Bloomington and Normal budgeting cautiously amidst economic uncertainty

Local News

BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — It’s spring budget planning season and community leaders in the Twin Cities are looking at how to develop a plan amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

We don’t know how much COVID-19 will impact tax revenue, income and spending in the future.

That’s why community leaders in Bloomington-Normal are approaching the spring budget-making process with caution.

Many communities across the country are feeling the financial hit of COVID-19.

But right now, neither Bloomington or Normal are changing the look of their 2021 budget proposed before the outbreak started.

“Until we can actually start receiving revenue and seeing what kind of economic impact this has on our revenue streams everything we’re doing is just modeling and forecasting,” said Normal City Manager Pamela Reece.

Normal’s budget went into effect April first. Since then they are deciding to stop hiring new employees.

“We have a very large summer employee base so we’ve delayed hiring our seasonal positions at this point because we want to see how this plays out,” said Reece.

Bloomington’s 2021 budget starts May first and even with the dip in sales tax, many of the projects in Bloomington planned to carry-over to the spring are still moving forward.

City Manager in Bloomington Tim Gleason says it’s possible because of other tax revenues and funds.

“Those revenues from a water bill, the sewer portion or local motor fuel tax are captured in a separate fund,” said Gleason. “We have an unobligated cash reserve of $22 million, it’s precisely for these types of unexpected events.”

The full impact COVID-19 will have on local governments isn’t known, but Gleason says their forward planning will get them through these times.

“We’re no different than any other community as far as impact on small business, but we are in a decent position as a community and we know that can change and we’ve got a plan, and we have a backup plan, and a back up to the back up if we need to,” said Gleason.

The Bloomington committee of the whole will meet one last time on Monday before finalizing their 2021 budget.

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