David Blumenshine – Why he is running

By:  Diane Benjamin It doesn’t make sense to send the same representatives to Springfield over and over and over when Illinois is in a death spiral of debt.  Pensions need reformed, we don’t need a progressive tax that will chase high income job creators out of the state. We need fighters in Springfield, we don’t […]

Pension Millionaires

By:  Diane Benjamin The below proves yet again why you should vote NO to the Democrats Constitutional Amendment for a progressive income tax.  Pensions Pensions Pensions! Below are the top 31 pensions being collected in Illinois.  Keep in mind, these people aren’t working for a dime they are currently receive.  An organization called Taxpayers United […]

More on Normal’s credit rating AND debt

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal reported the same credit ratings in their financial statements that I reported in this story:  https://blnnews.com/2019/12/07/moodys-normal-doesnt-have-a-aaa-credit-rating/ PDF page 33:  https://normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/15625/CAFR19-FINAL-DOC What they failed to tell you is that Fitch is owned by a French company and is the smallest of the “Big Three” ratings companies.    https://www.sapling.com/7319147/sp-moodys-fitch-ratings S&P doesn’t not have […]

Bloomington’s debt ISN’T the Coliseum!

By:  Diane Benjamin Yes, I know I posted this yesterday.  I wouldn’t be re-posting this picture if it wasn’t vital to understanding what is happening to Illinois. Government across Illinois exists for government employees. It does not exist to handle problems citizens can not handle themselves.  This is the proof: An overwhelming percent of the […]

Why Bloomington can’t fix the roads

By:  Diane Benjamin The financial statements for Bloomington’s year ended 4/30/19 are finally being presented at Council Monday night:  https://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=23337 The chart below shows the long term debt.   Why can’t the roads be fixed?  Because retired employees need paid.  OPEB is Other Post Employment Benefits.  Look closely at these numbers! PDF page 31 This chart […]

See the Pension Problem Here:

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal has 136 retired employees collecting a pension.  The information below is from OpenTheBooks.com    https://www.openthebooks.com/Pension/TownNormal At Monday’s Council meeting Karyn Smith asked the Finance Director how much employees contribute.  Police and Fire contribute between 9.8 and 9.9%.  Other employees contribute 4.5%.  All will also receive Social Security.  See the video at […]

IML’s latest Fleece

By:  Diane Benjamin I’ve written many stories about the Illinois Municipal League.  This organization works for cities, not the people paying their bills.  This is their latest plan: It all sounds wonderful until you look at the facts. All of these funding numbers come from the Comptroller’s website, the latest numbers for Bloomington and Normal […]

Four B’s and an R (Gas Tax)

By:  Diane Benjamin Dan Brady, Bill Brady, Jason Barickman, Tom Bennett, and Chapin Rose I bet the gas prices are killing your budget.  Lawmakers never understand you have to cut your budget in other places to pay their tax increases.  You have less money to spend, therefore tax revenue, like sales tax, will decrease.  You […]

Bloomington Council last night

By:  Diane Benjamin The meeting was scripted with pre-determined results, there was very little discussion on anything. The Public Hearing started with a presentation of how the Federal Grant money (CDBG) will be spent.  No one commented, it wouldn’t have changed the vote anyway.  People were urged to take the survey to determine how next […]

Bloomington Monday Agenda

By:  Diane Benjamin The budget will be passed with ZERO priority based funding discussions.  The City staff writes the budget, the Council members nod their head in agreement.  Nothing can ever be cut, the priorities are what the City wants, not citizens. Houseal Lavigne & Associates has already received $125,000 to rewrite the Zoning Code.  […]

$2,559,595!

By:  Diane Benjamin Below is what the failure by the Bloomington City Council to change the Sick Leave Buy Back policy has cost you.  Penalties began to be charged in 2012, they are assessed for allowing employees to spike their pensions with pay for unused days off. Received by FOIA from IMRF:  (the final cost […]

Trust Lesson for Tim Gleason

By:  Diane Benjamin The new Bloomington City Manager seems to be launching a campaign to make citizens trust their government.  No Tim, spending money on signs when a few roads get fixed isn’t going to cut it.  The people paying more for gas will see that as just another waste of their dollars. Since Tim […]

Nobody represents you!

By:  Diane Benjamin If the residents of Bloomington still haven’t figured out the Council doesn’t represent you, watch last night’s meeting.  The schmoozing was over the top with accolades for each other for everything but breathing. There were a few slaps in the face to citizens.  The first one was made by City Manager Tim […]

Democrats run wild

By:  Diane Benjamin Democrats have only been in complete control of the state for a short time.  Already they have passed a $15 minimum wage which make Illinois even less competitive with all of the surrounding states. Other things being seriously considered: Removing all regulations including parental notification on abortion Allowing abortion up to birth […]

Illinois might create a Distressed Cities Fund

By:  Diane Benjamin HB 0875 is working its way through the Illinois House.  SB 0170 is working its way through the Senate. Both bills want the Treasurer is create a Financially Distressed Cities Fund. Both bills ignore Illinois can’t pay its bills.  Both also ignore why cities are financially distressed.  The biggest driver is pensions that can […]

Debt: Normal vrs Bloomington

By:  Diane Benjamin As of 3/31/18 Normal had total debt of $89,823,286.  $88,125,000 won’t be paid off until 2041.  Interest rates range from 2.00% to 6.30%. Source As of 4/30/18 Bloomington had total debt of $242,010,034.  $57,095,000 won’t be paid off until 2035.  The interest rates aren’t listed.  $173,646,119 is liabilities for pensions and associated […]

Gift Cards, Green Top, and SLBB

By:  Diane Benjamin Bills and payroll for Bloomington Monday night: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=20474 I wonder who taxpayers will be handing gift cards to: Green Top’s taxpayer 3 month subsidy: Celebrate!  Four more employees spiked their already high unaffordable pensions so they get an even more unaffordable retirement at your expense:       Agenda: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=20488 Likely without discussion […]

Pepsi Ice? Coliseum? Tax increases?

By:  Diane Benjamin Pepsi hasn’t paid for naming rights at the Ice Center for years.  That doesn’t keep Bloomington from still giving them free advertising: PDF page 196 of the annual financial statements:     http://www.cityblm.org/home/showdocument?id=20281 “Pepsi” is also on PDF pages 32 and 33. Grossinger Motors does pay for naming rights of the former US […]

6:00 meetings?  

The Bloomington City Council meetings never start on time now that the time has been changed to 6:00 pm.  The members that did show up are happily chatting away after 6:00: Last night Amelia Buragas, Scott Black, and Diana Hauman were no shows.  Of course no explanation to the Wards they failed to represent. Kimberly […]

Pension Spiking might end YEARS from now

By:  Diane Benjamin PDF page 336   http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=20206 Sick Leave Buy Back and the resulting pension spiking is finally being addressed (years late) Monday night.  The law changed in 2012 to allow IMRF to penalize municipalities who practice pension spiking.  Without doing another FOIA to IMRF, I believe the penalties Bloomington has paid are nearing $2,000,000. […]

Ever Dream about a NEW Illinois

Information only.  I’m posting this because I know two of the speakers, they are the good guys in Illinois! Speakers at this meeting will include Rep. Brad Halbrook of Shelbyville, Jim Marter, and Paul Preston, founder of New California. (New California is NOT the 3-way state split referendum that you may have heard about on […]

Where does the Pantagraph get their numbers?

By:  Diane Benjamin https://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/years-after-debt-free-milestone-normal-stands-by-uptown-spending/article_3fc56076-8d9b-5367-9899-4af94445ed20.html#tracking-source=home-top-story The Pantagraph ran this cute story about Normal on Tuesday.  Quote from the article: Question: Does Normal not know how much debt they are in, or is the Pantagraph making up numbers? Town of Normal – Comptroller This is the debt reported as of March 31, 2018 to the Illinois Comptroller’s […]

Normal’s fleece tonight

By:  Diane Benjamin http://www.normal.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3047 The financial statements for the year ended 3/31/2018 are being released tonight.  Six month old data isn’t ideal and would never be tolerated in the private sector, but at least Normal didn’t hold the information the way Bloomington did last year.  Since Bloomington’s year-end was April 30th, their financial statements should […]

Pension Spiking: incredible waste of money

By:  Diane Benjamin Spiking pensions in Bloomington has cost taxpayers over $2,000,000 since 2012. Spiking a pension means collecting more in retirement than employees are entitled to.  Your government “gifts” them more retirement at taxpayer expense.  The IMRF retirement system started charging for spiking when they realized the pension funds would not remain viable if […]

Bloomington’s spending priorities Monday

By:  Diane Benjamin If the new City Manager is able to sell his house in Decatur, maybe he can take David Hales’s house off his hands.  It is still for sale, reduced AGAIN to $245,000.  It started at $279,900 last November.    https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/5-Conway-Cir-Bloomington-IL-61704/76972678_zpid/?fullpage=true Tari’s favorite non-profit, Illinois Policy Institute, wrote about Bloomington’s new City Manager, it’s […]

More spiking and other bills

By:  Diane Benjamin Bills and Payroll for 6/11/2018   http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=18004 More Pension Spiking! 1200 hours of paid time @ $44.85 per hour.  The second one doesn’t list the hours. More vote-buying with your money.  They call it Community Relations to sound nice. Is Code Enforcement being outsourced now?  Anybody want to FOIA? Huge Petty Cash at the BCPA has […]

600 jobs lost

By:  Diane Benjamin http://www.ides.illinois.gov/LMI/Local%20Area%20Unemployment%20Statistics%20LAUS/PressRelease/Local/Blm-Peoria_Apr.pdf Compared to April of 2017, April of 2018 saw 600 fewer jobs in Bloomington-Normal: Decatur gained 200 The State Farm bloodbath is just beginning, but here’s worse news: 200 more bureaucrats are employed? That’s bad news for your wallet and the future of Bloomington-Normal. 200 more people dreaming up how to […]

Pension Funding

By:  Diane Benjamin “One of the best-funded pension plans in the country is the nearly 90 percent funded Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which has long had the ability to enforce payments into the plan.” IMRF funding isn’t a problem.  That’s why pension spiking penalties were enacted, the fund couldn’t afford to pay pensions for employees […]

Is Renner delusional?

By:  Diane Benjamin Tari Renner was on WJBC this morning with Scott Laughlin.  Scott asked Tari about pension funding. Tari had to mention the pension funding award he accepted several years ago.  Pension funding was neglected for many years so Bloomington could do fun stuff like the BCPA and the Coliseum.  When Tari was elected […]

The cost of “Full Service” in Normal

By:  Diane Benjamin The numbers below are from the Illinois Comptroller’s website:    http://warehouse.illinoiscomptroller.com/ Normal’s budget has increased 33% in 6 years.  5.5% per year is much higher than the inflation rate.  Last year Normal spent almost $36 million more than it did in 2012. Where is it?  Roads? Population is estimated at 54,264.  That spending […]