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Aldermen expected to adopt revised $227.5 million budget for Bloomington
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Aldermen expected to adopt revised $227.5 million budget for Bloomington

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A worker for United Contractors Midwest removes a manhole cover on Main Street north of Front Street on Friday, April 5, 2019, as part of a downtown paving project. The projects included Front Street from Madison to East streets, Center Street from Washington to Front streets and Main Street from Washington to Front streets. 

BLOOMINGTON — The city's proposed fiscal 2020 budget is increasing to $227.5 million to reflect additional revenue from a new video gambling machine fee, doubling the local motor fuel tax and other accounting measures.

The revised figure is an 8.3 percent increase over this year's budget of $210 million. The city had previously proposed a budget of $221.6 million for next year.

The City Council will consider adopting the revised fiscal 2020 budget when it meets at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

"Changes that occur between the proposed and adopted budgets can relate to accounting re-classifications, council actions, and allocations of fund balance from the 2019 budget for projects that will not get completed by April 30th," said city finance director Scott Rathbun.

The council on March 25 voted to increase the motor fuel tax from 4 cents to 8 cents and to create a new $500 annual licensing fee for each video gambling machine in the city. Both measures take effect May 1.

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Workers resurface streets on April 5, 2019, in downtown Bloomington.

The general fund, which accounts for most operating expenses, will increase by 4.6 percent — from $104.2 million this year to $109.1 million for the fiscal year beginning on that date.

The general fund increase accounts, in part, for a reorganization related to the billing of water services, said Rathbun.

"We want to manage that function under the finance department and finance is the general fund," he said.

City officials said that change already was in the works before the city recently discovered that businesses had been incorrectly billed for fire protection for nearly 10 years, resulting in the loss of more than a $1 million.

The fire protection charge comes from the city's water department, which was consolidated into the public works department in October. The monthly fee is based on the diameter of the water line that serves a business's internal fire suppression system. 

Also on Monday, the council will consider an ordinance establishing a separate capital improvement asphalt and concrete fund to track money restricted to  maintaining and repairing city streets and sidewalks.

That is intended "to provide more transparency on the dollars coming in and the use of it," said Rathbun.

The money in the new fund includes revenue from the current 4-cent local motor fuel tax, the 4-cent increase and 0.25 percent of the city's 1 percent home rule sales tax increase approved in fiscal 2016.

Those revenue sources are expected to generate $2.3 million each for street and sidewalk repairs.

The city has purchased a domain name, bloomingtonstreets.com, in anticipation of creating a standalone website to provide transparency about how the money dedicated to street repairs is spent.

"The community will see revenue in, expenses out," said City Manager Tim Gleason.

The website also will provide locations of street projects and their start and completion dates for each construction season, said Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus.

With about 250 video gambling machines, the city anticipates the $500 fee per terminal will generate $125,000 in additional revenue to be earmarked for improvements of city public safety buildings, said Rathbun.

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The collar for a manhole is lifted off its placement in pavement at Main Street north of Front Street on Friday, April 5, 2019, as a worker for United Contractors Midwest directs the operation.

In other action, the council will consider a contract, not to exceed $35,000, with Houseal Lavigne & Associates to conduct a study related to a 40-year-old R-3B (multiple-family residence district) zoning provision that allows densities of up to 70 dwellings per acre.

The Bloomington Planning Commission asked the council to study how allowing that type of high-density housing could affect historic residential neighborhoods, especially those near downtown, after some residents raised the issue during public hearings related to revising the city's zoning code. 

The city already has paid the Chicago-based consulting firm more than $125,000 to assist in rewriting the zoning ordinance the council adopted on March 11. 

Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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