NORMAL — Though Normal City Council members expressed support this week for wide-reaching budget cuts, they had reservations along the way.
In addition to the items now on the chopping block — including 20 jobs, the Bone Grant program and the Normal police substation on Orlando Avenue — officials considered a broad range of cuts, some more seriously than others patch a $4.5 million budget deficit.
Some were trade-offs: while drop-off and electronics recycling could be discontinued, officials are hopeful third parties will step in to save them.
City Manager Mark Peterson said a private company has contacted the town about hosting drop-off recycling, though the town could get $70,000 for selling off the truck and bins it uses for that program instead.
Normal also has asked Bloomington and McLean County to help fund electronics recycling. The town is constructing a $70,000 building for that program that Peterson said could be used for something else if it ends.
"We know those electronic devices will be deposited somewhere. We'll have to (dispose of them) another way, which may be expensive," said Peterson.
Though council members signed off on ending town funding for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day banquet, Bloomington has a piece of that event as well and could step in. Members said they hope to partner with, and possibly pay some amount to, Illinois State University, which hosts its own MLK event.
Some members at Thursday's council budget work session pushed for the town to stop printing its quarterly Normal Newsline newsletter, but others pushed back and led the council to decide to continue its publication on an annual basis.
"We remove the opportunity to force somebody to touch the town of Normal," said council member Jeff Fritzen of ending Newsline.
Council member Kathleen Lorenz suggested cutting the town's $50,000 McLean County Museum of History contribution, as staff suggested, but Mayor Chris Koos defended funding the museum and its outreach program. Koos is the brother of former museum Executive Director Greg Koos.
Members settled on using the town's travel and training budget as a sort of reserved fund if other cuts don't materialize. That budget now is $125,000.
"I'm confident that we can shave $25,000 without having a real adverse impact," said Peterson. "We typically don't spend as much as we budget."
Peterson also suggested cutting the town's contribution to Uptown Partners, an alliance of business owners in the lucrative district, but the council didn't pursue that as an option.
The town also plans to stop contributing to PATH (Providing Access To Help) Crisis Center's housing rehab program and halve the Harmon Arts grants.
Cuts proposed by town staff but not discussed Thursday included:
- Youth Intervention Program for at-risk teens, $104,280
- Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council contribution, $100,000
- Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies certification, $97,317
- Bike Share 309 program, $85,000
- Code enforcement officer position, $80,500
- Parks and recreation program guide, $40,000
- Ecology Action Center contribution, $38,000
- Marcfirst uptown cleanup event, $25,000
- Strategic planning facilitator contract, $18,000
- Human resources position, cost not listed