(Jim announced last night he is not running for reelection. Petitions are due 11/21 – info here: http://www.becvote.org/wordpress/)
Here’s the problem: The citizens feel like their government is stalking them like a famished predator.
They have good reasons: Amusement Tax, Utilities tax, Gas Tax, Sales Tax, Garbage fee increases, Liquor fee increases
More increases are planned because segregated Enterprise Funds don’t balance.
One day the City has a $7.5 Million structural deficit – 6 months later they have a $5 Million surplus.
Tax receipt information by month is no longer available.
The library is planning an expansion even though traffic keeps declining.
Sick Leave Buy Back checks keep getting written so pensions are spiked. All the City had to do to avoid massive penalties was write the check on the employee’s last day. Millions later ex-employees are living large at taxpayers expense.
Citizens have every right to think their government is out of touch with reality!
Then there is the Coliseum. The head guy for VenuWorks was just fired for misuse of a CITY card. Did anybody at the City ever check how John Butler used it? NOPE. I was told the Coliseum Fund wasn’t available under FOIA. It was, but I chose to file a lawsuit about concessions instead. I wrote about the problems for YEARS with no action taken by the Council or City.
The citizens see nobody caring while the Council lavishes David Hales with big raises. The State Police could be uncovering massive fraud, the numbers I received because of the lawsuit sure show problems. Yet audited information show taxpayers forking over money with no accountability. Below is what the auditors reported as additional money Bloomington paid to cover losses:
Prior year audits are not on the City website
2012 – 200,000 Page 6 http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=4650
2013 – 225,000 Page 6 http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=6077
2014 – 2,646,000 Page 6 http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=7481
2015 – 671,483 Page 6 http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=9338
2016 – year ended 4/30/16 is not available
We do know the City had to pay $299,999 for equipment and $550,000 to make the building ADA compliant.
How many roads and sewers could have been fixed instead?
Taxpayers see a City that only exists to take care of government employees and friends of government. Government has gold-plated insurance, lavish pensions, and salaries above what could be earned in the private sector.
Jim, you did a great job calling attention to this problem a few weeks ago. When you leave the Council nothing will change. This government exists for government employees, not citizens. Further discussions of cutting benefits won’t happen.
The agenda places time limits on discussions at Council meetings. The Open Meetings Act states public business is to be discussed openly. Instead aldermen lunch with Renner and Hales and the media has scheduled meetings to get their talking points right. Rarely do any aldermen represent the people who elect them, votes are predetermined. Most aldermen think votes should be unanimous, dissent isn’t allowed. The City bond rating remains reasonably high because they see a complacent Council willing to raise taxes anytime. Normal doesn’t have a triple A rating because their debt is low!
Citizens are fleeced under the “Quality of Life” banner. Quality of Life for citizens is their government not stealing their money and telling them what entertainment they need to participate in. This Council and previous ones thought the opposite.
Late happy birthday Jim. I bet Medicare will further open your eyes to the difference between government employees healthcare and what you will receive. You now have no reason not to stand up for citizens, I hope you chose to do so. The citizens wouldn’t mind paying aldermen more if they believed they worked for them. Just reading the ridiculous documentation for meetings takes hours. You are beat down with 3 meetings a month that are scripted to arrive at some predetermined goal. Evidently most of the aldermen like being insiders and happily comply.
Governing was never meant to be easy or clean. Spending other people’s money shouldn’t be a 10 minute discussion without controversy. Bloomington is turning into the State of Illinois. I hope your replacement is willing to fight for taxpayers. I hope in the last 6 months you are too.