Back in July, the Rock Island County Board voted to turn over the courthouse to the Public Building Commission, or PBC, to be demolished. Some of the board members cited the outcry of “don’t raise my taxes” to justify their vote. Your voices now need to be heard again: “Don’t waste my taxes.”
What is the downside to working with developers who want to invest in the courthouse? They are stepping up now because a citizens group made an eleventh-hour effort to reach out and publicize details about the courthouse.
Neither the county board nor the PBC made that effort at any point in this process. In addition, new state tax credits and pending downtown historic district improved the economic attractiveness of a restoration of the courthouse.
Not only would adaptive reuse save an irreplaceable landmark in downtown Rock Island but it would bring jobs and investment. It would bring additional, much needed, property tax revenue into the community. A green space doesn't decrease our tax burden. The $1.6 million “extra” the PBC has on hand for demolition could be returned to the taxpayers by reducing the bond debt, eliminating the 30 years of taxpayer-funded interest payments on that portion of the bonds.
You don’t want your tax dollars wasted. Ask your county representatives to work with the PBC and qualified investors, delaying the demolition of the courthouse so that all involved can work on a plan that won’t end up costing us in lost opportunity. Don’t let your elected representatives defer to the un-elected, unaccountable PBC on this.