by: Diane Benjamin
First a little history. From the Pantagraph How Time Flies 1/21/2020:
Have your property taxes gone down?
Responsible adults know being able to make the payments is not a good philosophy to live by. If you want to make the neighbors jealous by living in a mansion with two expensive vehicles parked in the driveway and being buried in debt, this story isn’t for you. Most of us would rather sleep at night knowing our financial future isn’t contingent on the next economic downturn.
Refer back to the Total Debt story from Tuesday: https://blnnews.com/2020/10/05/normal-is/
That story shows bonded debt of $84,320,000. The $1,432,874 loan listed below in that story doesn’t have interest – it’s money being paid back to the IEPA so it doesn’t play a part in this story.
Now jump to Normal’s CAFR – the financial statements as of 3/31/2020. PDF page 84 https://normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/17188/CAFR20-FINAL-DOC
Business-Type activities are things like the Children’s Discovery Museum that isn’t really a business since it’s subsidized. Add the two totals in yellow and it matches the debt reported in the previous story.
By the time the Government Activities Debt is paid off the cost is 44% higher than what was borrowed. The Business-Type debt will cost another 44% more than what was borrowed.
Keep in mind, interest is always higher in the early years because the principal is higher. The actual percent for each is higher than this chart reflects.
Now see this Pantagraph article from September 2018: https://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/20-years-after-debt-free-milestone-normal-stands-by-uptown-spending/article_3fc56076-8d9b-5367-9899-4af94445ed20.amp.html
The title is:
20 years after debt-free milestone, Normal stands by uptown spending
Chris Koos, Pam Reece, and Finance Director Andrew Huhn didn’t have a problem with the debt.
Refer back to the Karraker quote above. He never had any intention of reducing property taxes. Chris Koos needs to explain how the Quality of Life is better because of this debt for the citizens of Normal. Your taxes and fees keep going up. If tax revenue is up the Town is using it to pay interest and will be for decades.
The Town didn’t plan on an economic downturn. How many businesses will survive in Uptown? How many more years will the first floor of 1 Uptown Circle be empty?
Yes debt will be a campaign issue again next year.
The Town will be building bike paths out to Rivian instead of answering questions.
The budget when Chris Koos became mayor in 2003 was 43,155,928
The 2020 budget was 129,438,269
That’s a 300% increase.
How’s the working for you Normal?