Bloomington City Council Approves Interim $ 27 Million Tax Levy, Proposes Flat Tax Rate

Bloomington City Council on Monday approved an interim combined tax levy of $ 27 million, with plans to maintain a flat tax rate of 1.4%.

While the council unanimously supported the bulk of the levy for the city’s budget, some members opposed to the Bloomington Public Library levy which will be used in part for an expansion project.

A public hearing on Dec. 6 is scheduled for the proposed levies: $ 20.9 million for the city budget and $ 6.1 million for the Bloomington Public Library. The board is expected to vote on December 13.

Also at the meeting, held at the Downtown Government Center, the council discussed the city’s annual financial report with respect to an independent audit, and approved plans to replace the roof of the Miller Park pavilion.

Key to increasing property values

For the owner of a $ 165,000 home, the proposed levy would represent about $ 770 of his tax bill to Bloomington and his library, said Scott Rathbun, Bloomington’s chief financial officer.

About 43% of that tax levy is used for police and firefighter funds, especially pensions, Rathbun said.

He told the board at its meeting on Monday that a planned 2.25% increase in Bloomington’s Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) means the city won’t have to raise the tax rate. But this final AVE and tax rate will not be finalized until January, he added.

The projected EAV of the Bloomington Township property is approximately $ 1.9 billion, up $ 42.5 million from 2020 figures. Rathbun says that on that basis, and without an increase in the rate In taxation, the city is expected to generate revenue growth of approximately $ 275,000 and the library of approximately $ 50,000.

The BPL levy will be used for the planned library expansion of $ 22.8 million. It has been preparing for more than a decade.

The project will be funded with approximately $ 17 million in general bonds, and the remainder with BPL reserves and fundraising. The library’s annual fee is its main source of income, according to council documents.

Originally proposed as a combined levy vote, council on Monday chose to separate the vote on the two levies, with the city’s $ 20.9 million levy garnering unanimous support.

The Council votes 6-3 on the library fee OK

The $ 6.1 million levy for BPL – which is a 23% increase over last year’s figure, or about $ 30 more in taxes for the owner of a $ 165,000 home – did not receive the same overwhelming support.

A 6-3 vote found Donna Boelen from Ward 2, Sheila Montney from Ward 3 and Nick Becker from Ward 5 voting “no”.

Becker said the city should focus more on cutting costs. The interim tax levy for the library may be a small amount on a tax bill, but taxpayers find it adds up, he said.

“Have you ever heard the expression ‘death by a thousand cuts of paper?’ “, did he declare.

But Tom Crumpler of Ward 9, who voted “yes,” defended the library tax, saying the past decade has shown that libraries need to keep pace with the evolution of cultural technology.

“We need to make sure that our public library is a 21st century facility – and that this facility is equipped with the tools and resources to meet the changing needs of all residents of this growing community,” he said. declared.

Rathbun said the majority of property taxes fund education; 61% of the tax bill goes to the School District in District 87. About 13% is for the city, and 3% is for BPL. The remaining 23% provides tax revenue to the county, Heartland Community College, Central Illinois Regional Airport, Bloomington Township, and the Water Harvesting District.

Bloomington’s property tax revenues cover about 20% of its general funds, Rathbun said.

“One of the reasons that property taxes are so high in Illinois has to do with how our public education is funded as a whole,” noted Julie Emig of Ward 4. She said these taxes are also. related to the way in which municipalities strive to address long-neglected public pension funds.

As for the amount charged for the library, Emig said it was only a very small part of the tax conversation.

“You have to think about a larger context,” she said.

City audit and finances

Jason Coyle, of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP, told the council on Monday that the city’s financial records were clean and correct, resulting in what is known as an unmodified opinion.

The independent audit was linked to the city’s comprehensive annual financial report, which was finalized in October.

Coyle noted that this year’s improvements included how Bloomington updated its utility billing system and created better financial controls at the Grossinger Motors Arena.

Later in the meeting, Rathbun said the council city’s finances continued to hold up, giving credit to the influx of federal COVID-19 relief funds. He also noted the ripple effect of Rivian’s growth in Normal, with the city seeing an increase in hotel tax revenues.

In other cases

The board unanimously approved its consent agenda on Monday, without discussion. It means OK:

  • A spending limit of approximately $ 450,000 for rock salt. The city will purchase the salt from Compass Minerals, Inc., at a price of $ 64.65 per tonne.
  • The replacement of the 25-year-old roof of the Miller Park Pavilion, costing approximately $ 66,000. J&F Chiattello Construction will take care of the project.
  • The annual financial report of the John M. Scott Health Care Trust. This non-profit organization provided nearly $ 660,000 in community assistance in fiscal 2021.

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