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In this Jan. 25 file photo, a city of Bloomington worker stops to pick up trash along West Mill and South Livingston streets.


BLOOMINGTON — A proposed fiscal 2019 budget of about $208 million — which is about $6 million less in both revenue and spending than in this year's budget — will go to the City Council for a review on Monday.

The council also will look at and likely vote on options for cutting costs and raising fees for solid waste collection, agreeing to hire a fundraiser for the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts and a one-year moratorium on the addition of any new video gambling terminals within the city.

The fiscal 2018 budget called for $214 million in revenue and spending, and the city previously had been using that same figure for fiscal 2019, which will begin May 1. While the latest fiscal 2019 number is lower, the projected deficit of $2.9 million remains — along with questions about how to close it. 

The reductions are more about a difference in accounting than any changes in revenue and spending from this year's levels, said interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen.

"The amount of real dollars that we're getting in revenue and the amount of real tax dollars that we're spending is about the same as this year," he said. 

"How can that be? It's a $6 million difference. It's different because of municipal accounting." 

The fiscal 2018 budget used about $2.2 million in the city's employee health insurance plan savings and about $3.3 million saved in capital equipment leases and about $700,000 in fund transfers within the budget to pay for some expenditures, he said.

"We're not doing that next year," said Rasmussen. "So, for accounting purposes it's about $6 million less. But in terms of real tax dollars coming in and real tax dollars being spent, it's a status quo budget."

Rasmussen will present the proposed fiscal 2019 budget at the council's regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

To remove the $2.9 million deficit, Rasmussen factored in money coming from six sources, of which five will need council approval to move forward.

Those five proposals, which would raise a total of $2.125 million in revenue, are: $1.1 million from raising solid waste fees and finding cost savings in garbage, bulky waste, brush and leaf collections; $500,000 from a delay in filling some employee positions when they become vacant; $225,000 from increasing fees to cover the true costs of some city services; $200,000 from creating a business registration program and fee; and $100,000 from increasing parking fees when automated access to the municipal parking decks is completed.

Of those, only the solid waste savings are on the council's agenda for Monday. 

Cuts in departments' operating costs would provide the remaining $775,000. They would include reductions in consulting and professional services; police, fire and public works overtime; and equipment purchases.

The city staff has provided three solid-waste options for the council.

The first calls for levying a flat monthly fee of $26 for all users of the city's trash collection service in place of the current graduated fees based on cart sizes. Residents currently pay $16 per month for a 35-gallon trash cart, $21 per month for a 65-gallon cart and $26 per month for a 95-gallon cart. 

The other two options would be to raise the monthly per-cart fees by either $3 or $4 for the two larger carts. 

All three options include a start date of May 1, 2018, and call for annual increases of 3 percent.

Discounts for low-income residents also will remain.

The options also propose various reductions in the frequency of bulk waste collections and consolidating garbage and recycling pickup into two shifts.

A public hearing on the budget is slated for March 12, and the council could approve the budget on April 9. The deadline to adopt the budget is April 30.

In other business, the council will consider a memorandum of understanding with the Friends of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, an independent nonprofit organization that helps raise money for renovations and an endowment fund. 

The agreement calls for the city to hire a fundraiser, which the city refers to as a development manager, and the Friends group to contribute $20,000 toward that person's salary and benefits by April 2020. The annual contribution would increase by $20,000 annually in years 2021, 2022 and 2023, until it is capped at $100,000 a year by April 2024 and in future years.

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle



Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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