Retreat: Part 2

By:  Diane Benjamin

The second session of the retreat was 3 hours and 33 minutes.  I DID NOT LISTEN TO EVERY SECOND!  I jumped around and listened to more than half.  It was obvious Quality of Life is not going to be in proposed cuts.  The discussion involved real spending for the first time in years.  Actual line items were discussed instead of “500 feet” reviews.   This session can be accessed from the same link as yesterday:

Jamie Mathy mentioned he has tried to hire out of the area people for his businesses.  He claims the first thing they ask is what is there to do in the area.  This Council will never understand it isn’t the job of residents to make life comfortable for people he wants to hire.  Same for State Farm and every other business who thinks it is.  People take jobs for the money and because it is something they want to do with their life.  Entertaining them at taxpayer expense because the City built an arena,  BPCA, Zoo, etc means entrepreneurs  can’t complete for alternatives.  All Quality of Life costs money, therefore it is not a benefit the people should be forced to pay.

David Hales tried to steer them away from spending for the Creativity Center.  It will never happen because the supporters think you are a piggy bank.

The facilitator was way smarter than the participants.  Some things she mentioned:

  • Council needs to set the tone – large deficits coming
  • Council needs a resolution stating a sense of urgency to employees, city needs their help, tough times are ahead, say it publicly
  • Staff can not keep doing things the same way they have always been done
  • Department heads need to do more to create efficiency opportunities
  • Mandated programs don’t have to be perfect, allow better use of talented people
  • Council needs to understand Bloomington comes first, then taking care of outside interests
  • Much more low hanging fruit is available to cut

The Council members are going to be chickens.  A comment was made about headlines of cuts in the media will create blow back from citizens.  The facilitator made it clear special interests can not be allowed to run the Council.   They need to make tough decisions.

Hales blamed the Police and Fire unions for inflating costs.  He claimed the City could say we can’t afford salary increases, they would go to arbitration and win.

Some cuts discussed without consensus:

-sell the golf courses, not necessarily to remain golf courses

-eliminate bulky waste pick up or maybe only do it twice a year

-privatize garbage pickup; it was mentioned the City loses control – that’s the point!

-cost sharing with other municipalities – maybe return to Metcom

-County cut funding for BN Advantage, maybe the City should too

-automate parking enforcement

Some high priority items mentioned:

  • Code enforcement
  • collecting delinquent taxes and fees
  • Economic Development
  • Parks and Recreation, Zoo, BCPA
  • Park Maintenance
  • Pepsi Ice Center
  • Traffic engineering
  • Snow and ice removal
  • Water supply
  • Fire Department, EMS, Fire suppression
  • Street repairs
  • Compensation and benefits (don’t know why because nobody said benefits need cut)
  • water loss in transmission
  • street repairs
  • local retail property development

Other notes:

Did you know the City has many unfilled positions?  Claims were made that departments couldn’t complete work because of unfilled positions.  It was mentioned that all vacancies are brought to the City Manager before being filled.  If last year’s budget wasn’t all used because of inadequate staff, that could be cut from the upcoming budget to close a $3 million hole.

Scott Black thinks every dollar given to the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau returns $8.  Keep in mind, these are the same people who guess at the Economic Impact from the Coliseum:

Of the 160 programs of the City listed, 73 received at least one vote.  35 received more than 2.  That doesn’t mean those with no votes will be eliminated, some were too obvious to rate.  87 got no votes.

Renner is the biggest obstacle to cuts, it was the same thing we’ve seen for years when cuts were proposed.  He had a counter argument for everything suggested.

I think it was Black who mentioned doing elevator inspections to raise revenue.  That is yet another attack on the private sector who handles them now.

The facilitator asked for other options to outsource or privatize.  Dead silence.

Tari will fight cutting the future of the Creativity Center.  He has Main Street Corridor plans and Economic development hopes.

No one mentioned selling the N Main property the City has over a million dollars invested in.

Scott Black doesn’t want to run away from spending.  He thinks turning O’Neil into a wave pool will pay off in the future.

Renner wants to keep moving the City forward.  He never said what it is moving forward to.

In the future:

Anybody sitting close to the microphone needs to be conscious of paper shuffling, coughing, EATING etc















11 thoughts on “Retreat: Part 2

  1. Again, get out of the entertainment business and use our money for streets and water issues. Let the private sector buy land/buildings. Free money is tempting.


    1. Well I hate to be a doubting Thomas but generally facilitators are hired to facilitate a pre-determined agenda. The notes considering, “The facilitator made it clear special interests can not be allowed to run the Council. They need to make tough decisions.” looks more like a set up to me. I am steering this towards a bit of reverse psychology in noting that this particular revelation is certainly nothing new however in this case as council is challenged by the facilitor it gives council a sense of urgency to make hard decisions that will continue to be decided by (the Renner/Hales puppet masters) other special interests. The story looks somewhat promising but the track record is dismal. Same as it ever was.


      1. I think the Council is plotting to get rid of Tari…at least the members considering a run in the next election anyway.


  2. Scotty and associates are not considering that to achieve the level of “economic impact” they speak of, thousands of visitors from more than 100 miles away would have to spend an overnight stay, eat at least 3 meals/day locally and attend some paid attractions. (yes, the figures are made up estimates.) One thing they fail to take into account is the fiscal impact–the cost TO the City–the “return on investment.” Often in the packets provided to council, the “financial impact” is listed as “None.” News flash–everything costs money–nothing is free, Tari! Even Hales was complaining about the major cost resulting from the downtown hotel proposals. All of those commissions and task forces cost money in the form of staff time and commodities. The nonsense and ignorance need to be abated.


  3. The city “leadership” has remained silent about the State Farm downsizing, which, by the way, is only the beginning of more job losses to come. Not to mention the impact this will have on other businesses, including the restaurant industry from which the city grabs lots of tax dollars. Now that everyone knows its coming, the Council and Tari can’t later pretend to be taken by surprise. That would make them look even stupider (if that’s possible). Instead, they now have to confront reality. Perhaps, they might cut taxes and trim down the balance sheet. Haha! Silly me. More than likely, they’ll further tax and code enforce business owners to death, while continuing to sell (government-determined) “quality of life” as the cornerstone of economic development.


      1. Not a chance! I’ve heard the current number is closer to 13,000. This was before the layoffs were announced, er I mean…”buyouts”.


  4. Blacks says that every dollar brings in EIGHT! Heck, sell the farm and buy into that stock, and see how ole Scott pays off in revenue in 5 years. IF it pays SO much Scotty, then WHY don’t we throw EVERY damn dime at it and lower taxes. What a crock of hoya.. WHO is he TRYING to fool with this kind of BS??


  5. This city governmet is nothing but a dog and pony show. Whether Renner seemed to be neutered or not it’s just part of the show. The dismal record this council has leaves litte hope for any positive change. Same as it ever was.


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