BLOOMINGTON — The city's largest budget ever — a revised $227.5 million spending plan for the fiscal year beginning May 1 — won unanimous approval Monday from the City Council.
The aldermen also voted unanimously to delay for two weeks voting on creating a separate asphalt and concrete fund. While it is intended by the city administration to provide better transparency for how money restricted to maintaining and repairing streets and sidewalks is spent, aldermen want clarification on what it will and will not pay for.
While the adopted fiscal 2020 budget is $17.4 million higher than this year's budget of $210.1 million, "a large part of that is an increase in infrastructure spending," said Gleason. "We're trying to catch up."
Capital improvement expenses for streets; sewers; storm water and water systems; facilities; and equipment purchases are increasing from $26.6 million in fiscal 2019 to more than $40 million next year.
That's a $13.5 million increase in capital projects over this year, Gleason noted.
The city had previously proposed a budget of $221.6 million for fiscal 2020, which begins May 1, but that amount was revised to reflect additional revenue from a new $500 annual licensing fee for each video gambling machine in the city and doubling the local motor fuel tax to 8 cents per gallon, both of which were approved last month, and other accounting measures.
The new concrete and asphalt fund would collect money from the two revenue sources designated specifically for street-related concrete and asphalt projects: an estimated $4.6 million a year from the local motor fuel tax and another $2.3 million a year that represents a quarter of the revenue generated by the city's 1 percent home rule sales tax increase approved in fiscal 2016.
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"We specifically passed a gas tax with the context that this would be (used) to do concrete and asphalt work; not historic preservation work, not brick work because those kinds of repair and replacement of brick streets is much more expensive," said Ward 9 Alderman Kim Bray. "And while we may make a decision sometime in the future to take that on, that's not what this gas tax was about."
Ward 4 Alderman Amelia Buragas disagreed.
"I think a point of contention is brick streets and the brick streets master plan," said Buragas, noting the council approved the plan but never funded it.
"I think it would be appropriate for us to keep the door open for future councils to say whether or not they want to consider the local motor fuel tax as a source of funding for that plan," she said. "I don't want to see us have to increase revenue in other areas to pay for that plan."
Aldermen Mboka Mwilambwe of Ward 3 and Karen Schmidt of Ward 6 had questions about whether fixing potholes and extending the life of streets using pavement preservation methods will be paid for with the concrete and asphalt fund.
"There was a variety of opinions (from the aldermen) so we'll find a spot to land where the majority can support (it) and bring it back on April 22," said City Manager Tim Gleason.