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Bloomington plans to increase roadwork spending in next annual budget

The city of Bloomington plans to increase spending on roadwork in the next budget year, based partly on better than expected revenue projections.
Emily Bollinger
The City of Bloomington plans to increase spending on roadwork in the next budget year, based partly on better than expected revenue projections.

Bloomington city officials say they want to significantly boost the city's spending on roadwork next year. The city has started its annual budget planning.

Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus said tax revenue is up and the public has said road improvements should be a priority.

“Even though we’ve had a significant increase in what we are spending over the last several years, we believe that we can fund more,” Tyus said in an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas.

Billy Tyus
WGLT file photo
Billy Tyus

Last year, the city spent about $7.2 million on roadwork. Tyus said the city might aim for $10 million this year, pending council approval. Tyus said the city's revenue growth should cover the cost without reducing services.

Through the first eight months of the budget year, revenue is about $7.2 million ahead of budget projections, according to a presentation city finance director Scott Rathbun gave the council last week. The city's income tax money is 35% ahead of target, based on totals through the end of 2022. The food and beverage tax up 24%. Sales tax and utility tax revenue are pacing 9% ahead.

Tyus noted the city is cautious about how much of its revenue growth is temporary. “We want to be careful to not assume that this is a continuing trend. We hope, but we don’t know for sure,” he said.

Tyus added some of that revenue growth might be offset by higher costs, such as for fuel, equipment, utilities and water treatments.

The city council is expected to adopt a budget in April for the next fiscal year that starts May 1.

Lobbyist denied

The City of Bloomington also plans to reassess some large-scale projects now that the city council has rejected hiring a Washington, D.C., lobbyistto help secure federal funding.

Tyus said the city has a list of road and water system projects that will require federal dollars.

“Having some assistance in navigating that large, sometimes unwieldy system is something that we felt like and feel like we need,” Tyus said.

The city's water master plan, adopted in 2020, calls for $152 million in upgrades.

City council members who voted against the lobbyist said state and federal lawmakers and municipal groups already are advocating for the city.

City priorities

The city council has laid out six priorities for the city: infrastructure, older community revitalization, economic development, housing diversity, service delivery, and public safety.

Tyus said city staff plans to develop a list of priority projects to focus on based on the council directive, but also will highlight the work already done in those areas.

“There are a number of things in these categories that we and cities are doing day to day, but sometimes we need to do a better job of telling the story of what we are already doing,” Tyus said.

Last week, the city council approved the priority list that was developed at a retreat last fall.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.