Illinois is in such bad financial shape that when trash and power service is cut to three parks, our sorry state gets its tin cup and goes begging to other government units? That’s apparently what nearly happened recently with the Metro East Park and Recreation District.
The 2016 state budget impasse has prevented the state from paying for power and trash service at state parks. Local leaders were seeking a way to reopen Horseshoe Lake State Park after those service cuts led park administrators to decide to close it. The bills also were not paid for Ramsey Lake State Recreation Area and Carlyle Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area, but they have yet to close.
The plan to reopen Horseshoe Lake fell apart when the power company, Southwestern Electric Cooperative, refused to turn on power for one state facility unless the past due bills were paid for all three state parks that it serves. Our deadbeat state owes $829 to Southwestern for Horseshoe Lake, $1,765 for Ramsey Lake and $465 for Carlyle Lake.
You can’t blame Southwestern. You can’t expect the power company to turn on the power to your garage or barn if you aren’t also current on the house.
You can’t even blame Madison County Chairman Alan Dunstan or St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern for wanting to get the park open so local residents can fish and use Horseshoe Lake.
But you can blame state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, for having the nerve to ask a local government unit for a handout.
Haine should be in Springfield, sitting in the Senate chambers and refusing to leave until this state stops spending itself into an $11 billion hole with no fiscal controls. He should be there repealing some of the unfunded mandates he’s helped impose on local governments that drive up local property and sales taxes.
He should not be engineering work-arounds for our state’s dysfunction.
And the minnow should not be feeding the bass. Recreation district director Mike Buehlhorn: “If they’re not in our district, we can’t do anything with it,” Buehlhorn said. “Nor should we.”
Just that second sentence is correct, even for a state park within the district.