Uptown South, since Uptown was such a success

By: Diane Benjamin The Uptown TIF district was started in 2003. Since then it has collected $22,889,578. Bonds totalling $80,600,00 were issued to collect that $22,889,578. That doesn’t include interest which adds many more millions because only interest was paid on the bonds for many years. Add at least 50% to that number. TWO developers […]

Normal’s Uptown TIF report, finally

By: Diane Benjamin The Uptown TIF report was not published with the other 4 TIF reports on the Comptroller’s website because it had errors and was returned to Normal for corrections. That information comes directly from an employee at the Comptroller’s office, she didn’t tell me what errors. You can see the report here: https://files.illinoiscomptroller.gov/LocGovTIF/FY2022/06409531/22TIF06409531Downtown_volpment_1.pdf […]

Bloomington: What you need to know from Monday

By: Diane Benjamin Note to Jamie Mathy: Future Councils are not bound by actions of past Councils. The Tari Renner “ramp” pension funding plan means zero if it can’t be afforded. Tari knew he wouldn’t be around to find at least $10 million more a year in the future. Renner already locked the Council into […]

Tim Gleason needs some history

By: Diane Benjamin The longer a City Manager hangs around their progressive ideology become more apparent. Tim Gleason was evidently hired from Decatur because he spearheaded redevelopment there. Decatur’s is busy during the day because people work downtown. It dies at night, they don’t have the bars Bloomington has. Progressives think government creates prosperity and […]

Did Commerce Bank go Woke and Broke or is Uptown not the place to be?

By: Diane Benjamin The Commerce Bank location at 104 Broadway in Uptown Normal is closing in just a few days. If you have never heard of ESG scores, it is here and detrimental to everything American. Start getting informed here: https://marketbusinessnews.com/financial-glossary/esg-definition-meaning/ Large corporations are being forced to adopt ESG. Commerce Bank is all in: https://www.commercebank.com/about-us/corporate-social-responsibility/esg […]

Unit 5’s Community Engagement

By: Diane Benjamin Unit 5 has held 2 events with citizens because they want a tax increase. The last one is virtual tonight: Question that needs answered: Why did salaries increase in 2020: https://blnnews.com/2022/04/01/unit-5-did-esser-funds-inflate-salaries/ The number of employees and students decreased from 2019 but salaries increased over 7%. Was that a planned increase to push […]

Unit 5 coming for your money

By: Diane Benjamin Community meetings by Unit 5: https://blnnews.com/2022/04/14/unit-5-community-meetings/ Board President Amy Roser tearfully explains why the District needs more of your money in this video. She claims they have deficits of $13 million which will grow to $26 million in 5 years. She doesn’t mention how it will double in a short time. Things […]

Huge Crowd at Unit 5 last night

By: Diane Benjamin Proving yet again local government has no respect for religion, the Unit 5 School Board held a meeting on a Wednesday night during lent. Churches don’t do Lenten services anymore? Mine does. The video claims this meeting lasted until 2:43 this morning. 75 people signed up for Public Comment. Not everyone stuck […]

Uptown TIF isn’t a success

By: Diane Benjamin The TIF reports for Normal have been posted on the Illinois Comptroller’s website. This is the report for the Uptown TIF: The Tax Increment Financing district was started in 2003, that means the majority of it is expiring in 2026. A small part was extended because development hasn’t occurred yet. The theory […]

Koos’ Conflict of Interest

By: Diane Benjamin Below is a map of Normal’s Uptown TIF. Look at the right side, see the area west of Oak St that is not in the TIF? That is Chris Koos’ 2 businesses, he rents the space. https://mcleanil.devnetwedge.com/parcel/view/1427308009/2020 Why were his two businesses carved out of the TIF boundaries? Because it would be […]

More Questions for Pam Reece:

By: Diane Benjamin Remember 305 S. Linden? Without a vote by the Council Pam Reece declared this building surplus property and put it up for sale: Request for proposals: https://www.normal.org/bids.aspx?bidID=267 Since the property is in a TIF staff doesn’t need the approval of the Council according to Town code. Bidding ended in November. Waiting until […]

One reason your property taxes are high

By: Diane Benjamin The second installment of your property taxes are due on 9/17. The check you will be writing is higher because of many things, but a BIG one is Tax Increment Financing. TIF’s The Uptown TIF is Normal’s huge one. The 2020 comprehensive report isn’t available yet, so I have to use the […]

More Property Taxes Normal Doesn’t Owe

By:  Diane Benjamin Ever heard “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves”? The Town of Normal is not only not “watching the pennies”, they aren’t watching dollars either.  (YOUR DOLLARS) These bills are “presented” for Monday night – nobody is suppose to ask questions. Start with the One Uptown Circle Rent.  […]

Important! – Don’t miss this one: The rest of Normal’s fleece

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal Mayor Chris Koos was nominated by Sen Dick Durbin to the Amtrak Board of Directors.  Amtrak and Koos are a perfect fit.  It does mean that Koos can no longer participate in discussions about building an underpass since all decisions involve Amtrak.  See PDF page 5:  http://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/12829/2017-Purchasing-Policy-Manual-x?bidId= Amtrak will be paying […]

Uptown, something easy to understand

By:  Diane Benjamin This is story #3.  I know many of you didn’t understand #2 – I can tell that by the number of “Shares” it received.  Keep in mind sharing information is the only way what I report gets to other people! Brief recap: Story #1:  https://blnnews.com/2020/03/31/normal-remember-all-those-property-tax-increases/ Everybody in Normal is paying higher property […]

Normal: Remember all those property tax increases?

By:  Diane Benjamin For many years the Town of Normal has raised property taxes by telling you the increases were necessary to fund pensions. They left out one fact.  All of the increased taxes for properties located in TIF Districts don’t go to pensions – they go to the TIF. Follow along: This isn’t complicated.  […]

More on Normal

By:  Diane Benjamin This information is from the budget:  https://normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/14883/2019-2024 I don’t know why the budgeted revenue was decreased for this year, but Normal still plans to collect a lot of money for licenses, fines, fees, and permits.  Maybe it’s down because little development is happening creating a need for permits.  PDF page 27. This […]

Uptown TIF: Facts

By:  Diane Benjamin This is the Uptown TIF report Normal filed with the Illinois Comptroller’s office:  19TIF06409531Downtown_volpment_1 The TIF was started in 2003 – most of it lasts for 23 years.  Part was recently extended 12 years because building isn’t finished yet.  The original TIF expires May 3, 2026. See PDF page 3: The Town […]

Interest is NEVER part of the cost

By:  Diane Benjamin Projects governments dream up never include the true cost, interest paid for decades could increase the price by 50%.  It could be even worse for Normal because they are paying no principal on many of their bonds – just interest.  Monday night is the semi-annual bond payments approval festivities.  Of course, discussion […]

The Normal cover-up

By:  Diane Benjamin One more thing happened at Monday’s Normal Town Council meeting that you need to see. First, some background.  Both Bloomington and Normal have decided in recent years to write minutes that don’t reflect exactly what happens at meetings.  If citizens want to research something that happened a year ago and don’t know […]

Corrected: Like Uptown? You will love the debt!

The chart has been corrected.   Normal actually has FIVE loans they are only paying interest on.  Debt payments in FY 2020 total $5,549,176.  Interest is $3,344,176.  TIF revenue will not cover the payments. (This was incredibly difficult to do!) By:  Diane Benjamin The theme for Monday’s Normal Town Council meeting was we LOVE Uptown.  Kathleen […]

Chemberly: Wrong again

By:  Diane Benjamin Last night’s Normal Town Council meeting lasted close to 4 hours.  It started with a conga line of Uptown supporters, most (if not all) connected to government.  2 objectors to the Fiala payoff were conveniently placed at the end of Public Comment.  It started at 8:00 if you want to watch. On […]

Another Questionable Lease in Uptown

By:  Diane Benjamin In 2017 I FOIA’d the Town of Normal for all properties they rent:  https://blnnews.com/2017/01/10/normals-rental-properties/ At least one property didn’t make the list of what I received:  The ISU Art Gallery.  The gallery is tucked under the west end of the parking garage by City Hall. One thing is clear from the latest […]

What Mike Matejka failed to say

By: Diane Benjamin I don’t know how many people pay attention to the blathering on WJBC by Forum commentators, but what Matejka said about TIF’s is nothing more than government talking points. Matejka is after all Chris Koos’ good buddy. See what he said here: http://www.wjbc.com/2019/03/13/wjbc-voices-understanding-tif-investments/?fbclid=IwAR12JhuXkWjHND1rhHt_Y0UlUjfoszIG6WStPU9lVKiGpM2KofKlh3_DfII One side note first: It’s great to see Democrats […]

No bid, Uptown TIF, Welcoming Ordinance

By:  Diane Benjamin Monday night Normal is spending $ 1,271,428 on 4 garbage trucks and waiving the bids.  How do they know the cost is competitive without bids: They will get $420,000 for the four trucks they are trading in. The Welcoming Ordinance does nothing: The open border crowd wanted an ordinance making it illegal for […]

How is Normal’s Uptown TIF?

By:  Diane Benjamin Note:  This information is now 1 year old.  The Illinois comptrollers office finally got around to setting up the structure to enter this data. Uptown TIF:   ftp://ftp.illinoiscomptroller.com/LocGovTIF/FY2017/06409531/17TIF06409531Downtown_volpment_1.pdf The TIF was organized in 2003.  The 2016 report showed positive cash flow of $2,967.  2015 showed a positive $44. TIF theory states increased property tax receipts […]

Hum, Uptown Circle

By:  Diane Benjamin Memory Lane: Remember when Normal promised to pay Bloomington Landmark Development around $1,825,000 to bring Portillos to town? The documentation said Sales taxes will easily cover the cost in about 7 years:    https://blnnews.com/2016/12/02/portillo-town-monday-night/ That was in December of 2016. Just over a year later Normal wrote a huge check to Bloomington Landmark […]

They paid it twice

By:  Diane Benjamin As I reported in this story:  https://blnnews.com/2018/01/14/tuesday-normal-spending/ the Town of Normal made TWO payments of $217,078.24 during January to MCP Uptown Owner LLC. I wasn’t kidding when I said a FOIA was filed! I received 66 pages. As part of the Uptown TIF, increases in property taxes paid are kept by Normal.  The […]

Normal: Found in the financial statements

By:  Diane Benjamin If the Comptroller’s office ever does their job, comprehensive TIF reports will be available.  So far they don’t have the software completed to allow entry of information.  Information from 3/13/17 for Normal and 4/30/17 for Bloomington isn’t complete. Normal’s 3/31/17 financial statements: http://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/12750 PDF page 30: The Uptown TIF Fund reported a […]

Town of Normal Debt

By:  Diane Benjamin As of 3/31/17 PDF page 41:  http://www.normal.org/DocumentCenter/View/12750 Yes the citizens still owe $87,783,723 for Koos’s Uptown dreams. Police pensions are only 51.76% funded (PDF Page 129) Fire pensions are only 55.53% funded (PDF Page 130) That is why citizens are on the hook for $56,106.352 just for these two pension funds.  Obviously the guys […]

UpTown broke?

By:  Diane Benjamin Yesterday I showed how Normal’s Uptown TIF is most likely not generating enough TIF money to cover expenses:  https://blnnews.com/2016/07/26/more-uptown-tif/ Here’s more proof: The 2014 TIF report shows some sharing of revenue with other taxing authorities:  Page 5  ftp://ftp.illinoiscomptroller.com/LocGovTIF/FY2014/06409531/14TIF06409531Downtown_volpment.pdf  The 2013 TIF report also shows sharing taxes:  Page 5  ftp://ftp.illinoiscomptroller.com/LocGovTIF/FY2013/06409531/13TIF06409531Downtown_volpment.pdf The 2015 TIF […]

More Uptown TIF

By:  Diane Benjamin Normal’s Uptown TIF began in May of 2003. Remember, TIF’s are created to encourage economic development.  The hope is any money borrowed or promised will be paid back by the increase taxes received. The Town of Normal 2010 – 2015 TIF Reports are on the Comptroller’s website:  http://warehouse.illinoiscomptroller.com/Downloads.cfm See the chart below.  […]