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BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington city budget will be revised slightly upward, to $214.1 million, to reflect nearly $296,000 in new grants for renovating housing, the City Council was told Monday.

Prior to a public hearing on Bloomington's proposed fiscal 2018 budget of $213.8 million, Finance Director Patti-Lynn Silva said the city needs to add the money from two Illinois Housing Development Authority grants received after the budget was posted last month.

The city will use the additional money to pay for fixing up low-income, single-family housing and cleaning up abandoned lots.

The added grants mean the budget now will be 3.1 percent — about $6.5 million — higher than the fiscal 2017 adopted budget. The increase, which had been $6.2 million, is being covered in part by drawing from various funds that have accumulated reserves, city officials said. 

The budget is expected to be voted on April 10.

In what Silva described as a "housekeeping" move, the latest version of the budget shows a slightly lower increase in the general fund. It will increase $519,965 to $105.3 million — a 0.4 percent increase from this year; the increase had been $635,391, which would have taken the general fund to $105.4 million next year — a 0.61 percent increase.

The general fund, which is the city's main operating fund, makes up 49 percent of the budget. 

"I want to thank all of the staff because this budget reflects $2 million in cuts that every department has made on their own," said Ward 5 Alderman Joni Painter. "I know that was really difficult to do, and I want to express my appreciation."

Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black said he opposes a provision in the budget to spend $300,000 to enlarge the sewer serving the Grove on Kickapoo Creek subdivision in east Bloomington. Black said he would rather see the money spent in the city's historic core neighborhoods where residents have been waiting much longer for sewer upgrades.

"I think we've got to be careful that we're one team up here and not ward-oriented," said Ward 9 Alderman Jim Fruin. "I think if we start looking at neighborhood issues, ward issues we're only going to be headed down the wrong path.

"Let's be careful that we don't pull the plug on things we've debated and approved in the past."

"What I hear Scott saying and what I've heard other aldermen say is that we need to take care of what we've got, and taking care of what we've got is looking at what's been neglected for many, many years," said Ward 6 Alderman Karen Schmidt.

Bloomington resident Donna Boelen said she is concerned about the ability of people with low or fixed incomes to pay increased city fees.

"From my playbook, the quality of life is directly related to the cost of living," she said.

The proposed budget also includes $24 million in infrastructure spending and other capital projects, including $5 million for street resurfacing. 

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Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @pg_nagle

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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