Normal: Financial Trends report is immaterial

By: Diane Benjamin

During Tuesday’s night Normal Town Council meeting much was made about the Financial Trends Reports and what a valuable tool it is.

This year it isn’t. It recaps what happened from 4/1/2019 through 3/31/2020. Something happened around the time this report ends:

Glance through the report. It contains little current information: http://normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/17189/Financial-Trend-and-Condition-Report-FY2019-20

The bottom of page 8 continuing on page 9 has a brief outlook for the future:

Jump to PDF page 16. The County workforce in 2010 was 96,252. This March is was 88,460.

PDF page 20 recaps Normal’s property tax increases since 2010 as well as the overall tax rate. PDF page 21 and 22 are the charts Normal will use to justify property tax increases.

FYI: In a thriving economy property values rise that produce increases in property tax receipts. Obviously your biggest investment isn’t increasing in value enough to keep from getting fleeced by higher rates.

PDF page 28 – Food and Beverage Tax income was down before COVID.

PDF page 34 shows the Bonded Debt – outlook positive. $84,320,000. Bonded debt is only a part of the Town debt. Last fiscal year the Town only paid off $2.21 million. A chart isn’t included showing how many millions were paid in interest. Keep in mind no principal is being paid on some bonds – just interest. Outlook Positive?

PDF page 36 – General Fund Cash Balance. In 2011 it was $7,451,000. In March it was $17,866,000.

See PDF pages 38 and 39. Pension Funding for Police and Fire have been going the wrong direction for years. 100% funding can not be achieved by 2040. Since the market has recovered much of the losses incurred right before this report was produced, updated funding percentages need to be presented before the Council passes HUGE Property Tax increases to compensate for what this chart shows.

There is a lot of other information in this report. For it to be useful the information from 3/31/2020 needs updated.

Since this report is only issued once a year the Finance Department probably won’t update it. Next September we will have out-of-date information again.

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7 thoughts on “Normal: Financial Trends report is immaterial

  1. It’s been crickets from both of the Twin Cities with regard to the financial impact of COVID, as well as any economic plan or path forward. Common sense tells anyone that the economy (every economy) has been crushed. So, why are we not talking about this? The reason Koos and the gang aren’t laying the cards on the table is that it would require them to deal with the problem and make some tough choices. It would mean increasing taxes and fees or saying “no” to debt-financed boondoggles like Uptown 2.0. Perhaps, worse still, Koos and Co. would have to justify to taxpayers (and voters) their past, present, and future spending. Not sure they can get away with punting these discussions until after the April election.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is truly incredible to watch this happen. Is anyone else noticing the empty business locations that are not being filled around town?

      I am told there are 4000 ISU students in town? That would be minus 16,000 students right?

      And Tesla is about to announce break-through battery technology.

      Maybe Rivian can steal it?

      And God only knows what is going on with State Farm?

      Nothing to see here?

      Like

  2. The audit was to check that numbers are reported where they should. The audit does not validate whether the spending or taxing was fiscally responsible. When the town chooses to spend more on items then necessary because they “like” a vendor, or when they spend money on things the mayor wants, like the unnecessary underpass or trail East, or when they rent out taxpayer owned property for less than market value.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll take BICYCLES for $500, Alex!
    Uptown has about as much “physical responsibility” as a kind in front of a candy shop with a full piggy bank and a hammer..

    Like

  4. This is similar to something I have been dealing with lately. My daughter graduated from college with a double major; Political Science/Democracy and Justice Studies a couple of years ago. She brought a lot of her books back home and I have been reading many of them for my own education. Unfortunately with Covid-19 now I have to read them from a whole new prospective and the worth of many of them is much less than it was.

    Liked by 1 person

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