. And remember this: the CBO announced today the federal budget deficit went from $56K per household in 9/09 to $72K in 1/10. I will let you deal with your own racism issues since your prism seems to limit your intellect. I am worried that your incompetent president and his cronies will bankrupt this nation and my household before we can clear their narrow behinds out of office in 9/10 and 9/12. We start locally now with SECA and our prized school districts. The funding is drying up fast. Start living within your means and don't spend my money that even I do not have.

The 25% cut is too small and should have been no less then 75%. We don't need to spend money to support art and cultural when we are in a deep recession and unemployment is sky high.

Anonymous asked:

anyone else recognize the phraseology? "Let Us"?

Good catch. That is one of the shibboleths of a particular someone who used to be a frequent Potluck contributor, isn't it?

-JQP

Hey "glock 22", leave your racist comments to yourself, you should be ashamed of the cotton picking comment jerk!

As one who does not believe in taxpayer funded art and culture (art and culture should be solely promoted by and for those citizens who choose to do so) I welcome any reduction or elimination of such funding by government. Anyone remember the expensive taxpayer funded stained glass windows on a parking deck on Franklin? Good grief! We as citizens need to throw a net on government at all levels and make it accountable to us. They work for us, we do not serve them. According to the Sun-Times today (pages 4A-5A) 9,800 IL teachers and support staff will be laid off this year, 1,600 retirees will not be replaced and with 75% of the districts reporting, total planned layoffs in Illinois schools is estimated at 17,000. Then the default Gov. Quinnby announces he has defied the voters and selected Sheila Simon to run as Lt. Governor now that the elected pawnbroker candidate has stepped aside. Said Quinnby announcing the selection, I chose Sheila because she is a woman, represents downstaters on the ticket and she is a Simon legacy. WTF? This is how nit wit party bosses in this state work. A legacy! Like Hynes, Madigan, Jackson and on and on. The worse part of the entire mess in this state is people like WTF? who freguently post here, will firmly stand behind any Democrat be it the cotton picking president to the former indicted Gov. Rod. I suppose when you are stuck on stupid you receive the bad government you support. This Obama character promised in his campaign that HE would be the education president. Charlie McBarron of the IEA and all the teachers and their ilke supported Obama. Packing and wildly cheering his campaign events, now they boo hoo because the government is broke and cannot live up to its promises to them.
Now back to my own budget review. Time to find ways to cut more expense however I will tell you, it is getting to the point there will be a riot and social unrest in my house. I cut the dog down to one meal a day and I can save $75 a week if the rest of us only eat twice.

Still staying on the City Council subject-I saw in the Daily Herald, missed it in the Sun, if they had it, that our own Dick Furstenau will be the city's man on the DuPage Water Commission. Where did that come from? Are you telling me that the Mayor and Council actually appointed this guy to a position of status, power and authority? You've got to be kidding me. Let's recap...

He sues the city in a frivolous lawsuit that costs the taxpayers $1M

He's a complete a## to any resident or staff member that doesn't share his psychopathic opinions

I welcome the Mayor and/or any City Concilmen to tell us why they would appoint him to this position. Was there any public input, or just another back room deal? "You appoint me to this and I won't file a lawsuit for three months."

One last thought. Appointing him to this position gives him standing in the next election. So, what I'm seeing is that the Mayor and Council want him around. Why, what deals are being made here? This was a political opportunity to neuter him, and they turned it into a positive for him.

Let us not worry about the Joneses

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anyone else recognize the phraseology? "Let Us"?

Wake up, these are time sensitive tax meters that will be used to collect extra local, state and federal taxes from environmentally irresponsible people who don't do their laundry at 3 am, like your grandmother.

The City is going to get some grease out of this charade which is why they are going along with screwing the citizens again while keeping the money flowing to their supporters and sponsors.

These kind of billing arrangements and meters have been used for years for very large users of electricity who typically choose to run the factories at night when the power is cheaper. Not for grannies who have to eat buttered noodles three times a day because the city council is taxing their life savings out from under them if they are dumb enough to stay in Naperville or Illinois for that matter.

Who would want to live near their children and grandchildren?

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NO 11,000,000 Electric Grid .... residents don't want it, and no one really knows whether it will save a single penny down the road. It might, but it just as easily might not - does that sound like a good 11,000,000 investment????

Kevin

I'm sorry. I didn't know that you condoned the dissemination of misinformation. The poster said that because of the SECA tax, s/he patronized Wheaton restaurants. S/he of course didn't mention that Wheaton has a home rule sales tax ON ALL ITEMS. I was only setting the record straight that when s/he patronized any establishment in Wheaton, s/he was paying an extra tax there also and, therefore, was not accomplishing his/her desired result.

Experienced,
Let us not worry about the Joneses. Let us worry about ourselves and what we can afford.

We are the wealthiest town in America with such a large population. Imagine the wealthiest town being underwater to the tune of tens of million in its annual budgets and having over a 100 million in pension deficits.

If you can not make ends meet being the wealthiest large town in America with unusual opportunities for high real estate taxes, high sales taxes and whatever else, something is awfully wrong.

I once again call for all 9 City Council members to resign immediatley and unconditionally for utter incompetence and lack of fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers.

I agree that tax dollars should not be used to fund arts or projects outside the scope of government, especially in times like these. Each individual has the opportunity to support whatever cause they wish, and it isn't the City Councils job to decide that for any of us. Not to worry though, the City Council has no intention of listening to anyone at this point - they have shown time and time again that their minds are made up - that they will do exactly as they please, and that they aren't the least bit concerned about what anyone thinks, be it residents or staff.

I disagree with Kevin about the 50% insurance payments - though only to a degree. I think that staff should be responsible for significantly more of the insurance, however, I believe it should be done with fairness and logic. In my opinion, a manager who makes 150,000 a year should have to pay a higher dollar amount than an employee that makes 25,000 or 30,000 a year. This was suggested to the City Manager, but it went no where. Know why? Because although it would be the FAIR way to make up the difference in Insurance payments, it would cost the IMPORTANT people more money - and we can't have that! Same reason taking away the Director level car allowances was never seriously considered. Do people who make over $100,000 a year really NEED a car allowance? OF COURSE NOT - but why deal with the possibility of making them unhappy when you can just take things away from the regular employee's who do 99% of the actual work!

IF the City Manager, or the City Council really WANTED to balance the budget without raising taxes or fee's, it would incredibly simple to do, they simply choose not to. START by completely eliminating the ego spending!!!!! That's right - no more. NO 11,000,000 Electric Grid .... residents don't want it, and no one really knows whether it will save a single penny down the road. It might, but it just as easily might not - does that sound like a good 11,000,000 investment???? How about we get rid of that INCREDIBLE waste of money and space they call the "test track". Guess what, NO ONE USES that thing, no one ever will - how much is that property worth????????

OH, and if they are ever really serious about cutting spending and NOT making up for their mistakes on the backs of the residents and employees - what about cutting MANAGEMENT positions. Not a token here and a token there - but TRULY cutting them. When there's a $100,000 a year job that hasn't produced a SINGLE useful thing in more than 3 years, MAYBE, just maybe - that should be addressed instead of ignored. The empire mentality that it is important to keep a position in place just in case we need it later has GOT to go. SAVE that 100,000 now, and if you truly do need the position later, put it back in place. If nothing has been produced there in years, YOU DON'T NEED IT. See what happens when you address real problems head on - the productivity will surprise you AND you will have a much easier time balancing your budget.

Add it up folks - just these three suggestions alone would MORE than close the budget gap - no need for Gasoline tax's, no need to pay more for Garbage, no need to stick it to the families of the working members of the staff - but the budget would still be balanced, with $$$ to spare!

By Izwydopn on March 25, 2010 12:35 PM
I have my own way of dealing with the SECA tax --- whenever possible, I use the services at the surrounding communities!

This tax should be stopped immediately. They passed it in "flush times" thinking they could do anything because "..we are Naperville, and only great things happen in Naperville!".

Until that day,Wheaton & Lisle, in particualr, will continue to be the recipients of my food & beverage dollars.
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What about the extra .5% added to EVERYTHING in Wheaton?

Actually the Blue Bloods had the council pass this to fund the failed Carillon project who's costs mushroomed out of control once the Blue Bloods had the green light from the City for the government bail out.

Has the Council finished siphoning off money from the downtown to pay for Blue Bloods toy? Looks like it.


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By Izwydopn on March 25, 2010 12:35 PM

I have my own way of dealing with the SECA tax --- whenever possible, I use the services at the surrounding communities!

This tax should be stopped immediately. They passed it in "flush times" thinking they could do anything because "..we are Naperville, and only great things happen in Naperville!".

Until that day,Wheaton & Lisle, in particualr, will continue to be the recipients of my food & beverage dollars.

Anon 5678 –

I agree that police, fire, and infrastructure are more important than the arts. I’ve been against the SECA Fund from the start. Basically my point was that if they want a sales tax to go into the general fund, then state so explicitly and don’t pull this crap about how this is all for the arts but will be diverted at will.

If nothing else, this just goes to prove that the fund isn’t all that necessary and after the economy improves and the city is in less financial difficulty, the fund (and the tax that funds it) should be reduced by at least half.

T.B.

I have my own way of dealing with the SECA tax --- whenever possible, I use the services at the surrounding communities!

This tax should be stopped immediately. They passed it in "flush times" thinking they could do anything because "..we are Naperville, and only great things happen in Naperville!".

Until that day,Wheaton & Lisle, in particualr, will continue to be the recipients of my food & beverage dollars.

I agree with those who say that SECA funds should only be used for the express purposes for which the tax was created.

In response to Kevin, while I do think city employees should pay more than 15% of the cost of their health care premiums, a 50% contribution and the elimination of the prescription drug benefit and dental insurance is way too extreme, and is NOT reflective of what is offered in the private sector.

-JQP

Kevin, right on about the City Council and benefits. There is no way that they should be talking about benefits or pension reform, then get benefits and IMRF or Police (Mayor) pensions. It's total hypocracy. They should not get paid, or benefits. Mr. Moderator, what does the the Mayor and Council's salary and benefits cost us? That's a story in itself.

Oh, BTW, loved the hot dog article in todays paper. Because the City Manager and Council people eat at the stand it's great. That's the reason to have it? Because Dick F. likes hot dogs. That guy cost us $1 million bucks in a BS lawsuit and we should listen to him? I will say, if you let one guy have a cart, you should let others. Just because this guy is a friend of City Councilman he gets special treatment?

TB....I get what you are saying. That is something that is done in every government. And although I disagree with the tactic, I look at it more like this.

Art is great and all but what is more important? To me, basic infastructure is the no brainer answer on that one. I would rather have my police, fire and basic city functions operating than funding arts, etc. No offense against those groups, but like I said..........times are tough.

In fact they should be doing more of this at the state level.

And TB, I have seen your posts before. You follow locals more than I. And thank you for doing so. I'm going on the assumption that the money they are applying to the city functions in good faith. You may very well no better.

Cultural and art groups should be raising their own money by pounding the sidewalks, through contributions, the old fashioned way, like Homeless Man Scott Huber does it.

The Seca Tax should be eliminated and all money returned to the taxpayers from whom it was pilfered. Reducing taxes stimulates the economy. Increasing taxes destroys the economy.

Our 9 Council Members have been as wishy washy as they come the last several years. Their decisions have now come to bite them in the rear.

I am calling for all of them to resign, including Dick Furstenau who voted that city employees should only pay for 15% of their health premiums. He could have demanded that the health insurance policies have a 2500-5000 deductible as is seen in the private sector instead of just 100-200 dollars. He could have demanded that city employees pay 50% of their health premiums and eliminated dental and prescription benefits.

Who cares if some fiscally sound cities only make their employees only pay 26% on a Chevrolet policy? We have a Lambrughini policy for our city employees we simply can not afford! We are spoiling our city employees with money we don't have. The City of Naperville has a mentality of keeping up with the Joneses. We need to stop worrying about keeping up with the Joneses and only buy what we can afford. Naperville has not been synonomous with Frugalville since 1990.

The city of Naperville has borrowed tens of millions of dollars to pay for ridiculous employee benefits. Guess why? The city council members get the benefits, too. What a massive conflict of interest? What a mess? Please resign all council members. We need honesty in government and you certainly do not provide it.

This scheme is a joke. I've heard it called funding for the City Council's favorites and hobbies. It makes no sense that they feel fine about complaining about rising costs on one hand, then pay $150k for cartoon statues on the other. I guess they justify it by saying that they are different funding sources, set up for different purposes-in other words, a way to justify the slight of hand.

Nero continues to fiddle...

Sorry Anon 5678, but I agree with just plain Anon.

If you want the money to go to the general fund, than pass the law that way. Don’t pass a law saying the money will be used for one purpose and divert it to another. In any field except government, that would be considered deception (or fraud).

In addition to this latest pillaging of the SECA Fund, the NPD OT reimbursements go into the city’s general fund and not back the NPD budget. So all that money the SECA Fund just gave to the Exchange Club and Jaycees for Ribfest and Last Fling will come back to the general fund, too.

This all goes to show that the SECA Fund is nothing more that a slush fund for the city council and they can’t be trusted with our money.

I’d say shame on them for doing this to us, but really it should be shame on us for allowing it to happen.

T.B.

Passing a law to collect a tax for one purpose and then using that tax money for any other purpose is immoral and, if not already, should be made illegal.

If the beneficiaries of the SECA funds are not going to receive the tax money collected for that express purpose then the tax should either be repealed or significantly reduced to match the current level of award funding.

It's good to see a government actually cutting back and making the tough decisions. All for it. Sorry SECA. No offense. But the economy stinks with not much hope on the horizon. These are tough times.

This money should go solely for events that boost business in the City and in the downtown.

Funding every group with a good hard luck story, true or not, does nothing for the economy of the City and funds programs that few if any would support with their own money.

I'm guessing that if put to a referendum, the parades would be approved and the rest of the proposals would be denied by the citizens. The Naperville Blue Bloods and the left wing activists should get their money the old fashioned way, earn it. Gaming the City Council for free money has to stop.

Any chance the City Council can invite the woman who runs one of the city's favorite charities to give a speech to the Council on how the US treats it citizens just like NAZI Germany. Since I am funding her point of view, I think the City Council should give her an hour on TV while the council listens carefully.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Magee, moderator published on March 22, 2010 10:39 PM.

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