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Bloomington council opts to keep tax rate steady, may vote on cannabis Dec. 16
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BLOOMINGTON

Bloomington council opts to keep tax rate steady, may vote on cannabis Dec. 16

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Snowplow

A city of Bloomington snowplow spreads salt on West Market Street on Jan. 22, 2019. The City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve the purchase of rock salt through a joint purchasing requisition through the Illinois Department of Central Management Services in the amount of $782,839, up from the $397,838 budgeted amount because of a recent salt shortage caused by some natural disasters.

BLOOMINGTON —

While not on this week's meeting agenda, City Manager Tim Gleason said the council will look at local regulations related to the legalization of recreational cannabis at its Dec. 16 meeting, but he doesn't think there is council support now for allowing businesses to have onsite cannabis consumption.

The council voted unanimously to keep the combined property tax rate for the levy supporting the city and public library unchanged or close to last year's rate of $1.3447 per $100 equalized assessed evaluation.

The resulting property tax bill for the combined levy, payable in 2020, is expected to remain essentially unchanged at about $736 for a house valued at $165,000.

The $25.45 million combined levy is projected to generate additional revenue of $225,000 for the city and an additional $64,000 for the public library because there has been a 1.3 percent increase in the EAV, which is based on the total taxable value of properties in the city.

The council was not asked to alter its public safety pension funding level, but that could change after next year, Gleason said.

Bloomington not seeking property tax rate hike

"We are still funding public safety pensions at 100 percent," Gleason told The Pantagraph last week, but added the state's consolidation of downstate public safety pension funds will drive future discussions.

Next Monday, the city staff will present for council approval several options for regulating the sale of cannabis, including allowing onsite cannabis consumption at state-licensed dispensaries, which has been supported by the city's planning commission.

"The conversations that I have had up to this point is that I don't think there is enough support for that to get approved, but the elected officials have been doing an excellent job of talking behind the scenes, trying to figure out what compromise is acceptable, and we'll see next Monday," said Gleason.

Under changes made in November to a new Illinois law that takes effect Jan. 1, dispensaries and special smoke shops will be the only places people 21 and older can publicly use cannabis outside of their homes. Municipalities can opt out of that provision or out of allowing the sale of cannabis.

Ward 6 Alderwoman Jenn Carrillo urged her council colleagues to take the lead to become the first Illinois city to allow onsite cannabis consumption.

"I think right now the public has invested a lot of time and energy in giving their opinion on this issue and we should make good on that end, vote to move forward and let's try to make it as just as possible," she said. "That includes, for me, onsite consumption."

Ward 9 Alderwoman Kim Bray, who previously has raised concerns about allowing the sale of cannabis and related businesses, urged a more cautious approach.

"At this juncture I think we need to go carefully to preserve the treasure that is our community," said Bray. "So I look forward to having some more discussion about that."

Currently, the city has no state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary, but under the new law it could initially be eligible for up to two recreational dispensaries licensed by the state.

In other action Monday night, the council:

• Voted unanimously to approve the purchase of rock salt through a joint purchasing requisition through the Illinois Department of Central Management Services in the amount of $782,839, up from the $397,838 budgeted amount because of a recent salt shortage caused by some natural disasters.

• Voted unanimously to award a $506,078 contract to lowest bidder Henson Robinson Company to replace the roof and upgrade the heating, ventilation and cooling systems at the city-owned Creativity Center, 107 E. Chestnut St.

The project is being paid for with funds that were privately raised, said Gleason.

• Voted unanimously to allow liquor service in an outdoor beer garden at Eric's Too, 921 Maple Hill Road, but with some restrictions, including banning any amplified sound in the beer garden.


Photos: Revolution Cannabis in Delavan

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

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