The Budget story the media missed

by:  Diane Benjamin

Besides calling Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner’s personal attack on Alderwoman Stearns a “heated discussion”, the media completely ignored what Renner’s veto threat meant for the City.  Tari Renner was willing to put public safety at risk just to get a Utility Tax.  Remember, any discussion of budget cuts instead of tax increases were off the table, even Alderwoman Schmidt made that comment Monday night.

Mayor Renner sent this email to all the Aldermen:  I added the red 

——– Original message ——–
From: Tari Renner
Date:04/24/2014 1:40 PM (GMT-06:00)
To: endeavor1812
Cc: citycouncil
Subject: Re: Budget vote

Yes! The votes are all legal.  And, my veto power is a line-item veto (that less than 2% of Mayors  have actually).  So, the veto (if necessary) will be very surgical.  There was confusion over the public utility tax vote (1.25% increase

earmarked for pensions) since it was in pieces.  That was confusing to all of us and the agenda for that evening was
not approved in that form. Anyway, our first order of business on Monday will be to vote up or down on the
same proposal but as a single ordinance (not three) – a 1.25% increase in public utility taxes earmarked for police and fire pensions.
If that fails, I will present a veto of 1.2 million dollars in cuts (the ‘restored’ cuts). The veto will not give us an earmarked revenue source for pensions but it will prevent us from spending over a million dollars of our reserves (savings).
If the public utility tax passes, we will not have a veto or an override vote.
Regardless, after the current budget votes are completed, we will have a 30 minute conversation about the continuing budget debate and priorities as we move forward toward FY 2016.  The main thing is for us to keep working at this and to do our homework properly (bad budgetary data or proposals are not helpful at all). Our proposals need to be credible and realistic! Otherwise, we are harming the process and progress toward a responsible budget.
Renner was willing to make $1.2 million of cuts with a veto.  What was in the $1.2 million?  Actually the number was almost $1.7 million, unless he was going to pick the items himself to veto.  He never said in public what he intended to do.   Was picking cuts even legal?  There is a $500,000 difference here.
But it gets worse.  The Council had a choice:  either raise Utility Taxes or the Mayor acts alone.  The Public Safety items highlighted below total more than the $500,000, and that doesn’t include Police and Fire Professional Development.  
So who was really willing to jeopardize public safety?  
Is a vote taken under a threat by the Mayor even legal?  Eventually, the potted plants don’t care.

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