Peoria County Board Gets $24 Million Museum Question

By Tom McIntyre

July 15, 2010 Updated Nov 9, 2007 at 9:08 AM CDT

The Peoria County Board is being asked to come to the rescue of the Downtown Peoria Riverfront Museum.

And, if it's not a "last minute" request, it's certainly the last hour for the museum square complex as it's now planned.

This is the dream...a seven and a half acre combination of museum and Caterpillar visitor's center....but the reality is that after four years of planning...funding is a stumbling block.
The museum project is 24–million dollars short of goal.

"Why should the county board support the museum?
Good question."

Thursday night, Peoria County Board members were asked to make up the 24 million dollar shortfall.

"We've looked at a lot of museum—and none are without public funding," said Caterpillar Vice President Sid Banwart.

And, Banwart says, Caterpillar is already footing half the cost for the total project, so big yellow has done its share...and moreover...no museum, no Cat visitor's Center.

"And I want to reiterate, without an operating museum, there will be no Caterpillar Visitors Center in Peoria County."

Museum backers were hoping for Federal and State dollars.
That didn't happen.
They were hoping to get $100 million in New Market Tax Credits.
Whatever they get in tax credits, it will be significantly less...four –to–ten million.
And, they won't get any tax credits unless they can show full funding for the project...by the end of this year...meaning a 24 million dollar commitment by next month.

Jim Vergon is chairman of the Museum collaboration Group.
"Bottom line...what does a board vote next month mean?"
"Everything".

The funding request was sent to the County's Finance Committee.

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