By: Diane Benjamin
The Bloomington City Council meeting last night was conducted without the mayor and without any accusations against citizens like “crazy”, “nasty”, and “small vocal minority”. Renner did hold another edition of his media blitz earlier in the day, but Karen Schmidt only announced he wasn’t there. According to media reports of the blitz, Renner claimed national politics have affected his job. Sort of correct Tari, the Hillary supporters are suffering a lot. 4,650 people voted against you in April Tari. Instead of calling them names, maybe you should ask them why.
Tragically a teenager on a bike was recently hit and killed by a drunk driver. The Council approved narrowing lanes on E Washington and adding bike lanes. Maybe drunk drivers never drive on Washington, maybe not. The Fire Chief discussed response times without mentioning narrower lanes and dodging bikes will make response times using E Washington higher. When other roads are also narrowed so bikes have their own lane, what is that going to do to your response times Chief? When response times do go up, is anybody going to blame the lanes or just demand another station?
The Fire Chief mentioned the need for more personnel. He also wants a new station, of course no mention of the one that has never been used. He also discussed cooperation with Normal. How about returning to MetCom folks? How can the two cities work together when 911 is handled separately? Common sense anyone? At least it was mentioned last night, especially the delays when calls go to the wrong dispatch center. Given past history, I expect the Council to do nothing that might save money in the long run.
Mattoon is stopping ambulance service because they can’t afford the expense and pensions. Why is ambulance service provided by government? The private sector can’t do it? http://jg-tc.com/news/local/council-votes-to-drop-city-ambulance-service/article_01963d44-7282-5e03-b693-750241332c59.html
You will be paying more for sanity sewer and storm water, maybe double or more in the next 5 years. Normal raised their rates, so Bloomington has to follow. Only Alderman Sage (around 1:56) mentioned that citizens plan cuts when they can’t afford to pay their bills while government only plans to tax more. The Bloomington taxpayers must like getting fleeced, they elected people more than willing to do it. User fees is the new City mantra. Use anything and you will pay more. No mention if that includes the library, entertainment, and recreation.
The City is looking at a $40 million bond for capital improvements. They have no way to pay it back, so that will also be a tax increase. Non-essential spending will continue. The arena will get an outside elevator, and the library will either build new or expand where they are. You could get an aquatics center! Only $300 million in projects over the next 5 years.
The theme of the meeting was NOT how can we serve the citizens essential needs without chasing them out of town with taxes. No specific cuts or privatization of services were discussed. Citizens are forced to pay the salaries and benefits of the most expensive people available. For the foreseeable future Bloomington will continue to decline because government employees receive gold-plated everything while the people paying their salaries are forced to cover their cost. Watch what salary and benefits the next City Manager receives. If changes don’t start at the top, lower level employees will feel cheated and the myriad of City unions will never agree to fiscal responsibility.
Alderman Mathy: Using Comcast raising rates is a really bad way to justify raising fees and taxes. People don’t have to stay with Comcast, they can do without or shop for cheaper rates elsewhere. In Bloomington, all they can do is move elsewhere! Also, using the price of milk wasn’t intelligent either. Have you seen the price of milk is now less that $1 a gallon? Does the cost of City services ever go down like milk has?
If citizens want efficient affordable government performing only the services government must perform, elect people who feel the same. City Manager David Hales claimed today’s problems took 50 years to create. He evidently is throwing Jesse Smart, Rich Buchanan, Tom Hamilton, and every past Council under the bus for their irresponsibility. Raise your hand if you agree!