by: Diane Benjamin
The most appalling revelation from the Bloomington budget discussion for me was this: Mayor Renner and City Manager David Hales have made no attempt in past year to see where the budget can be cut. Renner didn’t want to discuss golf at this meeting or any other big cuts, he expected the alderman to magically pulls millions out of the budget without touching any big issues – the new year starts May 1st. He knows that doesn’t leave time for big cuts, so he shut down any discussion about them. His idea of culture change is the big increase in spending, he expressed his support for the proposed budget.
Then there was Alderman Scott Black:
Remember when the government was shut down in DC and the Obama administration tried to inflict maximum pain on the American people by shutting down open air monuments? Alderman Scott Black must have been watching – he wants to do the same thing to the citizens of Bloomington. Start listening at 5:18:35 . The Council is discussing their positions on the new proposed taxes and spending on roads. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTvdmisMbPA
Scott’s idea of leadership is to make it hurt. That’s not leadership Scott! Nobody believes there is no place to cut. Citizens have budgets they must live within, they expect their government to do the same. Past Councils have put the city in this position, leadership is finding a way out. Funding a Coliseum, Pepsi Ice Center, BCPA, 3 golf courses, 2 swimming pools, numerous parks, and a zoo is not sustainable if they don’t generate enough money to fund themselves. Deferred maintenance and pension payments will eat the citizen’s wallets. Citizens don’t trust their government BECAUSE you are acting like masters instead of public servants.
Here’s the facts Council: Citizens will take anything they can get, they just don’t want to pay for it. Leadership and governing is knowing when to say no and using logic and common sense to justify your positions. Most taxpayers aren’t stupid, they know you don’t print money. Bloomington has been attempting to balance the budget for years without funding the essential business of Bloomington. Pensions, roads, sewers, and deferred maintenance will crush this and future budgets. It’s your job to SOLVE the problem, not defer expenses again and again. Start acting like grownups and tell the citizens Quality of Life has to be trimmed. Close the BCPA. Mayor Renner wanted millions – here it is Tari. Keep the 1/4% Sales tax for payments on the remodel, end the salaries, pensions, and other expenses. Bloomington can’t afford it. Be adults for change and level with the citizens.
Closing the BPCA is only the beginning. Privatize the zoo. It is un-affordable because of all the other Quality of Life item previous Council have approved. Next get rid of at least one golf course.
Mayor Renner gave a speech starting at 4:25. He firmly relayed the fact that costs go up. He neglected to realize that revenues go up too. The better the economy the more money the City rakes in. His job is to make the city conducive to business. All the “revenue enhancement” discussed on Saturday slam a lid on business. Tari – look at the State of Illinois. Taxes, taxes, taxes – people leaving, businesses moving out. Sit in on an economics course over at Wesleyan. Theorizing Political Science in a classroom isn’t real life.
Some people aren’t going to be happy. The others will respect you more for the truth, something they don’t hear much of. For once, fundamental transformation is sorely needed.
One more note. The new Alderman Joni Painter doesn’t want Bloomington to turn into Decatur. Decatur is a blue collar town that has made many bad decisions of their own, Bloomington isn’t even close to blue collar. Forsyth used to be just a speck on the map. Thanks to the bad management of Decatur, businesses went to Forsyth. It can happen to Bloomington too, but not because Quality of Life is cut Joni. Investment doesn’t happen where taxes crush it.