Judy Stearns position on the Bloomington Budget

Subject: My position on the budget page one
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2013 07:01:36 -0500

Since our budget workshop, I believe I have made it very clear that my position will be based on the public hearing which was held at our last meeting, public input I receive from calls, letters, emails, and so on, and finally, my own analysis of all of the above..  In addition, I submitted some budget questions, to which I received a final response in just the last few days.  I just resubmitted several of these questions for more specific answers.I take my fiduciary responsibility to the citizens of Bloomington very seriously and I will give that respect to my fellow Council members for their views on the budget.  While we have varying opinions, I do not suggest in any way that my views diminish any other views.

My budget position is based very simply on a broad look at where the city’s finances are heading and what the larger trends are.  Even more importantly, I take seriously the analysis of Fitch,  a professional rating service who can affect our bond rating, something we all agree is very important.

In February of 2013, Fitch said, “Pension funding levels are very low, with increased funding levels likely creating financial pressures in the future.”  In their credit profile on our city, they cite “Weak Pension Funding,”  They further state, ” The city participates in three pension plans, all of which are poorly funded.”  Finally, Fitch states in their narrative, “Fitch views these pension plans as a credit concern for the City and any material deterioration in funding levels could apply negative pressure to the rating.”

My analysis of our actual funding to the pensions shows that we seem to be doing exactly what Fitch warned against, specifically lowering the actual amount we are contributing to the funds.  As I said in alderman’s discussion at our last Council meeting, my look at levies shows a decline in the firemen’s pension contribution from 3,407,498. in 2011 to 2,908,472 –  2 years later in 2013.  The police pension funding similarly fell from 4,057,967  to 3,181,581 in the same time period.  The IMRF funding is also seriously underfunded.

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