By: Diane Benjamin
Much of the meeting was spent talking about the 3/31/2020 financial statements and the financial trends report. Neither are on-line yet, so they aren’t worth discussing much here. Many accolades were thrown at staff for doing a good job preparing for the audit. I agree, but isn’t that what they get paid to do?
The percent funded of both the police and fire pensions dropped. Without major tax increases Normal will never get to 100% funded by 2040. Higher property taxes are coming soon. The stage was set last night by comparing rates with surrounding cities. The TOTAL tax burden Normal has inflicted on citizens is immaterial when they think pensions can only be funded with property taxes.
Did you know the Rivian plant – located in Normal – gets water from Bloomington? One source I will keep confidential told me that is because Normal does not have the capacity to supply any major manufacturers.
That didn’t stop the Council from approving the $250,000 “Water System Analysis and Project Design”. It was billed as economic development, in other words: If we build it they will come. I bet the Council doesn’t even know about Rivian. Normal believes development will happen even though 30 years of Diamond Star/Mitsubishi did little. Kathleen Lorenz took this opportunity to berate Stan Nord for not wanting economic development. Stan thinks other more pressing concerns should be funded first. Remember the pandemic? Evidently Normal is flush with cash.
See Koos criticize Stan at 57:40. Lorenz follows, also criticizing Stan. She must not know Normal can’t handle a BIG business on their water system. McCarthy follows explaining why Normal needs to be ready. Bloomington has a water main to the south side of College now. Nobody mentioned it.
Worse, if new development doesn’t connect extensive main flushing will be required. That increases costs. Of course Normal will be looking for grants to build after the study is done. It goes right over their heads grants are still tax dollars stolen from citizens, that money has just been diminished by salaries and benefits for bureaucrats charged with handing them out.
Real economic development is creating an atmosphere for businesses to thrive. Limit regulations, permits, and of course taxes and fees. Normal prefers pretend economic development, just look at Uptown.
Reducing 4 hours to three stories isn’t easy. I will just hit a few more items. If you can’t sleep tonight, watch the whole thing yourself.
More proof Normal didn’t hire the former head of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission for her computer skills, this screen appeared instead of the American flag for the pledge – nothing interesting, just invites to the Zoom meeting:
Kevin McCarthy must be auditioning for re-election. He pulled items B, C, and D. From the Omnibus agenda. Lorenz pulled E. Stan didn’t pull anything. See the agenda here: http://normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3731
McCarthy wanted to parrot Chris Koos by claiming bills were already approved in the budget. Not really since individual items aren’t – for example Pam Reece can spend up to $20,000 (if I remember right) without Council approval. That spending will only appear when the list is published. Nice try though Kevin.
The other two items were pulled simply so Kevin could sing their praises.
Stan Nord thought buying local should be a high priority. He suggested contacting the Economic Development Council or the Chamber of Commerce before spending out of Town. Nobody else was buying that philosophy. Normal does pay the EDC to know the local businesses.
Normal is in debt for around $214 million. That includes the bonded debt ($85 million), pension obligations, and post employment benefits. Stan managed to slip that in during discussions. The interest being paid amounts to a lot more. If you are on Facebook, don’t miss Stan’s Council recap. Nobody in Normal government is happy he does these videos.
The CAFR (financial statements) and the Financial Trends Report just got posted. Maybe more later or tomorrow.