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Normal Ends Fiscal Year With Lower Reserves

Two girls speak to the Normal Town Council
Charlie Schlenker
Israeli and Arab high school students address the Normal Town Council as part of a visit from Friends Forever, a group promoting understanding amid ethnic conflicts.

The Town of Normal ended its fiscal year June 30, with reserves down by $1.8 million.

Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn told the Town Council on Monday night that reserves are still close to recommended levels.

"We started the year for 17-18 at $11.4 million of fund balance. We were expecting to have a deficit. We burned that down about $1.8 million, which is better than expected. We started this fiscal year with about $9.6 million of fund balance," said Huhn. 

Huhn said the reserve is close to the town's targeted 15 percent of the budget, and the town ended the fiscal year at expected fund levels.

Huhn said the drop came after some savings partly offset reduced general revenue of $2.8 million.

"And that is all entirely the result of us dropping back our projections of local sales tax, state sales tax, income tax. Income tax mostly came from the 10 percent haircut we received from the state last year. And also, the Metro Zone money is entirely out of the budget," said Huhn.

The Metro Zone was an agreement between Normal and the City of Bloomington to share revenue and capital expenses in an area on the west side. The city abrogated that agreement.

Huhn said the state is also proposing a permanent reduction in shared income tax money.

The town's entire budget last fiscal year was about $132.2 million. 

He said notable savings going forward include more than $1 million a year in reduced costs from refinancing a $10 million bond issue, and saving several hundred thousand dollars by paying Portillo's restaurant its development incentive early instead of over a period of years with 8 percent interest. 

Huhn said Portillo's sales revenue significantly exceeded projections. The restaurant will still have to succeed for several years for the town to recoup its development incentive, said Huhn.

The owner of the One Uptown Circle building withdrew a request before the council meeting to change the development agreement to lower the size of restaurant that is required to go into the ground floor. The developer has been losing out on food and beverage tax rebates by the lack of a restaurant.

City Manager Pam Reece said the developer did not immediately share the reason for withdrawing the request for a change in the agreement.

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