By: Diane Benjamin
Before Stan Nord and Karyn Smith were elected, Normal’s Council meeting last night would have lasted 3 minutes. There was no business on the agenda to be discussed. A Trustee would have motioned to pass the Omnibus Agenda the others would have fought over who could “second” it the fastest. A vote would have been taken without questions on any items. A couple comments later a motion to adjourn would have been made, seconded, and passed.
Everybody would have patted themselves on the back for “performing”.
Those days are over!
The three minute meeting went on for and hour and 44 minutes. Various members, including Koos, tried to stifle the conversation. Kathleen Lorenz was particularly detestable. She tried to tell the “new” members to sit back and watch for awhile until they see how things are done.
Hint: How things are done got Smith and Nord elected!
Karyn Smith started the discussion by pulling 5 items for the Omnibus Vote Agenda. One of the items was approval of Expenditures. Connect Transit would not have been discussed if she hadn’t even though Public Comment continued to convey the problems. Both cities have an intergovernmental agreement with Connect giving them authority over the transit budget. To date it hasn’t been discusses even though the CT year starts July 1st. Both Karyn and Stan want Issac Thorne at the next meeting – the last one before the new budget goes into effect. Normal’s attorney doesn’t think eliminating a route and raising fees is a major change requiring approval by both towns.
Bloomington and Normal will need to be forced into changing the Connect Transit mission before the needs of riders who must use the bus are met. Anybody want to bet on whether Thorne will be unavailable? It was again pointed out to Chris Koos that Normal is short one representative on the CT Board.
At 40:30 City Manager Pam Reece claims the Olive route CT wants to eliminate only had 8 boardings per hour. She claims the decision to eliminate it is data driven. The April CT report shows boardings per hour for the ENTIRE bus system was 26.31. How is 8 an insignificant number? Did she mean boardings per day? See PDF page 11: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CbmR9DiMsXr6XQ1U_8AaLtGKH9yGbh_x/view
Stan continued the conversation with questions on other expenditures. He mentioned the property tax bills and conveyed Pam Reece found a bill Normal should NOT be paying. She has now forwarded information to get that property marked as exempt. See 51:20. He also pointed out that taxpayer assets are being rented for less than it costs the Town to maintain them. (Remember that $100 a month lease for property on Linden that hasn’t come back to Council?) Stan wants all future rent agreements to cover the Town’s costs.
This would not have happened under the previous Council who rubber-stamped everything!
So many things happened during this meeting it will take 2 stories. Stay tuned for Part 2.
Meanwhile, the video is cued to Public Comment, more on that in the next story too.