Bloomington Priorities: We need more money

By:  Diane Benjamin

From 4/28/14 City Council meeting:

Item 10 E. Discussion of FY 2016 Budget Priorities.

Motion by Alderman Fazzini, seconded by Alderman Stearns to lay this item over until the Council’s May 12, 2014 meeting.

The April 28th meeting was where the budget was finally approved with tax increases.  Renner promptly started reading his attack on Alderwoman Stearns, which led to a prompt adjournment.  Details here:

The agenda for May 12th has 25 min budget discussions.

The promised year-long budget discussions never materialized.  Instead the City relied on free help, but Priority Based Budgeting was evidently dropped by the Illinois Institute of Technology because the only priority set forth by Hales, Renner, and Department Heads is “We can’t sustain this level of staffing and spending”.

The council will once again play no role in creating a budget.  The concerns raised by citizens through public comment and citizen summits will play no role.

Meanwhile, you have:

$74,000,000 of debt

$7,700,000 in compensated absences

$49,000,000 in unfunded police pensions

$37,000,000 in unfunded fire pensions

$12,600,000 in medical liability

$15,400,000 in IMRF unfunded pensions

$110,000,000 in infrastructure needs.

(All the above was reported at the budget meeting Saturday)

Another slide presented by Patti Lynn Silva showed $350,000,000 in infrastructure needs.

Critical financial decisions are being kicked down the road again. 

No road work is in the budget except with money generated through the new Motor Fuel tax passed last year.

Both pools are well beyond their useful life.

Both the police and fire departments can’t replace people leaving or retiring fast enough.  (Maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to retire at 50!  Of course, they will never agree to change that policy)

Renner and Hales claim it’s too late to discuss specifics now.  It’s the same tactic used for years to keep the Council from having any input.

Seven things needed right now:

1)  A complete inventory of properties owned by the City and the reason unused properties haven’t been sold.

2)  A complete list of City vehicles and the reason for each.  Reveal the policy for how often they are replaced.

3)  Cancel all consulting contracts and ban new ones for at least a year.

4)  Ban any item that increases the city workload.  No new initiatives – complete what the City is doing now.

5)  Cancel the lighting/streets/benches plan for downtown.

6)  Cancel upgrades to the Coliseum, they aren’t contractual since the contract doesn’t really exist.  The Coliseum is bleeding taxpayer money and there is no transparency to ensure the City is getting their fair share.

7)  The Sugar Creek Packing Plant property MUST be off the table.  Buying another rundown property to rehab it with non-existent money is suicide for taxpayers.

Renner and Hales need millions to balance the budget.  They would prefer more revenue (taxes).  The above provides millions.

Of course, they aren’t listening and the Council doesn’t have a say – by design.

Congrats Bloomington!  The dog and pony show is a re-play of last year.  You even got a veto threat Saturday.



7 thoughts on “Bloomington Priorities: We need more money

  1. This debt is the legacy of our city manager David Hales and do nothing council of potted plants. They are miserable failures of fiscal responsibility. Maybe Tom Hamilton wasn’t so bad.


      1. Yeah Hamilton made some real boondoggles but I predict Hales to be worse, especially if the April 7th election fails us. Hales was supposed to fix the Hamilton era but so far, not so good.


  2. I think eventually State Farm will give this city the middle finger and move someplace else. Maybe not everything but a good part of the company. The rumors I hear they keep moving jobs down south.

    What business would stay here with a city like this milking even more from everyone.

    The streets are nothing to speak of and getting worse.

    I saw a recent article in the bird cage lining newspaper talking about growth here is down. When are they going to smell the coffee so to speak?

    I can’t remember myself, did Bloomington always have a mayor and city manager? I can never understand myself why that form of government is even allowed.


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