Transparency in Name Only

By:  Diane Benjamin

We know that Snyder Company has owed the City of Bloomington $562,194.78 since 1994.  We also know that an employee of Snyder is on Tari’s Budget Task Force. (https://blnnews.com/2015/07/23/bloomington-developer-gets-freebies/) Obviously, the City is looking out for the best interests of citizens!  I wonder if Dave Fedor, Chief Financial Officer for Snyder, will recommend collecting debts or a tax increase?

How much interest is the City charging Snyder?  Any?

Recently a citizen, Kevin Gerrard, filed a Freedom of Information request for amounts and names of any other developers who owe the City money.  He included some other items with this request.  Those were answered, this one was not.  Kevin did receive the following email:

From: Andrew Coffey <acoffey@cityblm.org>
To: Kevin Gerrard <>
Sent: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 3:58 PM
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information Act request

 

Hello,
The Engineering Dept. is requesting clarification on the wording ‘development fees’.  Please define what type of fees you are requesting.
Thanks,
Andrew Coffey
Support Staff IV
City Clerk’s Office
(309) 434-2240

 

See anything strange?

 

If a developer owes the City money, why is the Engineering Department involved?  Engineering is now in charge of collecting debts?  Engineering is in charge of tracking debt?

 

This should have been an easy request.  The Finance Department should have been able to look up past due accounts and promptly give the information to Kevin.

 

Since Lisa Madigan’s office doesn’t really care about local corruption, I urged Kevin to file a lawsuit against the City.  He decided to give Madigan a little time.  He has filed a Request for Review with her office:  Request For Review
Kevin is not going to wait long for her office to act.
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12 thoughts on “Transparency in Name Only

  1. So it’s ok for the city to use terms such as development fees but then when asked about development fees they act as though they don’t know what you are talking about. Typical stall tactic from those who wish to hide things. Typical reaction from an administration that is anything but transparent.

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    1. Too many administrators results in the information getting “lost.” The “buck” gets passed and the budget gets bloated. Typical government bureaucracy.

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      1. The City just won an award from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) for reporting data that supports transparency but can’t find the data requested by a concerned citizen. The requested information is not reported in the monthly or annual City Manager’s Report. Another waste of time and money for collection of data by staff, dues paid to the organization AND for publication of the reports at an annual cost of over $12,000.00.
        http://www.cityblm.org/index.aspx?page=18&recordid=2363&returnURL=/index.aspx

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  2. The wording for the information requested should be the same as that found in the Council Meeting packet–“development fees.” (Consent Agenda 7N. Tolling agreement for Land Trust CC-1)
    http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=6615
    The $562,194.78 are for what is called “tap-on” fees–fees paid by the developer to access City sewers and streets. The packet also refers to “additional work on a detention basin and sidewalks.” “There are other ‘punch list’ items that are covered by this agreement that have not yet been estimated.” Code items are part of a “punch list” which need to be completed and inspected by the Engineering Department. The packet item was prepared by Jim Karch, Director of Public Works. It is possible that the documents are being held as part of the Tolling Agreement.
    This is an explanation, not an excuse. The financial information should be on file with the Finance Department. There should be records of invoices sent to the developer for payment and citations for non-compliance with ordinances.

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      1. Donna, I will be personally filing suit in McLean County Court but I sure could use your help in the form of knowledge on more of the specifics when we get to that point. would you be willing to assist? I will be picking up 100% of the cost of the lawsuit. If so, Diane can provide you with my email address so we can touch base. Besides Snyder, I just wonder what else they are hiding!!

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      2. Yes, Kevin, I will give you what information I have. Most of what I’ve learned is from an issue with Brady Homes in my subdivision. The rest is from Council meeting packets–some items were “hidden” in the Consent Agendas.

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