Budget: Problems Identified

By:  Diane Benjamin

What did Bloomington citizens tell their elected officials?  Fix the roads and no spending public money on a downtown hotel.  The Mayor and Council heard the same mantra over and over, but did they listen?  Obviously not.

Stay with me here . . .

I get the same emails from ICMA – International City Mangers Assoc – the City gets.   The daily emails contain a mix of what businesses and governments do around the world.  It’s no wonder Tari thinks he is running a corporation, ICMA thinks local government is a business too.

This week a link was included to a budget “best practices” article.  It was actually pretty good.  I hope David Sage and Tari’s budget committee get a copy.  Below is a quote that sums up why Bloomington is once again facing financial problems:

Budgets are local governments’ most important documents.

Budgets matter. They signal a municipality’s policies and civic priorities. The budget is where the rubber meets the road; it shows how a community will spend and invest. A budget reflects what matters most to a community; changes in a budget from one year to the next show the direction in which a community wants to head. For example, a city investing more in its police is placing a higher priority in public safety.

Citizens want essential services, the Bloomington budget says we wants to entertain you and we can control economic activity. 

Citizens are told what matters most – downtown.

Don’t get lost – keep reading!

At the council meeting on June 8th, this item was on the consent agenda (meaning approve it, no discussion necessary):

E. Consideration of Approving Payment for Street Lighting electrical energy and fixture rental charges through a Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) General Maintenance program. (Recommend that the MFT Resolution and associated estimate of costs for a MFT General Maintenance Street Lighting FY2016 program (16-00000-00-GM) for Street Lighting System electrical energy and fixture rental charges be approved and the Mayor and City Clerk be authorized to execute the necessary documents.)

The cost was $500,000.

Have you heard calls to raise the gas tax?

Government produces a sob story like “the gas tax hasn’t been raised in years”.  The infrastructure will never get fixed without more money.  You need to pay for good roads.

Somebody on the Council asked a question about this item, and the City answered:  http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=8680

Item No. 7E:

Was MFT street lighting $500,000 shown in adopted budget? Yes.

What will be impact to street resurfacing? None. We are using local Motor Fuel Tax for resurfacing. It will impact larger road projects for which we use the state MFT funds. The impact will be delays in being able to fully fund projects sooner than later.

Of course it was approved, now let that sink in.

We all pay local, state, and federal gas taxes.  We are told it funds the roads.  We are also told it’s not enough money to fix the roads.

The Bloomington City Council just diverted your gas tax money, that supposedly funds roads, to lighting.

2 problems identified:

  • What matters most to citizens doesn’t matter the most to the City
  • Your roads aren’t fixed because the money taken from you for roads isn’t being used on roads.

Think the gas tax scam is just local?  Got any other good jokes?

On June 24th there is a debate between the candidates to replace Aaron Schock.  Darin LaHood’s dad is out campaigning to raise the gas tax.  Darin hasn’t answered whether he supports raising it or not.

Somebody needs to ask!

City priorities must match the priorities of citizens.  Instead, you are being told your priorities are wrong.

9 thoughts on “Budget: Problems Identified

  1. I’ve always said on the federal level if we took 10% of what was sent outside this country for every type of aid possible for roads we wouldn’t have nearly the infrastructure problems. Some of those interstates were built way back in the 60’s and 70’s and are falling apart. So wah now they are crying for more gas taxes. How about slapping a tax on electric and hybrid cars too. Why should they get a free fare and use the roads.

    Local, state, federal, they all have used these funds like some slush fund diverting it to other areas. Look at the federal level and how they are sucking Social Security dry.

    Anyone seen Aaron Schock lately? I heard he is no where to be found. Tuesday when I was down at Springfield his downtown office was open. I saw someone sitting inside and no it wasn’t him. Pay up dude for the election!

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    1. So you want to encourage the taxing authorities by suggesting they collect more taxes on electric and hybrid cars? Last thing they need is more support to do more harm.

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      1. On principle, no. BUT. If the vast majority of the owners of electric/hybrid cars vote liberal, maybe it’s time to make them feel the pinch of their vote.

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  2. For those of you that have always wondered what goes on at those meetings, I had a vision of what one of their programs looked like. Feel free to add.

    ICMA – Table of Contents
    * How to screw the taxpayers.
    * How to rip off the tax payers.
    * How to use smoke and mirrors effectively.
    * Kissing babies.
    * How to deceive the public with a straight face.
    * How to deceive the public with no face.
    * Indirect payoffs.
    * How to lie and act innocent.
    * How to direct attention away from you.
    * (Ab)using the media.
    * How to lie some more.
    * Never accepting blame.
    * Always taking credit.

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