By: Diane Benjamin
Last night’s Normal Town Council meeting lasted close to 4 hours. It started with a conga line of Uptown supporters, most (if not all) connected to government. 2 objectors to the Fiala payoff were conveniently placed at the end of Public Comment. It started at 8:00 if you want to watch.
On the Fiala vote, Stan Nord and Karyn Smith voted no. The supposed Republicans, Lorenz and Preston, voted to give away your money. It all sounds wonderful – the Town isn’t giving away current money, they are giving away future revenue. Karyn made the point it’s all the local taxes on the first $5,000,000 in sales. What this vote amounts to is:
- picking winners and losers
- shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic
- redistribution of wealth
There is a reason wealth increases wealth. Government salivates at handing out money to those willing to spend. The rest of us pay the tab. Since the Fiala’s are building for the local community (discussed last night) some other businesses will lose market share to them. There are limited dollars available for eating out. Normal wants them concentrated in Uptown.
Chemberly Cummings proved she is clueless. (She was seriously salivating over the project!)
Chemberly compared the Fiala brothers to Portillos. She actually thought their payoff happened early because of high revenue. She even asked for somebody to correct her it she was wrong, Pam Reece started to, but Chemberly continued anyway.
Fact Chemberly: The Portillos money ($1,825,271) went to Bloomington Landmark Development, not Portillos. It was supposed to be reimburse them for tearing down a hotel with future Food and Beverage receipts.
It wasn’t paid with tax receipts The developer is the same guy who did 1 Uptown Circle. In January 2018 the Town wrote him a check for $1,726,760. It was pretty obvious at the time he needed the money. The apartments in Uptown weren’t renting well and the first floor generated no income. (It still doesn’t). I remember Town officials claiming the payoff was to save interest. Essentially taxpayers were lied to about “future revenue” paying the bill. See the check in this story: https://blnnews.com/2018/01/01/normal-questions-questions/
Side note: Zillow shows 2 – 2 bedroom apartments still available for rent – $2500 a month. TrailEast will add more apartments.
Don’t miss Koos shutting off discussion at 1:33:37 after Stan Nord made his arguments against it. Koos claimed he knew where this was going and didn’t want to hear anymore.
Earlier Koos claimed he was offended that Karl Sila referenced the TIF in his public comment. Karyn Smith pointed out right before the vote the Council documentation mentions the TIF. Lorenz paused before voting yes, I wonder if she was actually considering a NO vote. See Smith and the vote at 34:00 and following.
It will take more than one story to cover the 4 hour marathon. The financial statements and the Uptown TIF were discussed WITHOUT providing copies to the Trustees or the Public. The Town told people what to think. The Town’s convenient Public Comment policy allowing only items on the agenda means once the documents are unpacked they can’t be mentioned at a meeting.
Normal: You scored on electing Karyn Smith. As an accountant, she asked many great questions and pointed out facts concerning both the TIF and financial statements. More on those later.
Just hit play to here Chemberly (1:08:30):