Council Briefing: Bloomington Approves Small Tax Levy and more

Council Briefing Bloomington Chief Heffner.JPG

Council Briefing

December 11, 2017

No major tax increases as Bloomington works toward improvement goals

At its December 11th meeting, the Bloomington City Council focused on property tax levies and reports on emergency services.

Unlike the Town of Normal, Bloomington’s Tax Levy saw little change. The City of Bloomington did not increase their local tax levy, however, The Bloomington Public Library did increase their property Tax Levy slightly. The resulting increase in the library's tax levy will impact the average homeowner by only $4.17 annually.

Library director Jeannie Hamilton explained that the levy increase of $140,493, would be transferred to the Capital Reserve Fund for the expansion of library services.

The tax levies received a unanimous “yes” vote.

The City Council also adopted an ordinance that amends the city code regarding the process for disposing of abandoned bicycles. The amendment was prompted by a bicycle in poor condition that was left chained in Downtown Bloomington for several months.

Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner spoke about the procedures, explaining that bikes deemed salvageable are repaired by a charity organization and then donated. The procedures are different for abandoned vehicles. The funds from the sales are directed to the General Fund.

Improving Police and Emergency Services:

Chief Heffner also discussed the Bloomington Police Department’s Three-Year Strategic Plan, which includes: “identifying and resolving crimes rather than just responding to them,” continued involvement in youth intervention programs, implementing special Downtown patrols, obtaining body cameras for the entire force, and acquiring the best data management solutions for new technologies.

Chief Heffner also stated that the Strategic Plan has a “Correlation to President Trump’s 21st Century Policing Initiative,” most of which the BPD had already implemented. The BPD will also work to further diversify the police force and conduct topic-driven citizens’ summits in different areas of the community.

Bloomington Fire Chief Jason Moore was also present to discuss the goal of reducing emergency response times--one of the city’s top five priorities. A November 2016 tax levy provided the BFD with $545,000 to improve response times. They have a goal to reduce response times to fewer than six minutes for 90% of calls.

Chief Moore’s data showed an improvement in response times but said an issue with Unit-Hour Utilization (UHU) remains. He believes an additional ambulance at headquarters, as well as six more paramedics, would assist in reducing response times.