Bloomington’s Hire-Back problem

By:  Diane Benjamin

Hire-Back is more correctly called overtime.  Last night’s Bloomington City Council Work Session lamented the costs to the City – $130,000 per year.

One thing ALWAYS left out is how much money the City of Bloomington makes from all those kids drinking every Thursday through Saturday!

Through October, the City collected almost 228,000 in video gaming, and $1,835,089 in Food and Beverage Taxes.  Add another $4.8 Million in Home Rule Sales tax.  How much does Bloomington earn from DUI’s and ordnance violations?  How much do the bar owners pay for a liquor license?

I wonder how much of that government income is generated Thursday-Saturday in downtown Bloomington?  Do the taxes and fees generated far outweigh the police overtime?  Chief Heffner did say a lot of tickets are never paid because the offender isn’t from Bloomington.   Maybe the police should try a little harder to find violators.  Checked with ISU and IWU?

How many hours of staff time has been spent for YEARS trying to solve the problem?.  Just hit Play:

Uptown Normal doesn’t have bars open until 2:00am.  Mayor Koos decided a long time ago he didn’t want a bunch of drunks wandering around his precious creation late at night.  He sent the kids to Bloomington.

Bloomington will never solve the problem because they WANT and NEED the revenue.  Therefore, downtown Bloomington will never be Uptown, it’s just office space during the day and a free-for-all on the weekends.  Nobody is going to stay in a downtown hotel with mobs of drunks blocking traffic while they search for the best bar scene that night.

Video of a typical night in downtown was included in Chief Heffner’s presentation – watch it around 35:00.  Mayor Renner said he has seen it much worse.

Can the Council quit pretending now they want to solve the downtown problem?  Will they quit wasting staff time creating presentations that do nothing?

Not with this bunch.

If Bloomington doesn’t want to pay the police overtime – close the bars at 10:00pm.

Um, that would create police calls all over the City as the kids drink elsewhere.

Maybe if Bloomington wants to stop college kids from drinking, they can hire babysitters for them.  Probably cheaper than the police.

One more idea:  Turn the Coliseum into an indoor bar mall!  Force all the 2:00am bar owners to move there.  Take out all the chairs and allow the bars to build their own site.   Charge a City admission fee to the mall, then let the kids wander from bar to bar in the safety of the mall!  All bars not in the mall must close by 10:00.

TWO problems FIXED – the Coliseum would actually make money!






15 thoughts on “Bloomington’s Hire-Back problem

  1. Here’s an idea that wasn’t proposed. Split the cost of BPD overtime for the bar scene with Normal and McLean County–another “B/N Advantage” opportunity.


  2. The Chief says they “mitigate a lot of things” read ARREST. Fact, look WHERE the video is taken! That and a few other spots have ALWAYS been “problem spots” was even 20 years ago, pull their license. What’s a matter Tari, no kahunas to do that? or you getting some campaign money? You’re on the liquor commission. The town as a WHOLE should NOT have to pay just because a few cops are out doing what they are SUPPOSED to do- “serve and protect” besides, where’s the video of that Troy guy who was a cop and falling down drunk about a year ago on N. Main st. ?? If they REALLY want to solve the problem-the ROOT problem they could, without charging the citizenry as a whole and they KNOW IT! ENOUGH!


  3. I like that idea of turning the coliseum into a mall with bars and food courts. There are bathrooms and public urination would be kept to a minimum. I like it.


    1. HAY!

      The Coliseum can become the Great Mead Hall of Bloomington!

      I only bring this up because some two-bit statist wannabe mentioned that Bloomington needed a cultural and social gathering place.


  4. I see one issue with the plan. Isn’t it government overreach to force the bar owners to relocate? Or is it more appropriate to give the owners a choice to relocate? If they don’t want to, then they can stay open to 10 PM and still sell food if they have the correct permits. If you are a bar only establishment, you need to close and clear out your establishment within a certain time period or risk fines. Not sure how easy that is to enforce in a city this size.

    Very creative suggestion. Would allow cops to focus on other crime. Plus the overtime issue can be curtailed. I think a lot of cities are going to a similar model to keep the drinking in one area. Problem is neighborhood bars may go out of business. Someone who has been the business a long time, that can be tough to deal with. Not to mention the people who drop by to have a drink and a chat. Some bars can’t move. Milwaukee will be dealing with this when their new basketball arena is built. No easy answer because some folks have grown tired of neighborhood bars while others go out of their way to avoid the trendy ones.


      1. Agreed. Making a big deal about $130,000.00/year for buy-back when there are more costly areas that are causing the deficit is foolish. The city has spent at least that much per year for several years paying the staff to make unlimited suggestions to the Council.

        The police chief doesn’t even know how much of the expenses for the police overtime is recouped from ordinance violation fees because the fees are deposited in some fund other than the Police fund.


      2. Put an area for bands to play and a large video board, you would have pretty good set-up. Just make the drinks affordable and the lemonade would taste even sweeter.


      3. Mikey, the Coliseum already has a video board and a place to set up bands, paid for by the city, as well as concessions for refreshments. It is still unsuccessful. I don’t think the Coliseum uses a private security company for their events.


      4. You are correct skunk. I am thinking like some of areas they have in Las Vegas and Kansas City. Or even like a big airport. Many bars can set-up shop and there are smaller common areas for socializing and bands to play on what is the floor area. They could locate the video board closer to the floor and play sports or whatnot on it. If they are leasing the video board now, downgrade to a smaller less expensive one. Have the ribbon boards show drink and bar ads. Lambeau field does it like that. Common areas would go away during events to much smaller ones in the concession corridors. But the usage of the facility could truly be 365 days a year.


  5. The 2% entrainment tax collected from all of the downtown bars already exceeds the $130,000 per year. There’s a good chance that it doubles or triples the $130K. Once again the mayor is spinning to take more money out of the peoples pockets. The devout yet closet Marxist that he is, Renner likes to redistribute the wealth.


    1. My bad, I meant the 2% food and beverage tax. As none of the downtown bars charge a price plus tax, the 2% is backed out of their product pricing. Their is no doubt in my mind that this 2% tax exceeds the $130K that council is wringing their hands over. On the flip side if these bars weren’t there the city would certainly miss that revenue. Then who is going to move in, another art gallery or drug store? Or maybe all of the bars could be turned into boutique mini-hotels.


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