If you like your roads, you can keep your roads

By:  Diane Benjamin

Back in 2012 the City Council passed an Action Plan:  http://www.cityblm.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=4445  See page 10

What this means to you as a citizen

  • Reliable utility services necessary for daily life
  • Efficient traffic flow throughout the city
  • Smooth rides on quality, well-maintained streets
  • Customer-friendly, easily accessible city facilities and buildings
  • City investing in the future of the community

Objectives

  • Better quality roads and sidewalks
  • Quality water for the long term
  • Functional, well-maintained sewer collection system
  • Well-designed, well-maintained City facilities emphasizing productivity and customer service
  • Investing in the City’s future through a realistic, funded capital improvement program

From the 2016 Budget – Book 1 – page 31

http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=8224

Strategic Plan

  • Goal 1: Financially Sound City Providing Quality Basic Service
  • Goal 2: Upgrade City Infrastructure and Facilities
  • Goal 3: Grow the Local Economy
  • Goal 4: Strong Neighborhoods
  • Goal 5: Prosperous Downtown Bloomington
  • Goal 6: Great Place to Live-Livable, Sustainable City

City staff spent many hours developing the original Action Plan.  City staff spent many hours developing the 2016 budget.  Both stressed the importance of good roads.  So how much money is proposed to be spent on roads?  Remember, the ONLY money spent on roads last year was borrowed:  $10,000,000.

From the 2016 Budget – Book 1 – Page 38

http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=8224

Draft Street Master Plan to be 50% complete by April 30, 2015.

Present Draft Street Master Plan to Council in FY 2016 – (1) funding plan based on the Bloomington Local Motor Fuel Tax ($.04/gallon = approx $1 million/yr), City’s allocation of the State MFT ($.185/gal = approx $2 million/yr), general tax revenue

See page 106:

General Fund transfer to Capital Improvement $ 2,400,000 Local Motor Fuel Tax for resurfacing

The $2,400,000 is probably the $1 million they expect to receive and what has been received since the tax began, but then government doesn’t clearly state what they mean.  Maybe part is what is referred to above as general tax revenue.

The planned spending on roads mostly comes from Motor Fuel Taxes – the local part didn’t exist before the Council passed it last year.  The local and State taxes only amount to an estimated $3,000,000.  I looks like the City found another $1,400,000 – making the total maybe 4,400,000.  I’m sure budget meetings will clarify exactly how much spending is planned, but it’s not close to what was spent last year.

$10 Million didn’t fix many streets last year.  $3 – $4 + Million will fix a lot less.

A reader had a vehicle damaged after her son hit a pothole in Bloomington.  

She requested information from the City for repairs.  The response below came from the City’s Claim’s Adjuster:

From: Betty McCain [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Monday, February 16, 2015 10:07 AM
To:  Redacted
Subject: RE: Pothole Vehicle Damage Policy

.

I investigate each and every pothole damage claim file filed. There is no automatic payment just because you hit a pothole on a City owned/maintained street.If the City has prior notice in their database that the pothole in question had already been reported, then I look to see when it was reported to the City.  The City by ordinance is allowed a reasonable period of time in which to repair the pothole once the pothole has been reported to them.  Each claim file stands on its own merits and there is no cookie-cutter handling of these type claims.  If the City had no prior constructive notice in their database that the pothole was reported and/or existed, they cannot be held legally responsible for any damage sustained after hitting said pothole.

I trust this answers your question.

Betty

Betty McCain SCLA – Senior Claims Adjuster

PO Box 291327 – Nashville TN  37229

Office phone: (309) 434-2382    Office fax: (309) 434-2962

[email protected]    www.ascrisk.com

________________________________________________

 Point 1:

Report potholes using this email address:  [email protected]

Point 2:

Tell your Alderman and the Mayor to stop wasting staff time and tax dollars creating Master Plans.  They are a meaningless and a waste of money.

Point 3:

Downtown is listed as goal #5 on both the 2012 plan and the 2016 budget.  Ask your Alderman and Mayor why #5 is prioritized over infrastructure.

8 thoughts on “If you like your roads, you can keep your roads

  1. One of the few things I agree with you about is that we need to spend more money on roads and other infrastructure. (I also agree that the Coliseum was a bad idea and a boondoggle, and that we would be better able to afford some of the necessities if it had never been approved.) But where do you think we should get the money to pay for road repairs? It’s easy to say we should cut unnecessary expenditures, but what specifically should we cut? Would those cuts actually pay for all the repairs and upgrades we need to make? And furthermore, if the city stops making plans, how is it going to decide which problems need to be fixed first and how much it will cost? You can’t go in willy-nilly without some sort of plan.

    I haven’t been reading this blog for its entire run, so it’s possible you’ve given answers to these questions somewhere else, but I’m not seeing them here. I know you’ve proposed some specific cuts, but as far as I can tell they don’t add up to $10 million a year (and we probably need more to fix our infrastructure, as you’ve suggested). So I ask, hopefully respectfully, how specifically you propose to spend more on infrastructure without raising taxes.

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    1. Start by cancelling ALL consultants. $60,000 a year to DC, another $116,000 was approved at the last meeting. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I think $750,000 is planned for lighting downtown – it might be a little higher. The City doesn’t need a communication director – that would save another $100,000. That’s just with 2 minutes of thought. There is a lot of low hanging fruit to cut – the City just doesn’t want to.

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      1. Thats a good start–I don’t necessarily agree that we should cancel ALL consultant studies, because I assume the city saves some money by not having full time staff in all of the areas it uses consultants for, but I agree that the city spends too much on studies, especially given that it doesn’t follow through on most I’d the studies it commissions. Has anyone ever put together an alternative budget proposal that actually finds $10 million without raising taxes?

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  2. I do remember that. Still, I don’t recall her coming up with that kind of money (to be fair, I don’t think she intended to; I think she was doing what you just did, coming up with a few minor cuts off the top of her head). As I recall, Renner’s primary objection was that she was raising those objections too late in the game to consider them carefully, though I’m sure he also disagreed with their content for the most part. I don’t know whether she had already tried to propose the same cuts earlier, so perhaps that was an unfair objection on his part.

    Let’s set aside for a moment the question of whether Renner is amenable to cuts. That’s an important question, but not the one I’m asking right now. I’m just wondering whether anyone has taken the time to systematically go through the whole budget and find enough spending cuts to spend the amount of money you and I would like to see spent on infrastructure. I understand that that would be time-consuming and am not necessarily saying that you, as a private citizen, need to be the one to do it. I’m just asking if you know of any efforts to do that and could point me in that direction. I have to think that someone has tried, and if not someone should. I think most people would agree that the budget DOES contain some unnecessary expenditures, even if we disagree on what they are and how much of the budget they account for. But if no one can name $10 million per year (or whatever number is actually necessary) in cuts, it seems to me that either taxes or fees have to go up or we have to just live with our crappy infrastructure.

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    1. Stearns and Lower held a Town Hall where they distributed tons of data for public comment. What can you live without – what can’t you live without. This was well before Tari’s attack on her. They hold all day budget sessions, they are nothing more than indoctrination and get along activities to convince Council people there are no alternatives. Seven always fall for it. Tari promised last year the budget would be discussed all year. Instead IIT came in the priority based budgeting, they held public meetings, and then ignored the citizens.

      Short answer – yes. Stearns and Lower did their job and presented alternatives. Nobody listened or gave them time to speak.

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  3. Well Dunbar here you go. The Renner game is to limit input by moving quick. Oh the horror of spending time on anything, “his highness” knows whats best. Although I did hear the man say one time and I do quote, “I don’t know why anyone would trust an elected official.” which in my book represents the most honest statement the man has made since being mayor.

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