Bloomington: Budget thoughts from last night

by:  Diane Benjamin

It was more than obvious the Bloomington City Council members weren’t listening to each other.  Mayor Renner didn’t want to hear about prioritizing spending.  The have a May1st deadline, no time to look at the big picture.  For another year the citizens will be funding Quality of Life while the actual job of City government, like staffing police officers, get pushed to the side.

Last October Mayor Renner and City Manger David Hales had a chance to do the right things for the citizens of Bloomington.  A two-day City Council retreat was held.  Instead of discussing priorities and how to realign city spending with items required by government and finding ways to eliminate other spending, the retreat focused on Culture Change.  It was never defined, the Council was just told they need to have David Hales back.

Now we know what Culture Change was.  $11,000,000 more spending and 17 new staff members.  It was a wasted 2 days.  Now Renner and Hales don’t want to discuss the big picture or evaluate Quality of Life spending as opposed to mandatory spending.  It’s much easier to cut a few officers and fire department training than decrease administrative staff, travel, and food expenses.

Watch the budget discussion here – it starts at 1:12:00

Alderman Fazzini wants to borrow another $45 million.  Think Chicago Rob, government shouldn’t finance required spending.  It’s called priorities.  Fazzini made a big point of not wanting to be part of a Council that keeps pushing funding pensions and maintenance of City property down the road.  How many budgets have you voted YES on ROB?  You know, the ones that didn’t fund pensions, roads, etc.

Dave Sage didn’t offer any new cuts to the budget as promised at the last meeting, he merely commented on those proposed by David Hales.  Maybe he met privately with Hales to compile the list, but he didn’t say.

Kevin Lower tried to speak to priorities, but Renner didn’t want to hear it.  They had a testy exchange.  See it at 2:10:00.  Renner is more interested in the May 1st deadline.  The retreat was the perfect time to discuss the priorities, a golden opportunity missed Mayor.

Judy Stearns offered a list of cuts including travel, food, consultants, and administrative staff.  Only Jim Fruin mentioned the money spent on consultants later.  Stearns had $3,000,000 in immediate cuts.  Did the rest of the Council listen?  Seems like they were only interested in Hales list.  Did they hear that General Fund spending is up by 20% in the last few years?  Watch at 2:15:49

The citizens of Bloomington need to be involved in the process.  If you want taxes raised, sit back and do nothing.  Hales and Renner are happy to keep giving citizens “Quality of Life” without prioritizing required spending.

Watch to entire presentation, then show up tonight for the first Townhall – Kevin Lower and Judy Stearns, 7:00 at The Launch Pad 315 East front.  Tomorrow Karen Schmidt, Scott Black, and David Sage will hold a Townhall at the Miller Park Pavillion – 7:00

The best option now is a continuing resolution to fund the City after May 1st.  DC does it, why not Bloomington?  Spending is out of control, it’s time for adults to have a discussion.  David Hales isn’t managing and Mayor Renner just wants a budget, details be damned.





2 thoughts on “Bloomington: Budget thoughts from last night

  1. is the launch pad free for these events or does the renting of thee facility come out of the city budget?

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