Before Bloomington's three city manager finalists met with the public at city hall Tuesday, they met with the media to lay out their visions for the city.
Whoever becomes city manager will be tasked with working with a city council that's not always been cohesive and has at times sparred publicly.
"The city council relationship is really the city council's job. It's really not the city manager's job," said Interim City Manager Steve Rasmussen, one of the three finalists. "The city manager's job is to make sure city staff is cohesive and work well to move forward."
Rasmussen said city staff has provided solutions and suggestions to the council and given the city council greater say in determining what items get placed on the council meeting agendas.
The other finalists, Washington City Administrator Jim Culotta and Decatur City Manager Tim Gleason, said their top priorities would be to build relationships with all elected officials and city staff.
While Rasmussen, 69, has worked with the city for four years and in the interim city manager post for seven months, the other hopefuls have been in their current jobs for three years.
Both Culotta and Gleason assured their intentions of staying in Bloomington long term.
Jim Culotta, 45, said he plans to raise his young family here.
"I think it's an exceptional community," Culotta said. "It's a great place to raise a family, grow a business and I can't think of a better opportunity available."
Gleason, 53, said this wouldn't be a stepping stone for him either.
"The health of the community, the respect the community has in the state of Illinois and I think the Midwest (makes this) a great opportunity," Gleason said. "I don't know where you would go next."
Bloomington has had two city managers in the last 25 years. David Hales left the city manager's post in November to become Joliet's city manager.
Incentives For Businesses
Each of the finalists said they would support using financial incentives, including tax increment financing districts, to lure business.
TIFs, which divert a portion of new property tax revenue generated by a project back into the development, have been a recent focus of the city council as it considers creating a new TIF district along Washington Street east of downtown.
Culotta said each business has its own set of circumstances and that TIFs should be just one option.
"I think it's important to have a very large toolbox of incentives and other means to perhaps address the gaps that may be there that is preventing that business from making an investment," he said.
Gleason stressed that the city must better explain to the public why TIFs are necessary in some cases.
"It's something that in city government we don't necessarily do the best job in telling the story and that I believe is first and foremost," Gleason said.
Rasmussen said the city must communicate with all other taxing bodies who would forego some property tax revenue for the sake of a particular development.
"I know other taxing bodies are very sensitive about that, so when we bring forward a project what we want to do is communciate with all the other taxing bodies and make sure that everybody is on board with the incentives we want to use so it gets the development we want with minimal impact to everyone else," Rasmussen said.
Thirty-one people applied for the Bloomington city manager job. The three finalists have each interviewed with the city council twice and met Tuesday with city staff. The council will meet in closed session next week to review the finalists.
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