By: Diane Benjamin
The new Bloomington City Manager seems to be launching a campaign to make citizens trust their government. No Tim, spending money on signs when a few roads get fixed isn’t going to cut it. The people paying more for gas will see that as just another waste of their dollars.
Since Tim is new to town, he needs an extensive review of the facts. I will start with the huge and obvious reasons for no trust. The quote from Thomas Sowell Gary Lambert used during public comment fits perfectly:
It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.
The taxpayers of Bloomington paid millions of dollars for a fire station that has never been used. They also likely paid millions more for a water tower that was only used briefly because it was built too short.
Maybe Tim can tell us who paid the price. It sure wasn’t the City Manager at the time, Tom Hamilton. He’s collecting a pension now of $11,900 every month. (see openthebooks.com)
That brings me to the Coliseum which was built against the wishes of taxpayers. No the people haven’t forgotten. The City only made it worse by not managing the people they hired to run the place. David Hales, Tari Renner, and the entire Council knew CIAM needed investigated but ignored repeated requests and demands to do so. Who paid that price Tim? How about the FAKE loss numbers the City puts out to media? Tell your buddies in media to start reporting audited numbers, not pretend ones.
A small number of people are possessed by downtown. The Coliseum and the BCPA were supposed to be catalyst projects that led to revitalization. Both failed. Now people want stamped concrete and transfer station for Connect Transit. Neither of these will do anything for downtown except steal more taxpayer money. The downtown Business Association was supposed to fund itself and was given 10 years to do so and lots of taxpayer money. They failed, so the City quit funding them and hired the two employees. That wasn’t paying the price, that was a reward for incompetence and the downtown merchants not really caring enough to support them.
We are sick of hearing about DOWNTOWN. The City already blew their $100,000,000.
The entire Comprehensive Plan was created from a survey called Bring It On Bloomington. Only 1160 people took that survey, but the City took their answers and spent likely millions developing Master Plans for everything. Bike lanes are joke, funding empty huge buses is a joke, plans for downtown are a joke. Who is paying the price? Just like all of the above – taxpayers.
Tim, passing the gas tax last night when reserve money exists was a slap in the face to taxpayers. Diana Hauman had a great motion to sunset the tax after a year because when the State raises the gas tax the City will be getting more money. She failed to get a second and then blew her credibility by voting YES. Since 2014 the City has received $10,834,652 from State Motor Fuel Tax. Where is that money Tim? It certainly isn’t in the budget for local road repairs.
This story could be pages and pages long. I will switch to just a quick list of other reasons the citizens have no trust in the City of Bloomington:
- Hiring a fundraiser for the Creativity Center and keeping it a secret how much she has raised, why does the City own it anyway?
- Being cozy with the Pantagraph to control what stories they write
- Budget in 2014 was $169.4 million. The total proposed budget is $221.6 million (a $50+ million increase in 6 years!)
- Taxes raised: Motor Fuel Tax twice, Sales Tax, sunset canceled on .25% Sales Tax, Amusement Tax, Utilities Tax, Garbage fees that will increase 3% every year, Sewer and Storm Water, and probably others I’ve forgotten.
- Fire Protection fiasco – who paid that price Tim?
- In 2018 the Council held a workshop to review EVERY program the City funds. They couldn’t find anything to cut,
- $1.4 million is sitting in the North Main property doing nothing to generate tax revenue
- $770,000 is proposed for the Springfield Law firm, buy local isn’t for government
- Is the Pepsi Ice sign still up? Pepsi hasn’t paid for years!
- CII East building owner hasn’t been held accountable to fix his building. Is that because he’s Tari’s former lunch buddy?
- Council refuses to release Executive Session minutes of former City Manager reviews from DECADES ago.
- BCPA and Grossinger Motors Arena event reports get posted when somebody feels like it.
- The pensions payment schedule is impossible to achieve and will never be realized. A downturn in the economy (because it always resets) will wipe out gains. Instead of telling Springfield to fix the problems, the City will tax people out of town.
- Fake business registration program that was forced to be withdrawn. Anybody held accountable?
- Total compensation report for last year still isn’t posted. What is HR hiding?
- Sick leave Buy Back got the City on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. Giving employees lavish pensions at taxpayer expense is worse than a slap in the face.
- Made up facts like economic impact numbers, percent of out-of-towners paying motor fuel tax, and somebody wants to buy the Coliseum.
Tim, this list could go on and on. The City and Council have no credibility especially after raising the Motor Fuel Tax again and fleecing video gaming machine owners only because you can. Attacking businesses is how the City operates.
The local businesses are sick of the attacks. The citizens are sick of the attacks. Trust will never be restored until the City starts over. Fund essential services first, scrap the Quality of Life spending that has destroyed the wallets of citizens.
The City and Council have proven they don’t care about the opinions of citizens or fiscal responsibility.
Until they do Tim, trust is broken. Skip the “Your tax dollars at work” signs.
Readers, feel free to add to the list.