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Bloomington Council candidates address pensions and managed competition

Fri, 22 Mar 2013 12:12:16 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

Almost none of the candidates for Bloomington City Council support the idea of managed competition when the question came up at a west side candidates' forum. Most of the candidates viewed the term as a synonym for outsourcing city functions to private firms. 7th Ward candidate Bernie Uszcienski says it starves a municipality of capital that can spark economic activity.

7th Ward Candidate Scott Black says most communities end up regretting such decisions. First Ward Candidates Kevin Lower and Jamie Mathy came closest to embracing the concept and both said it should be used only for minor administrative and specialized tasks, not for core city services. Mayor Steve Stockton said after the forum that all the candidates misunderstood the concept...that it is not outsourcing, it is efficiency seeking. He cites the example of the city decision to eliminate duplicate ambulance service Lifeline and bring emergency medical services under the city umbrella as an example of managed competition.

The City also faces significant future unfunded fire and police pension liabilities. By some accounts payments will have to rise from the current six million dollars a year, eventually to 30 million dollars a year. City Council candidates at a League of Women Voters forum did not have easy answers. 5th Ward candidate Mathew Koetters offered the starkest choice.

Koetters' opponent Alderman Jennifer McDade says a combination of things must happen over the next ten to 25 years incluuding pension reform in Springfield, a dedicated local revenue stream, and economic development that will produce more tax revenue. Third Ward Alderman Mboka Mwilambwe says there will be some relief to the pressure.

Some candidates suggest using Motor Fuel Tax money to make pension payments, but 7th Ward candidate Scott Black says that's not dependable.

A city council committee is studying the issue now. The election is April 9th.


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