By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Kyle Moore believes Quincy can do a better job of planning for the future, and the first step would be ending the Democrats' 28-year hold on the mayor's office.
The first-term alderman is attempting to become the city's first Republican mayor since C. David Nuessen finished his second term in 1985. Moore is challenging two-term incumbent John Spring in the April 9 municipal election.
"I don't believe we are doing the things to set up our community for long-term success — not only in our city's financial situation, but in bringing good-paying jobs to Quincy," Moore said. "We need to begin the discussion on how do we make ourselves better 20 and 30 years for now."
Most of Moore's platform has focused on long-term goals, including a city services measurement tool called "the Quincy Scorecard," a five-year strategic budgeting plan to help direct city spending and a long-term look at infrastructure improvements.
"We are not doing the things that are necessary to sustain long-term prosperity," he said.
"We have a great banking community, which loans money to people who are willing to take a risk. We have great people here, an educated and skilled workforce, and a great transportation system. We have rail, we have air, we have river, and we have highways.
"I think when people are looking to locate a business to a new community, when they come to Quincy, they will want to move here."
However, he doesn't believe the city is doing enough to attract new business.
"We have to get their attention," Moore said. "We have to go out and knock on their doors with open arms and say,'Come to Quincy. We want to be a partner in your success.' "
Moore last week outlined a proposal that would offer tax incentives to existing businesses in the city's enterprise zone if they convince one of their suppliers to locate here. He says that will help Quincy set itself apart from other Illinois communities and be an attractive tool for local businesses.
He also has proposed setting aside $15,000 from the city's two downtown tax increment financing district to be used for a rental assistance program for new, small downtown businesses.
"City government should not be in the business of creating jobs," he said. "That's not our job, but it is our job to be a partner in economic development and helping our businesses grow and employ more people in our community."
Moore says while the unemployment rate locally has dropped, his numbers show an additional 500 people were unemployed in December 2012 than in December 2005 — largely the result of the recession.
In light of his focus on job creation, Moore has been forced to defend his decision last year to vote to reduce funding for the Great River Economic Development Foundation, which serves as the economic arm for both the city and Adams County.
Moore says he didn't want to reduce the city's annual contribution to GREDF, but that measure was part of a larger budget plan crafted by other Republican aldermen to reduce the city's budget by $500,000.
"If (the GREDF funding) was set aside separately, I wouldn't have voted for (the reduction), but the fact of the matter is we're chosen to govern," Moore said. "We can't pick a proposal apart and not vote for it just because we don't like one tiny aspect of it."
Moore levels his most intense criticism of Spring on the city's unsuccessful hydroelectric project.
The city had spent more than $5 million before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission abruptly dismissed the city's preliminary permit and licensing application for Lock and Dam 21 in February 2011.
The project predated Moore's tenure on the City Council. He was one of two aldermen who from 2009-11 consisted voted against hydroelectric measures, which were nearly all approved in overwhelming fashion by the council since the project began in 2006.
"I've been a vocal critic of that since we bonded $6.6 million (to help pay for the project in 2009)," Moore said. "It was a choice of John Spring to put 100 percent of the risk of that bonding on the taxpayer. We could have chosen a different route. We didn't.
"An alderman cannot lead a discussion as complex as the hydropower discussion. The administration brought this to the aldermen. They changed the scope three or four times. They were the ones who were the champion of this. They were the ones leading the charge."
Moore offered the first plan to repay the hydropower debt. It involved using the unspent portion of the bond money, and then spreading the remaining payments over a 10-year period. Spring claims that would have cost taxpayers an additional $700,000 in interest payments. The council rejected it in favor of the administration's payback plan.
"I don't specialize in municipal debt," Moore said. "I don't have all the answers, but I wanted to start the discussion on what I learned."
Moore said the city needs to begin to free itself from borrowing money without a source to pay it back. He cites the loan the city took out to buy two new fire trucks for $1 million in 2009.
"The mayor has said that I didn't care about public safety, because I voted against fire trucks," he said. "The reason I voted against it was because we borrowed money for it, and at the time, there was no (revenue stream) to pay off the debt."
Moore promises, if elected, to be open with the community. He plans to have two town hall public meetings a year, tailored after the events he and fellow 3rd Ward Alderman Paul Havermale have conducted.
He says that kind of approach may have built sentiment both on the council and in the public to favor a proposed intermodal transportation center in 2010. The city had $13 million available for the project — $6 million from the state and $7 million from the federal government — to help build a facility that would have served as a hub for Amtrak, Quincy Transit Lines, Trailways buses and other transportation businesses.
Instead, the council pulled $35,000 earmarked for a feasibility study, which stalled the project.
Moore was among the aldermen who voted against the study.
He said the administration failed to engage the community or the council to gather input on what they thought about the proposed center.
"Instead, they chose private meetings and secret discussions on a plan that they didn't bother to take before the City Council first," he said.
For Moore to support the project, he said he would have to get input from the community on how they would like to see the current Amtrak station improved, similar to what he wants to do to create a infrastructure plan. He would like to create blue ribbon panels — consisting of business and community leaders — to assist with projects of that scope.
Moore also has had to defend his vote against funding bonds to help pay for renovations and improvements to the Quincy Public Library in 2009. The funding measure passed, and Moore's family company — Moore's Floors — won a $300,000 flooring contract.
"I didn't want them to take on any more debt when people were being laid off and our economy was bad," Moore said.
Moore said his company received the flooring contract because it submitted the lowest competitive bid.
"If I was in it for economic gain, wouldn't I have voted on it to make it pass?" he said of the library measure.
If elected, Moore says he will not serve more than two terms.
"I think after that, I think I will probably have done the best that I can for the citizens of Quincy, and it would be time for new leadership," he said.