Why are structural deficits okay?

By:  Diane Benjamin

Deficits are just fine with the Bloomington City Council  because they can tax you.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t afford it, they have needs – you have the money.

Only David Sage realized that last night – years late, but better late than never.  He voted against hiring the Downtown Bloomington Association staff because of the predicted return to structural deficits.  They aren’t so much structural as INTENDED through salary increases, lavish benefits, pensions costs, and pet projects.

Mboka Mwilambwe voted against it too, but only because he thought it needed more details before being implemented.

Jamie Mathy and Joni Painter recused themselves.  If the citizens in their Wards were against this spending, their voices were not represented last night.

A long line of DBA Board members spoke during Public Comment.  Some sang the praises of downtown and the DBA.  Others berated the City for not investing in downtown for decades.  Maybe they missed the Coliseum, the BCPA, that last TIF and the DBA funding long after they were told to be self-sufficient.

Funding for the DBA from taxpayers since 2011 (6 years) has been $90,000.  Somehow the DBA was doing great (according to some of the speakers) until right now (according to others).  $90,000 plus membership dues from existing downtown businesses isn’t enough to reach utopia.  Maybe most aren’t paying, we don’t know.

None of that matters now because Bloomington taxpayers are on the hook for two more employees, their benefits, and their pensions.  Downtown is going to be great!

Just hit PLAY to watch the Public Comments:



11 thoughts on “Why are structural deficits okay?

  1. The DBA burned through their $90K budget in the first quarter of the fiscal year and turned to the government for a bail out in the amount of $250K annually, in perpetuity.
    The $2.2 “borrowed” from the Employee Health Account, as listed in the FY 2018 budget, is earmarked for capital expenses for the Coliseum. In FY 2017, $2.2M was spent to purchase the N. Main property and the Frontier properties adjacent to the BCPA in the “Cultural District.
    The Downtown Task Force will be presenting their ” preliminary recommendations” very soon.
    When is enough enough?


    1. Also notice there was a budget amendment on the amount of $500K for the sidewalk and traffic barriers in front of the Coliseum.


      1. Catherine Dunlap. coordinator and Allison Bond, assistant for the Farmers’ Market are listed on the DBA website. I don’t think the packet named anyone but everyone knows Tricia Stiller’s role and mentioned her by name. The packet did say “absorb the employees of the DBA” so I’m guessing Catherine will be the assistant to Stiller. I wouldn’t be surprised if FY2019 added Allison as an additional employee.


  2. If they want people downtown, then they have to put things downtown that PEOPLE want – you know like us everyday common rabble people. Cutesy shops and art galleries are not going to cut it. Neither are high priced eateries where only the fancy folk go or the rabble once in a blue moon. The eating places down there except for Poblano Burrito all cater to mostly the downtown workers crowd and the “little plates, big bucks” people. There is Golden Dragon as well which gets at best “mixed” reviews – I need to do a walk around to be honest it’s been a while, but if I was driving through as an out of towner for some weird reason, nothing would catch my eye and make me go to the trouble of finding a parking space or dealing with the car park. The idea of a hotel down there is absurd, but Golden Dragon and Poblano Burrito would benefit since they would be the only places that would catch the eye of the visitor. “Uptown” has a built in almost captive audience with ISU right there, Bloomington, does not have that luxury, so they need to step up their game, and no we don’t need places for kids to look at sand sculptures or “discover” anything down there either. I do know over-priced little specialty shops that have little of interest to the “average” person, and yoga studios and “art” galleries are NOT going to revitalize the area. Something like a Family Dollar or Dollar General, maybe a REAL cafe with REAL food would be possible ideas. Look to the places that ARE surviving and do things in that mode, not copy them, just those SORT of places. I would be welcome to any sensible suggestions however if I were “Queen of the Forest” so to speak instead of being a stubborn “I know what is best for you” progressive/socialist. Also, simply having an “event” every few weeks is NOT going to do much for anyone or any business in the long haul – they need steady customers.


    1. Too much common sense, Ronin. I nearly fell off my chair when I read the packet describing the job description and the plans Tricia Stiller has for downtown–notice they are her plans.


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