Bloomington, the rest of the meeting

By:  Diane Benjamin

(Something isn’t right about the Habitat solar panels, I’m waiting to hear back from an expert.)

The $135,000 sales tax rebate to Habitat got tabled.  Austin Grammer stated the City asked Habitat how they could help them with their project.  In other words, the City volunteered to give them money.  Solar panels is what they landed on.  That comment is at 1:00:00.  It’s easy to justify spending money.  Any project can be made to sound worthwhile and fabulous.  Grammer did that.  Several Council members brought up good points, hence the table.  Those comments follow Austin.

Amelia Buragas was the only Alderman to not sign the request for a resolution declaring moving the library dead.  She still wasn’t giving up on moving it last night even though the library board voted to build where they are.  See her comments at:  1:32:22.  Black signed the resolution and then voted with Buragas.

The City is moving to save money!  Watch Nicole Alberston at 1:49.  The cost of employee health insurance isn’t rising as fast anymore with changes they have made.  In addition, spouses of employees already covered elsewhere will not be allowed on the City plan.  The unions have to agree though.  If they don’t agree, just make the employee pay the entire cost and quit subsidizing it.  Who is covering the kids?  I don’t know.  The City will also save money by leaving positions open for 90 days unless the City Manager deems them critical.

Congrats to Amelia Buragas for asking about the February 12th minutes I wrote about yesterday:

The City Clerk claimed she was waiting for more suggestions from the Council on what should be included.  It’s a tough job to distill the kerfuffle down to just the facts.  Maybe the City needs a clerk who can.

The rest of the meeting was finding new revenue by raising fees on lots of things with automatic increases every other year.  The actual fee increase language is coming back to a future meting.  I find it funny they call this Cost Recovery.  In other words, everything the City does must pay for itself (except the Coliseum and BCPA).  This pasted without dissent.

Parking downtown will get you a ticket faster than it used to.  The garages will be automated meaning more enforcers will be available.  Parking for special events will cost more too.  Mathy and Black voted against this one.

Businesses are going to be licensed just to raise $200,000.  David Sage was out sick, the vote was 4 to 4, so Renner broke the tie by voting yes.  Remember when apartments were licensed for a nominal fee?  It wasn’t long after that the fee skyrocketed.  This business license will apply to apartment owners, so much for affordable housing.  The lack of affordable housing lies at the feet of this taxing Council.

Note:  None of these fees would have been required if the Council had the guts to cut anything!  The staff is doing a better job at cutting than the Council ever has.










6 thoughts on “Bloomington, the rest of the meeting

  1. The savings from HR are somewhat misleading. The healthcare “savings” are a result of joining an insurance pool for the purpose of negotiating lower rates–3% increase instead of 8%, according to Nicole. The HR department has not discussed or recommended changing policies from ‘Gold Plated” to ‘Silver Plated” which would reduce costs for the 650+ employees even more significantly. The percent of premium payment by the employee is only 25%–tax dollars pay for 75% of the premium costs. whereas in the private sector, the employee is responsible for 40% of the premium. The “soft freeze” is in no way guarantees a “savings” of $500,000. “We estimate 10 positions COULD remain unfilled resulting in a savings of $500,000.” Two full time positions were created for downtown development and one position for a fundraiser for the Creativity Center was filled prior to HR’s presentation and the budget formation.
    Overall, the following is how the $2.9M short-term, budget deficit was filled:
    1. Improving Revenue Collections (past due water bills & parking tickets)=$40,000
    2. Cost Recovery (does NOT include Parks & Rec programs)=$225,000
    3. HR-Soft Freeze (see above)=$500,000
    4. 87 Un-adressed Programs (presented by Community Development)=$371,000
    5. Solid Waste (fee increases and service reduction)=$1,250,000
    6. Parking (fee increase)=$200,000
    7. Inspection Program (Business Registry)=$221,000
    8. Divest Some City Facilities (no discussion here)=$50,000
    The automatic fee increases are a direct result of the need to pay for the automatic salary increases the employees receive. Labor cost for FY2019 are $3M greater than FY2018. Unless the City Council addresses the Labor costs (salaries and benefits) the structural deficit will continue. Additionally, $3M is already tied up in vacant land downtown with more probably budgeted for FY2019.
    Keep in mind, there is only $5M budgeted for street repair which is dependent on sales tax revenue and Motor Fuel Tax revenue–both are user dependent. The local population is decreasing….

    Liked by 1 person

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