Normal Council: The best comedy show in Town

By: Diane Benjamin At the last meeting (September 8th) Kevin McCarthy pulled approving the bills from the Omnibus Agenda just so he could state “it is just a report”, everything spent was already approved in the budget. Last night Kathleen Lorenz pulled the same item so she could give the same speech. Who’s turn will […]

Why Normal’s agenda needed it’s own story

By:  Diane Benjamin A couple more notes about the retirement present for Jeff Fritzen: This purchase violates the Town purchasing policy: Under Ethics:  PDF page 4 and page 5: PDF page 2:—Officers-Elected-and-Appointed?bidId= Fritzen was paid $4800 a year as Trustee.  That gift was close to a 10% bonus: PDF page 44 The […]

So, is the Town paying Koos to retire?

By:  Diane Benjamin Monday night: See this previous story: Surprise, surprise, the Budget has now been posted: Public comment during a budget hearing can NOT be limited.  Start reading! The AGENDA will be separate story. Spending: Loss? Why is Normal writing Chris Koos a check?  Is it for his retirement or did […]

Normal: Subsidizing Culture

By:  Diane Benjamin The charts below are from the current Town of Normal budget unless otherwise stated: PDF page 64 – Revenue projections for Children’s Discovery Museum and the Normal Theater PDF page 121 – CDM Expense projections PDF page 123 – Theater Expensive projections Projected Revenue: Children’s Discovery Museum   $1,003,050 Normal Theater   $259,700 […]

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.  […]

Bloomington Waiving Moratorium for friends?

By:  Diane Benjamin On the agenda for Monday night is a public hearing on next years budget.  PDF page 163 has a brief summary that says next to nothing: If you want to see details, go here: Also on the Agenda: PDF page 166: Allowing exceptions to the moratorium on video gaming! The […]

Correction: Normal Water Fee Increases

By:  Diane Benjamin (I’m not having a good day and tomorrow won’t be any better!) Water Rate documentation for tonight:  PDF page 72: Back when Normal wasn’t afraid of transparency, they posted the history of rates citizens pay for essential services.  Luckily, I copied them: Water rates in 2009 were:   $4.95 per 1000 […]

Find out tonight: Why Huge Empty Buses

By:  Diane Benjamin The Bloomington City Council is holding a Committee of the Whole meeting tonight: On the agenda: Annual report to be given by Isaac Thorne, General Manager at Connect Transit. Thorne will tout the new electric buses and solar infrastructure.  He will also talk about locations in downtown Bloomington for the transfer […]

What does the BCPA cost you?

By:  Diane Benjamin The budget for the BCPA is buried in the Parks and Rec.  I FOIA’d a detailed Parks and Rec budget to see exactly what it costs. The budget predicts Revenue of $3,073,270. It predicts Expenses of $3,349,098. That is a loss of $275,828. But that’s not the story! $1,700,000 of that $3 […]

Update: Proof Roads aren’t a Priority

They do have $4,290,000 listed in Book 2 as Capital improvements:  PDF page 270 This money comes from the added Local Motor Fuel Tax and part of the increased Sales Tax.  The taxes you already paid weren’t good enough. ___________________________________________________ By:  Diane Benjamin Remember this email from Jim Karch?  I asked him how much […]

Other items from last night’s meeting

By:  Diane Benjamin The City wants you to believe they can control only 5% of the budget.  State mandates were heavily blamed. The budget discussion starts around 1:28. Not blamed was the cost of employees, the cost of their lavish benefits, and pension spiking. This Council made it worse when they hired two more employees […]

1st the State – local fleecing next

By:  Diane Benjamin Illinois politicians at almost every level don’t understand how to live within their means.  They don’t believe you are entitled to spend your money how you want it spent.  Quality of Life!  They know what that is, you don’t. Chris Koos just got a nasty surprise: Funny how both mayors didn’t have […]

No Public Discussion!

By:  Diane Benjamin Everything is scripted in the City of Bloomington to make sure citizens only know what the City wants them to know.  Unlike Tari Renner’s claims of transparency, very little exists.  Try filing a FOIA request and see how long it takes, what is denied, and how much is redacted.  It has gotten […]

The Budget Workshop that wasn’t

By:  Diane Benjamin Thanks to Steve Vogel who today mentioned in his weekly column that Bloomington is in a recession.  Moody’s Analytics  reported that in January (and so did I), but the media has been ignoring it. Anyone who attended the Bloomington “Budget Workshop” today would have seen Bloomington is also ignoring that fact.  If […]

Budget Cuts made easy

By:  Diane Benjamin Cuts could be easy, but nobody at the City wants to cut! It is impossible to suggest specific budget cuts for Bloomington because the data isn’t available.  The City issued hundreds of pages saying where the money is being spent without any details. Was there a line item last year for the […]

WOW! YEAR-OLD financial statements

By: Diane Benjamin Bloomington finally released the financial statements for April 30, 2016. The TIF report still hasn’t been released and neither has a separate audited statement on the Coliseum. Maybe another year? Two? At this point, what difference does it make? It’s much easier to read the information from the Comptroller’s site. Total Full […]

Chapin Rose on Illinois’s budget

By:  Diane Benjamin A number of people have asked me recently where the tax money is in Illinois if the bills aren’t being paid.  Senator Chapin Rose took the time on Tuesday to fill me in. First, he went over how we got in this mess.  Of course, this is his opinion. The Democrats didn’t […]

Bloomington: What citizens need to know

By:  Diane Benjamin Transparency must be dead: No Coliseum reports have been posted on-line since 4/30/15.  (Meanwhile the media is instructed to report false information about real losses) City Manager Monthly Reports haven’t been posted since December 2015. Sewer rates will increase: This is from the Budget Work Session for 2017. Providing the sanitary sewer […]

No transparency in budgeting

By:  Diane Benjamin Discussions of the City of Bloomington proposed budget is not being held in the Council Chambers.  Citizens will never know what happens because video won’t be available.  Unless citizens attend, details will be a secret.  If anyone on the Council cares about the people paying the bills, nobody will ever know. Just […]

Tyranny Tari

By:  Diane Benjamin I find it amazing the Pantagraph has details of the budget David Hales is going to propose Monday night, but the citizens don’t! Nothing is included in the packet, do the aldermen have details?  Obviously the Pantagraph is running interference for the City yet again. In 2013 the General Fund spending was  […]

BCPA – a BIG loser

By:  Diane Benjamin The following numbers were taken from a report received under the Freedom of Information Act. The report has all current budget detail by department.  Email me if you want the report, I can’t link to it in a readable format. ([email protected]) The first column lists everything connected to the BCPA on the […]

Definition: Public Servant

By:  Diane Benjamin Two schools of thought are in play locally: 1)  Government exists to create Quality of Life – no specific definition 2)  Government exists to provide essential services citizens can not provide for themselves – police, fire, streets, sewers etc Normal switched to option 1 when Koos was elected.  Everything that happens there […]

Call Hollywood!

By:  Diane Benjamin Remember when Bloomington bought new garbage trucks and cans?  Why doesn’t the City know how much money they are saving by automating?  How many MILLIONS did that cost, evidently the Council didn’t ask how much would be saved before spending the money and now the City doesn’t know if they are saving money. […]

Bloomington Priorities: We need more money

By:  Diane Benjamin From 4/28/14 City Council meeting: Item 10 E. Discussion of FY 2016 Budget Priorities. Motion by Alderman Fazzini, seconded by Alderman Stearns to lay this item over until the Council’s May 12, 2014 meeting. The April 28th meeting was where the budget was finally approved with tax increases.  Renner promptly started […]