to the editor:

On December 15th, I attended FEMA's public meeting in Collinsville. Like others at the hearing, the short question and answer time left me with more questions, than answers. FEMA answers seemed vague and confusing to those in the audience seeking to find real direction. I hoped that would not be the case since it is all about keeping and preserving good high paying union and white collar jobs in the region.

Estimates place the Metro East levee restoration between $450 and $500 million. Without a bailout from state or federal revenues (both are bankrupt), it appears that residents in Madison County will be called on to pay for the upgrade through either additional property taxes, or sales tax. The sales tax has been authorized in the Illinois state legislature and approved by the county boards, which impose a regional sales tax of .25 percent upon Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties for 25 years.

While this tax was to be in place of a property tax increase, the additional sales tax would come in the form of roughly $27 million from Collinsville, $24 million form Edwardsville and $13 million from Glen Carbon – a $64 million increase over the life of the tax. Unfortunately, the .25 percent sales tax increase will only pay for approximately $180 million in upgrades. Current elected officials are saying more taxes are needed.

How much more can families afford to pay in taxes? The state will not help, the federal government says no, and the taxpayers are tapped out. With no levee upgrades, does anyone believe that nationally known companies such as Granite City Steel, ConocoPhillips, Dial Warehousing or the businesses in the new Collinsville Crossing Center will go uninsured? What about the homes and properties below the bluffs? A levee breach would be an economic disaster to the region in more ways than one.

Everyone I talked to expressed concern about the fact that not one elected state representative or state senator attended this public hearing. Why? Was it because they persuaded Springfield to authorize the tax increase on the citizens of Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties?

Elected local state politicians must take this multifaceted problem head on and tell us how they are going to deal with it. They can not keep postponing a solution to this problem, because it impacts area jobs.

I think the residents of this region deserve elected officials who will provide a safety net to protect them from the unknown. I feel the citizens of this region deserve an elected public official who will provide a solution to this mess and work diligently to make the region safe for job creation.

Dwight Kay
Republican candidate for State Representative
112th District

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