By: Diane Benjamin
The Town of Normal scheduled ONE day for the Council to review next years budget put together by staff. So far they have met for a little over 9 hours and they aren’t done. They will continue Monday before the Council meeting.
Note: 9 hours all at once with a few breaks.
They planned to spend ONE day spending $138 million. A few observations:
- How many citizens are going to watch a 9 hour and counting video?
- How many Council people are even paying attention for this long?
- Is that why the Town does budgeting like this?
- Multiple meetings on different topics is too difficult for the staff?
- If they meet for another 3 hours on Monday, they will be spending $11,500,000 per hour.
The proposed 5 year budget is 369 pages long: https://normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/18048/Proposed-Budget-2021—2026
Now for Rivian:
The Town has already spent $250,000 on an engineering study to run water on West College to Rivian. They are duplicating services since Bloomington already has water lines to Rivian. If you ever wondered why the two municipalities don’t combine services to save you money – this is the perfect example. They don’t want to.
Start at 8:44:15. Stan Nord is still trying to get an explanation for the project. The budget lists this as critical and has $4.75 million more listed as the cost. That is $4.75 million that won’t be spent upgrading ancient infrastructure that badly needs it. (Just another example of priorities that need aligned with needs instead of wants)
Stan Nord doesn’t get an answer, Chris Koos did not allow the staff to answer. Koos claims his questions have been answered. The Town did not provide any proof economic development will happen if they spend this money.
Side Note: Bloomington built a NEVER used fire station because they thought Diamond Star/Mitsubishi would be an economic boom to the west side. It is now sitting idle except for occasional meetings held there.
Jump to 8:55:00 and listen for a few minutes. Kathleen Lorenz claims water usage is down so she considers this a business strategy looking for new commercial users that will grow the market and keep rates low for citizens. She wants shovel ready projects for when somebody wants to locate by Rivian. Stan jumps back in at 8:58:10. He wants to look at community development in coordination with Bloomington instead of laying pipes next to theirs. Pam Reece follows, she wants more commercial users for the same reason as Lorenz. Since there are no new commercial businesses to connect water lines to, she must be planning to connect to Rivian because otherwise they are pipes to nowhere.
My sources tell me Rivian doesn’t use near as much water as Mitsubishi did, so it may not be the windfall Normal expects.
If the goal is to keep water rates low, why speculate with more than $5 million now in hopes of future revenue? Nord pointed out that development takes time to build and the Town could still run lines in time to meet needs. Of course he was ignored.
Isn’t this the same philosophy that buried citizens in debt for Uptown? If we build it they come! Have you seen the empty store fronts in Uptown?