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Bloomington Terminates Metro Zone Agreement

Cristian Jaramillo

The City of Bloomington has officially ended its participation in the Metro Zone with the Town of Normal.

Aldermen voted 7-2 Monday night to approve the move toward a new process of joint collaboration within the Twin Cities. 

Alderman Kevin Lower said the Metro Zone agreement seemed to outdate itself. Lower said aldermen tried to update and amend the deal, but it didn't look like it would happen soon.

Credit Cristian Jaramillo / WGLT
Alderman Kevin Lower speaking about the Metro Zone.

"The best result is to draw an end to this one and look at the future," said Lower. "We're all open to future involvement with both the Town of Normal and the County as well as anyone else that would like to engage us in economic development initiatives."

Lower said dissolving the Metro Zone is a net positive overall. However, documents show the Town of Normal will lose $1.2 million annually.

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said the council had to defend the City's taxpayers. Renner said Bloomington gave the Town $12 million during the deal while the City only received around $5 million. He said all agreements have to be mutual and hopes the Town will realize that in order to work better together.

Aldermen Diana Hauman and Jim Fruin voted against the proposal.

Fruin said there has to be a better way to advance BN Advantage and economic development.

"In the last couple years, we've been a little sideways with each other with regard to relocation of some businesses. That's not good for either community and I just think we have to work for a solution for the good of both communities. I just don't want to give up," said Fruin.

Fruin hopes Normal will be receptive in discussion about future cooperation. He thinks discussion and cooperation is critical for regional economic success.

The Council also took their first look at the FY 2018 Budget during the meeting. The proposed budget of $213.8 million is a 3 percent increase compared to last year. 

The city will hold a public forum to discuss the budget on March 27. 

Mike joined GLT's staff as a student reporter in February of 2016 having worked previously as a reporter at Illinois State University's student radio station, 103.3 WZND. He acted as a director for the WZND newsroom for two years. Mike was also seen as a reporter, producer, and anchor at TV-10 News. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism in May of 2017 before starting his post-graduate career with the Public Affairs Reporting Masters Program at University of Illinois Springfield.
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