Say Goodbye to the Mural

By:  Diane Benjamin Trail East is moving forward.  Bids are being taken by Bush Development which means the mural will be going away soon.  See the plan to move it here:  Moving the Mural January 7, 2019 The work was supposed to start by June 1, 2019. This new building is going to be HUGE: […]

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 […]

Normal: Uptown reporting lacks transparency

By:  Diane Benjamin This is a little complicated if you don’t understand TIF districts.  The basics are: An area is declared a TIF in order to revitalize a blighted area Money is borrowed for TIF spending, it can be used to incentivize new development Tax money raised within the TIF is then used to pay off […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 TIF and Taxes

By:  Diane Benjamin TIF’s create a slush fund for government to use – supposedly for economic development.  The increase in property values due to redevelopment create more taxes the City keeps instead of sharing the increase with all taxing bodies. In 2013, The Town of Normal shared some taxes – I don’t know what agreement […]

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 […]

The Uptown fleece

By:  Diane Benjamin Uptown’s 3/31/2015 TIF report:  Uptown TIF This TIF was started in 2003 – remember who started it:  A guy who owns a bike shop. Click on any of the pics below to enlarge them. Start with page 3: Notes: The beginning balance was zero.  That means every dime generated in 2014 was […]