Still WatersWhere They Stand,
  By the NumbersHow We Stack UpWhatís Up With That?


Commentaries posted do not necessarily represent the opinion of LDN.  Any opinions expressed are those of the writers.


A little Logan County history,
numbers and economy

Logan County population
for the last 100 years

2000 

31,183

1990 

30,798

1980 

31,802

1970 

33,538

1960 

33,656

1950 

30,671

1940 

29,438

1930 

28,863

1920 

29,562

1910 

30,216

1900 

28,680

Expenditures per capita
in our state

Illinois 

$8,992

Logan County 

$7,574

McLean County 

$10,406

Sangamon County 

$10,404

Cook County 

$8,199

[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

By Mike Fak

[APRIL 25, 2002]  Here is a real switch for you. Letís talk about Logan County, but you decide what the following information means rather than I.

I have taken a journey through the U.S. Census Bureau website and have gleaned some tidbits of information regarding us that I find rather informative. I will give this federal numbers crunch to you and let you decide what it means and more importantly what we need to do in the future.

The first group of statistics is the population numbers for the last 100 years (see chart).

As you can tell from the chart, Logan County has increased in population 10.5 percent since the 1900 census was conducted. The chart also shows we have been declining since our highest number of residents: 33,656 in 1960. Just as a marker for showing a relationship, McLean Countyís population increased 16.5 percent in the last decade, and tiny Menard County has a percentage increase of 11.8 for just the last decade.

Decide for yourself what this tells us, but it looks like Logan County is shrinking while counties around us are increasing in population.

I have to wonder if the hallmark number of Logan County residents in 1960 shows a relationship with the post-war baby boom and that the shrinking numbers ever since show we seem to have a knack at raising children who then leave the friendly confines of our county for whatever reason.

Like I said. I have to wonder. You decide for yourselves what the population numbers mean.

Another set of numbers that proves interesting is the expenditures per capita in our state. Logan County residents spend $7,574 per person compared with the state average of $8,992. In a nutshell that means that 31,183 people spent $44,217,494 less money than the average per person of all the counties in Illinois. That seems to be a great deal of sales dollars and thus sales tax that we didnít seem to realize, but again, you make the heads or tails of the numbers. Seniors at the town hall meeting stated that they spend a great deal less than younger residents, and since we have become top-heavy with seniors, that might be the reason.

 

[to top of second column in this commentary]

 

I do know that McLean County residents spend $10,406, and Sangamon County residents spent $10,404 per person, so it looks like it makes sense for retailers to locate in those counties rather than ours. I have to wonder what it is about those counties that cause them to fuel the retail marketplace more than we do. It canít just be that bigger cities with a higher cost of living create the expenses, since Cook County, home of Chicago, shows a per person spending habit of $8,199, which is a little ahead of us but well behind Sangamon and McLean residents.

McLean County does carry a higher salary per median household than we do. They come in at a quite respectable $46,615 per household compared with our $37,223 per family. Sangamon, however, came in at $40,851 compared with us, which means that every cent more than us that those people made went into retail purchases.

So what does all this tell us? Does it mean we are better savers than other counties? Does it mean we have fewer needs than others? Or does it mean our cost of living in other categories, compared with, say, Sangamon County residents, doesnít allow us the same discretionary income to buy retail items as we would want.

Springfield did make the list of the 100 top cities to live in again this year, you know. The list takes into account cost of housing, purchases, taxes and city services, among other things. Some among us state we should be content as a bedroom community. But who will place their bed here if it costs less and you can make more just 30 miles up or down the state?

Geez. If I havenít given you a sensory overload by now, you have a better mind than I do.

I will leave you all with one last statistic to ponder. Lincoln went from 15,418 population in 1990 to 15,369 in the year 2000, for a net loss of 49 residents. Mason City went from 2,323 residents in 1990 to 2,558 in the year 2000, for a gain of 235. Now what the heck does that mean?

Maybe we need to get away from numbers and just decide on our own terms what we need to do in this place we call home.

[Mike Fak]

 

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

mikefak@msn.com

Response to Fakís commentary:

ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com 


Nothing like urban legends
in a small town

[APRIL 3, 2002]  The talk of an industrial park on the outskirts of Lincoln has produced enough misinformation to write a book. Misinformation perceived as fact always seems to happen when a project isnít fully explained to the population, and the industrial park strategy is about as open to public information as the Manhattan project during World War II. The industrial park should have been brought to the public in a highly publicized forum as well as to the city council and county board. At least that is my humble opinion. When facts are not made readily accessible, individuals will find the need to create and disseminate their own, whether valid or not.

I will not be so bold as to try to tell all of you how to think about such an endeavor, but I will make an attempt at explaining the realities that I have been able to determine as factual regarding such a park. I will then leave to you the thought process of supporting or rejecting such a plan.

Legend 1 ó The price of the proposed park is too expensive

After the Courier mistakenly stated acreage at $18,000 per acre and placed the retraction on a subsequent day in the middle of the paper, many still do not realize the price is $10,700 per acre. Some of course, state that the price is too high for $3,000-per-acre farmland, but they are not basing that idea on the reality of what location does to a price. Location creates price. The more appealing a location, the higher the price. Place the same house in the most appealing location in Lincoln and then the poorest, and tell me there isnít a remarkable difference in price.

Acreage adjacent to any city commands a higher price tag. The cost of running a sewer line, an electrical service and expanding roads a thousand feet rather than several miles makes the land more valuable. In this case purchasing land farther away from the city for $3,000 per acre actually could cost millions more than buying adjacent land at $10,700 per acre.

Legend 2 ó Why donít we just promote the west end

The west end is continuing to grow. In the event you visited Lincoln 20 years ago and just stopped by this Easter weekend, you would find the change remarkable. Hotels, eateries, retailers dot the road toward the highway. This property, depending on when it was sold, cost these businesses between $15,000 and $25,000 per acre, by the way. The acreage also has been used commercially, not industrially, for a very simple reason. Industry does not want to build in a commercial-residential area. NIMBY attitude is prevalent throughout the United States, but it is as strong as anywhere in Lincoln. Do the residents of Westville subdivision want homes or a factory across the road from them? Do Zion and West Lincoln-Broadwell support a widget factory leaving work the same time their schools are let out?

Has anyone even asked them these questions? The reality is the last nine businesses in the manufacturing sector to visit Lincoln were not interested in the west side. They want to locate in an exclusive industrial complex where the protest of "not next to me" wonít rear its ugly head as they try to build. Perhaps they have read the papers regarding CILAs and apartment complexes enough to know that Lincoln has a track record of wanting growth just so long as it is not in their neighborhood.

I would hope the west end receives all the support and assistance from the county and city to continue to expand and grow, but the facts are the west end is commercial and has no interest to the nationís industrial base. At least not yet, that is. It always does take just one heavy hitter whoís interested to make all the rules go away.

 

[to top of second column in this commentary]

Legend 3 ó Property taxes will explode if an industrial park is created

I have talked to more than half the city and county officials, and not one of them has even suggested this cost be borne with higher property taxes. A development could be created through bonds, loans and many other possibilities. A program to assist the west end developers could also be included so that expansion could be a twofold project. New factories could induce new retailers as well as homes. After decades of nothing, why not jump into all of this with both economic feet? 

Legend 4 ó Now is the not the time to gamble on an industrial park

Spending money is never easy when the future is uncertain. How many of us when younger purchased a home? Did we say, letís wait until we can write a check or did we have enough faith in ourselves to say: "Now is the time to buy this house. The future payments will be borne on the promise of tomorrow." Many of us years later are glad we took that gamble. We have something now that is of a daily benefit to our lives because we took the shot when things werenít guaranteed. I also have to ask how well off we would be right now if two decades ago, when the same set of circumstances was made available to this community, we had gone ahead with such a project rather than just write it off as "not now with the way things are."

I hope all of you think about the industrial park proposal. I hope you will ask yourselves if it is not in our best interests to include a program for the west end as well, plus undertake a sincere effort at expanding tourism into the mix. The economics of Logan County are not very good. A principal reason is because we have never had enough faith in ourselves to gamble on growing. Instead we have retracted to the point that we are the same size as we were in the 1890 census. In the event that is what you want ó a small town stumbling to remain status quo ó you have that. In the event you believe we need to shift the tax burden from a few to many, we need to act.

Yeah, I know. I wasnít very objective in my opinions. My facts, however, are the truth. We either need to have enough faith in ourselves to give this thing a fair shot or we need to just let things spiral into an economic quagmire. I can live with the latter if thatís what you want. I donít have that many years left, and my child will seek opportunities in other cities. Since most of you can say the same thing, what does that tell all of us?

[Mike Fak]

 

Reply to Fak (not for publication):

mikefak@msn.com

Response to Fakís commentary:

ldneditor@lincolndailynews.com 


By the Numbers


How We Stack Up

This feature of the Lincoln Daily News compares Lincoln and Logan County to similar cities and counties on a variety of issues in a succinct manner, using charts and graphs for illustration.

Racial makeup of selected Illinois counties

 



Whatís Up With That?

 

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