Since we’ve gone through the process of debunking Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns’ recent claims of fiscal responsibility (if he even uttered the words “fiscal conservative,” he’d burst into flames), let’s move on to his supposed economic development “accomplishments.”
1. Since 2001, more than 700,000 square feet of commercial/retail space has been developed.
That’s because of the Commons, which not only fell right into Geneva’s lap, but it has yet to perform anywhere near expectations. And when Barnes & Noble goes out – which it inevitably will – it’s going to get even worse.
2. Since 2001, more than 500,000 square feet of industrial space has been developed.
First of all, a half a million square feet of industrial development ain’t nuthin’ and most of it’s due to the fine folks at the Northern Illinois Food Bank who don’t pay any real estate taxes.
3. Since 2001, more than $200,000,000 in public improvements have been invested in Geneva’s electric, water, wastewater and public safety programs to ensure reliable, responsible and affordable services for generations to come.
While Geneva has made some prudent infrastructure investments, those two three hour plus summer power outages show there’s plenty of work to be done. And if that utility was so sound why are all the linemen racking up six figure salaries via all sorts of overtime?
In addition, the sewer system has been almost completely ignored for almost three decades.
As far as “affordable” goes, at a time when residents can least afford it, Geneva’s water and electric rates have risen significantly year after year.
4. Geneva has experienced 11 consecutive months of increased sales tax revenue thanks to creative small businesses and investments by regional and national retailers – this fiscal year alone sales tax revenue is up 5%.
And so has every one else! It’s called a “dead cat bounce” which is a result of an economy that had nowhere to go but up. And the mayor had nothing to do with it. The truth is, sales tax revenue for FY 2012-13 will, once again, fall below that of any year between 2004 and 2008.
5. Downtown Geneva’s vacancy rate has declined from 15% to 8% in the last year alone.
Another misleading statement. Because even though downtown Geneva still attracts businesses, the new ones are nowhere near the quality of the ones that left or closed.
Just how many Jewelry stores, furniture stores and massage spas does one city need? The corner of Third and State used to be Kiss the Sky, 302 West, Merra-Lee and Starbucks. Now it’s Perlman Jewelers, State Street Jewelers is moving west, a night club that’s already been cited for liquor violations, and Starbucks.
Because of a lack of a real effort by city staffers like Ellen Divita, downtown Geneva is being Galena-fied which is the beginning of the end. Their insistent refusal to attract mid-range national retailers like Eddie Bauer or Chicos to will mean the ultimate end of downtown Geneva as a meaningful shopping location.
6. Geneva’s vacancy rate on Randall Road is 3% (far below regional averages).
Again, the mayor and the city have very little to do with it. The market will bear what the market will bear. I could do the same thing on my worst day.
7. Geneva’s vacancy rate in its industrial park is 2% (far below regional averages).
So what! Again we’re talking a major non-profit and Geneva’s minimal industrial base does virtually nothing to mitigate our huge property tax burden.
8. Construction of the Third Street Commuter/Shopping Parking Deck.
That’s Metra! Again, the city has very little to do with it.
9. Beginning Construction of the Kautz Road/Rt. 38 at grade crossing to improve efficiency on Geneva’s East Gateway.
That’s Kane County and Metra! It’s like taking credit for the snow that falls within our municipal boundaries.
10. Creation of the Geneva Economic Development Commission.
Which is stacked with the Mayor’s friends and cronies who couldn’t fight their way out of an economic paper bag. Please tell me, exactly what does Burns ally and attorney Robert Mann bring to the table? And Patrick Neary can’t even run a restaurant. Please list just one one GEDC accomplishment.
11. Creation and adoption of Geneva’s Downtown Master Plan Planning Document.
Oh lord! It’s a plan that focuses on absurd issues like sight lines and pie in the sky development that will never happen. Even former Editor Rick Nagel said, “Geneva’s Downtown Master Plan is filled with wonderful ideas, most of which won’t ever happen.”
Though we spent a lot of time and money on it, the master plan is almost as worthless as Confederate money.
And the really sad thing is, Mayor Burn’s made this rebuttal so easy. Perhaps he’ll provide more of a challenge next time.