The Bloomington City Council is on record in support of continued state funding for Connect Transit. The Twin Cities' bus system faces a shutdown in January unless the Illinois Comptroller transfers funds appropriated earlier this year by the state legislature.
The $5 million owed to Connect Transit is part of a larger funding package for several downstate transit systems. Connect Transit's General Manager Andrew Johnson, who is President of the Illinois Public Transportation Association, spoke to council members about the state's legal authority to provide funding.
"We totally consider any shut down in service to be an extreme worst-case-scenario. We also know that if it did come to that, it will be a temporary situation," said Johnson. "The state will eventually come forward with that money. We just want to make sure there is no gap in service."
Johnson also said if Connect Transit wanted to continue running Connect Mobility without the state funding, regular service would need to end this month rather than in December.
The City Council also looked into improving their emergency response time to align with the national average. The Council approved the proposed estimate of the 2016 tax levy of over $20 million with allotted funds to hire six potential new paramedics.
Bloomington emergency crews arrive on scene at an average time of eight minutes, while the national average is six. Mayor Tari Renner said it is vital to bring in additional help.
"I think we need new paramedics. This is an example of life or death," said Renner. "If you're talking about six new paramedics, especially in the area of northeast Bloomington, from Hawthorne Hills all the way up in the northeast part of our city, the response times are unacceptably high. I absolutely support this."
The Council also approved a tax levy for the Bloomington Public Library just under $5 thousand along with considering the operation of Crawford's Corner Pub.