By: Diane Benjamin
City Manager Tim Gleason was on WJBC this morning. The latest example of “leading from behind” is the new pension spiking policy. Non-union employee policy will change AFTER all the union contracts are changed – if they are changed. Those non-union employees are likely management. Instead of setting an example of putting taxpayers ahead of unearned financial gain, management is “getting theirs” until all the plebes submit to actually earned pensions instead of inflated benefits.
There is no guarantee the unions will agree to stop spiking. Two union contracts were just ratified, it will be years before anything changes. Meanwhile, employees charge for the exits so they can earn more in retirement than most people do working. Congrats Council, your 9-0 vote is meaningless. The millions you will be paying to IMRF could have been spent on your precious downtown. Instead, citizens get ZERO for their money.
Speaking of downtown, Tari did a proclamation for Crossroads Handicrafts of the World – 30th anniversary. One of the Crossroads staff took the opportunity to tell the Council they need to do something about downtown because they want to stay. Even though sales could probably double if they moved where people actually go, maybe she should read the above. The Council would rather protect employees and give lip service to the downtown failures. After the employees, there isn’t any money left for pretty.
Donna Boelen spoke during Public Comment. She reminded the Council they have had years to fix the pension spiking problem. The City has claimed since at least 2015 the policy couldn’t change because of legal challenges. While cities like Springfield fought and won, Bloomington did nothing. Donna said the union contracts negotiated in the last 3 years could have contained a simple phrase stating spiking was subject to change depending on the outcome of court cases. Instead of the problem being over now, citizens will be paying for higher pensions for at least 2 years. Donna is running in Ward 2 to replace the retiring David Sage. I don’t remember ever seeing her opponent speak at a Council meeting. Bloomington needs Donna.
Gary Lambert also spoke. He wants to know why the Zoo construction approved last night was not budgeted. It wasn’t, they are using fund balances to pay for it and a $600,000 loan. Eventually the zoo will want solar panels too! The funniest line was Tim Gleason proclaiming the $1.2 million construction (including interest) will create a revenue stream. If sales materialize, the City thinks they will net $85,000 a year. PDF page 366 http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=20206
Loan payments are $50,000 a year for 15 years. The City is also paying back the Park Dedication fund over 15 years at Zero interest – $27,000 a year. If food sales are off 10%, no revenue stream! See Gleason’s comment at 1:03:50.
Business Licensing and Business Registration are two separate programs! Or, they will be until the City needs money to re-register every business every year. Joni Painter questioned the need to raise ambulance fees to un-affordable levels, but then voted yes anyway. It passed 5-4, Mathy-Sage-Schmidt-Black voted against it. PDF page 118 at link above claims this will make Bloomington business friendly. Ha! Rents just increased, owners of numerous locations will pay a fee for each location. Every business should realize they are not welcome except for their tax dollars.
The Finance Director gave his monthly finance report (1:18:40). As usual, the documentation is not included in the packet. He claims everything is rosy, but this is included on PDF page 339:
Hum . . . . .
Hit play to hear the lady from Crossroads. Following is the welcome for a police officer who has passed probation (Michael DeReu). Public comment follows.