BLOOMINGTON — City leaders will cast their first formal vote Monday to adopt or reject a record $251.7 million spending plan for the fiscal year that begins May 1.
If approved by the Bloomington City Council, the proposed 536-page budget will codify a 9.3% total increase from the current $230.3 million FY 2021 budget.
Council members' public judgment of the budget to this point has largely been positive, and many told The Pantagraph this week they expect to vote "yes" on Monday.
"I have looked it over and am satisfied," Ward 2 Ald. Donna Boelen said in an interview.
"I know that people are concerned with the size of the budget, but if you look carefully, a good chunk is going into infrastructure — that's what people want," Boelen said. "We don't have any padded stuff, any shining stuff, any goodies."
Nearly a quarter — $61.3 million — of the proposed budget will go toward funding capital and infrastructure projects, many of which Bloomington has had in the works for years, city finance officials have said.
Previous forecasts had capped that total at $59.9 million, representing a 46.4% increase from the previous budget.
A $1.4 million boost was approved late last month when the council voted 8 to 1 to OK the project management plan, design concept and budget estimate for the renovation of the O'Neil Pool and Park on the city's west side.
The project was earmarked for $10.3 million. It is now estimated to cost $11,812,771, with a 10% contingency.
Also tucked into the capital projects fund is $7.2 million for road repairs, which the council has already authorized, and a $100,000 line item for hiring a consulting firm to evaluate and recommend the best future use of the 47-year-old Market Street parking deck.
The proposed FY 2022 general fund balance, which accounts for 44% of the total budget, is still sitting at $109.1 million. That's a 1.1% decrease from the $110.2 million general fund adopted in FY 2021.
Of the $109.1 million in the general fund, $58.6 million will go toward public safety, while $11.7 million will go toward parks, recreation and cultural arts. Another combined $16.8 million will go toward administrative costs.
City finance officials for weeks have characterized the budget as "flat," explaining how they haven't increased other funds and have been limited by an expected 3.7% loss in revenue, from $96.2 million to $92.6 million in FY 2022.
"I'm supportive of this budget. We've worked the budget, having financial reviews every month and opportunities all the time to have financial discussions," Ward 9 Ald. Kim Bray said in an interview. "The due diligence that has gone into this budget — I'm happy to vote for it."
Ward 5 Ald. Joni Painter also said she would vote in favor of the budget, adding that she doesn't "see any reason why" the vote won't go smoothly.
The budget ultimately needs five votes for it to pass. It must be adopted by April 30, and requires Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner's signature for it to go into effect.
Renner, who only once in his two terms has threatened to veto the city's budget, in an interview said he's "been urged to line-item veto several things," but he doesn't plan to "pick apart" the FY 2022 budget.
He added there "might be a little drama over the police stuff," referencing discussion initiated by Ward 6 Ald. Jenn Carrillo last month over the scope of the police department's budget.
Carrillo in a text message Friday confirmed that she will vote against the budget.
"We certainly can do more (to assess department spending), but again, we should have had those conversations in the summer," Renner said this week. "At this point, this is not the time to have that conversation.
"There's no particular reason for us to go down the rabbit hole with this budget. We're in good shape ... I'm very confident it's going to pass," Renner said, adding that he plans to sign the budget. "Of course, it's not over until it's over."
Pantagraph recap: Here is what was decided in Tuesday's election
Pantagraph recap: Here is what was decided in the April 6 election
A look at key races and the results from Election Day across Bloomington-Normal.
This is continuing coverage of Election Day in Central Illinois. Join us at 11 a.m. Wednesday as Pantagraph journalists talk about the results.
In the race for two seats with six-year terms on the Heartland Community College board, incumbent Rebecca Ropp and former student trustee Joshua Crockett had strong leads over the rest of the field.
Three incumbents will return to the District 87 school board, where they will be joined by newcomer Fitzgerald Samedy.
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Two incumbents and three newcomers were on track Tuesday night to hold seats on the Bloomington City Council, according to unofficial consolidated election results.
If the lead holds, Mwilambwe, 50, will become the city's first Black mayor.
Three new board members will be joining the McLean County Unit 5 school board, but the final tally may not be available until Wednesday morning.
"This wouldn't be just a win for me," Mayor Chris Koos said, declaring victory Tuesday night. "This is a win for the town of Normal because they returned all the incumbents. To me, that says a lot."
Contact Timothy Eggert at (309) 820-3276. Follow him on Twitter: @TimothyMEggert