By: Diane Benjamin
Normal managed to have an almost 2 1/2 hour meeting. Much of it was spent trying to straighten out YOUR thoughts about the Town government.
Kathleen Lorenz reiterated again payments can not be discussed because they were already approved in the budget. Pam Reece gave a long diatribe about a payment to Illinois Arts Station for $9,000 because the fire department spent 3 days on their property for training. Pam, there are a TON of old vacant houses in the country the owners actually want burned. If you want a list I can get you one. The volunteer departments train with them, Normal could have had better training actually burning a house for free. Stan Nord wanted to know what other agreements Normal made with IAS, he was ruled out of order. (It’s a secret)
Kevin McCarthy is running for re-election. He frequently said last night: “For those of you watching . . .” and he went on to set you straight. There were 46 people watching. Besides maybe media, Town staff, and those running for office few voters tuned in. McCarthy praised the staff for cutting 1 1/2% to keep property taxes from increasing. Is it tough for you to cut 1 1/2% from your budget? By the way, the Council will have to vote again in December on the actual property tax rate. Things could change then. McCarthy thinks the Council does a great job with finances. Hint: It’s really the staff making decisions, Council just rubber-stamps them.
Chemberly Cummings, also running again if she gets enough signatures, claimed they are “visionaries”. Do you want visionaries running your town? That means they use your money to create what they want to see, not what you need local government to do. Vision is how Bloomington got the Coliseum. Vision is how Normal got the second floor of 1 Uptown Circle for around $36,000 a month. Vision is how you got buried in debt Normal. Pam wants anyone who knows of a firm wanting to sublet the second floor to contact them. Even though that was listed as priority for this year it doesn’t seem to be much of a priority. Besides, the Town is trying to sell the Linden street property where the staff used to work.
Vision is why various members of the Council mentioned they are a “Full Service” town. Was that ever on the ballot? Government is the least efficient way to provide anything. They create nothing unless they take your money. They provide what THEY chose to provide, good roads isn’t one of them.
Hopefully the new Council will cancel “Full Service” in favor of “Essential Service”. “McBride” all of the current trustees and mayor to achieve that.
See 1:40:18. This is the most important point of the night. Stan Nord asked how the bonds are going to paid when the majority of the Uptown TIF ends in just a few years. The finance director stated the debt would be re-modeled. That means payments have to be reduced because revenue from the TIF will disappear to pay bonds. It also means debt payments will be stretched out for many more years meaning interest will be increase substantially. Liken this to buying a new car and financing it for 30 years.
The Finance Director produced charts showing large deficits in the next 5 years. Maybe Normal should stop spending on “wants” like bike paths, grants aren’t paying the total cost. His presentation starts at 1:05:20.