There is no “appetite” from the Bloomington City Council to increase property taxes to help close a project $3 million budget deficit next year, an alderman told GLT on Monday.
City leaders met Saturday for a daylong retreat focused largely on the city’s $214 million budget. Like other municipalities, Bloomington’s budget is strained by flattening tax revenue and rising labor costs. Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black said on GLT's Sound Ideas that he’s focused on ways to “reduce services” or “change the delivery of services” to close the expected budget gap.
Bloomington hasn’t raised its property tax rate since 2008, and “I don’t think there’s any appetite from the council to increase property taxes at this time,” Black said.
“I’m tapped out on revenue enhancements, and I think the citizens are as well,” said Black, who represents Bloomington’s west side. “We’ve gotta make strong structural changes to address these issues long-term.”
Black said aldermen will need to look at programs like the city’s “very high-end, Cadillac” bulky waste collection, and explore whether the city can make more money from downtown parking.
“It’s those sorts of things that could ultimately fix some of our long-term budget challenges,” Black said.
Some of the cuts being considered will sound familiar. Black was one of the members of Bloomington’s Budget Task Force that was appointed in 2015 to attack a similar budget shortfall.
Ideally, aldermen will make cuts that “residents wouldn’t notice,” like not filling positions on the city’s staff, Black said. He said he was encouraged by Saturday’s discussion and the specific ideas that were shared.
“But here we are again. And whether you like it or not, municipal government isn’t sustainable,” he said.
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