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Local Lawmakers, Bloomington Aldermen Exchange Ideas For Capital Project Funding

Baylee Steelman
Rep. Dan Brady, Sen. Bill Brady, an aide to Sen. Jason Barickman and Rep. Keith Sommer meet with the Bloomington City Council to discuss funding for future capital projects in the city.

Local lawmakers met with the Bloomington City Council on Monday to discuss ways to fund future infrastructure projects and other priorities.

As state legislators prepare next year's budget, it's unclear how much funding will be available for the state's 192 municipal governments. State Rep. Keith Sommer, R-Morton, said these meetings help him understand what capital expenditures the General Assembly should prioritize.

"When we do have money become available in the capital plan, we know immediately what projects we can get behind and try to get some funding for. There's lots of requests, and limited dollars even when there is a capital plan," Sommer said after Monday's legislative work session.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed capital budget for the Illinois Department of Transportation next year is $9.7 billion, including new and continuing infrastructure projects. City officials said that budget does not include any projects for Bloomington in IDOT's list of road and highway project examples.

In addition to two projects already included in IDOT's multiyear spending plan, city officials are lobbying for funding of five other projects on state-maintained roads:

  • Reworking the Main Street/U.S. 51 corridor to make it friendlier to pedestrians and bikes
  • Resurfacing on U.S. 150 (Clinton Street) from Veterans Parkway to Empire Street
  • Reconstruction of Business U.S. 51 (Center Street) from Emerson Street to Locust Street
  • Bridge repairs and other improvements to Business U.S. 51 from Oakland Street to Kentucky Alley
  • Rerouting and other improvements on U.S. 150/Route 9 from Lee Street to Center Street

Lawmakers and aldermen also discussed a potential statewide property tax freeze, which has been considered as one way to dislodge gridlock in Springfield. The city hasn't raised property taxes in six years, but officials worry a statewide freeze would hamstring its largest source of revenue.

Alderman Kim Bray said Bloomington should be exempt from a property tax freeze because the tax hasn't been raised in so many years.

"To group us in with other municipalities that haven't been as careful with taxpayer increases on property taxes ... it seems like it's punishing those who have been good stewards," she said.

Bray said she feels confident in the lawmakers to help Bloomington receive the funding it needs.

State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington; Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; and an aide to Sen. Jason Barickman were also present.

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Baylee Steelman joined us in November 2016. She is a journalism major graduating in May 2018. She mainly covers Bloomington City and Normal Town Council meetings, Unit 5 School Board meetings, produces the weekend News In Review, and helps run GLT events. Baylee also produces and anchors at TV-10, Illinois State University's student TV news station.
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