By: Diane Benjamin
Tim Gleason, City Manager, wants all residents to see the 2019 Year in Review: https://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=23981
It does have an impressive list of private sector investments. It doesn’t have a list of how many more could have been made but weren’t because they weren’t the “right fit”.
Many listed are restaurants. How many went out of business because the limited disposable income available was merely relocated to new places?
The Finance Director, Scott Rathbun, presented this document about the upcoming budget: https://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=23979
It will be discussed in more detail next Monday. It is very easy to read, please look at it.
One things suspicious after the glowing Year in Review report is the City is expecting a 9.8% decrease in permit revenue. What are they basing that on? The Year in Review claims the City will save around $250,000 by bringing legal back inside. The overall budget does have small increases, but nothing close to previous years that demanded tax increases to fund. Of course Capital plans haven’t been discussed yet: O’Neil pool and a fire station.
The Council discussion time allotted at only 10 minutes was extended twice. Why do the representatives of the people have time limits anyway? What happened to discussion and debate until consensus is reached?
Mostly the discussion was good. A big topic was the credit card fees incurred when citizens use a card to pay their bills. That fee could be as much as 3%, the cost to the City is over $1,000,000 a year now. A lot of places tack on a fee for credit card use, but a better solution is to implement an ACH (Automatic Clearing House) payment plan that isn’t as expensive. That fee could be only 1%.
Scott Black wants more trees planted every year, currently it’s around 500. Here’s an idea Scott: I think the State of Illinois sells really cheap saplings. Buy a bunch and hand them out to every 5th grader. It wouldn’t cost much and kids can be encouraged to take care of their tree and the environment. If a kid doesn’t have a place to plant it, have Parks map out planting locations. The Parks Department doesn’t have to buy, plant, and tend most of the trees. Kids and their families get involved with their community. I don’t know when schools quit handing out trees, many of you will probably remember when they did.
Later the discussion went sideways. See 51:00. Jenn Carrillo wants child care services so people can attend Council meetings. People attend when something is on the agenda that affects them. Most people know the budget is going to take their money, with no proposed tax increases it isn’t that controversial. The process under Tim Gleason and Scott Rathbun is a vast improvement from the last City Manager! Beside, the meetings are on line, childcare isn’t going to pack the room. Are kids not welcome now? Shouldn’t they see the process too?
Jenn also wants protection for people from the weather. (Emergency plans) That is a duplication of services, City tax dollars aren’t needed. Jamie Mathy said later the McLean County Emergency Management Agency put out a list last week of emergency shelters.
Bloomington instituted a Rental Inspection program back in 2016. Both Jenn and Julie Imig mentioned the need. What happened to the program? Bloomington was going to inspect every apartment whether the renter wanted it inspected or not! See this story: https://blnnews.com/2016/01/12/landlords-revolt/
Connect Transit is getting another $30,000 from you, it’s the standard yearly increase.
The meeting wasn’t very long, skip the boring parts, listen to the budget discussion. it begins at 21:30.