BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington City Council will be asked Monday to weigh in on whether to explore levying a video gambling machine fee and raise the city utility tax to replace the O'Neil Park pool and raising fuel taxes to increase street repair work.
As part of preparing a balanced budget for fiscal 2019, which begins May 1, 2018, interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen is asking the council to vote on whether the city staff should explore those funding options.
"These are just motions to see if they want to move in those directions or not. If they do, we'll bring it back. If they say 'no,' we're not going to waste our time trying to do that," said Rasmussen. "That's what we kind of did with solid waste."
Also at the special voting session at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, Fire Chief Brian Mohr will update the council on emergency response times, and the council will be asked to provide direction on several Downtown Task Force recommendations, excluding the proposal to move the library to the Market Street parking deck site.
O'Neil Park's 44-year-old aluminum pool was designed to last 25 years, "so the Band-Aids and duct tape aren't working any more," said Bloomington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Director Jay Tetzloff. "It's about to fail."
If a 20-year bond issue is floated to replace the pool on the city's west side with a $10 million aquatic park, the debt service would be $600,000 annually, said Rasmussen.
Rasmussen will ask the council whether city staff should explore levying a video gambling terminal fee and increasing the utility tax to pay for the bonds.
The city staff calculated a $500 annual fee on each of about 250 video gambling terminals in the city would generate $125,000 annually, and a 12 percent tax increase of gas, electric and water utility services — amounting to an annual increase of $9 per year for a household with an estimated total bill of $150 monthly — would generate $475,000 annually.
The city dedicates annually $2.4 million from motor fuel taxes and $2.4 million from the local sales tax for street and sidewalk improvements.
To increase the $4.8 million total by another $2.3 million, Rasmussen is asking the council to approve looking into raising the local motor fuel tax from 4 cents to 8 cents per gallon.
The Downtown Task Force recommendations include: potential changes to parking; allowing businesses to use the public right-of-way for outdoor dining or sidewalk sales; supporting a Main Street Corridor Plan to pursue state and federal funding, installing public restrooms and recycling bins; and adopting zoning changes that support development consistent with a downtown district.
Rasmussen plans to present a fiscal 2019 budget to the council on Feb. 26