Bloomington OKs Property Tax Levy, More Money For Monkey Exhibit | WGLT

Bloomington OKs Property Tax Levy, More Money For Monkey Exhibit

Dec 7, 2020

The Bloomington City Council voted Monday night to approve a property tax levy for the 2020 fiscal year, totaling an estimated $25.6 million that will result in no change in the property tax rate. 

The levy includes financing for both the city and the Bloomington Public Library. 

The tax rate is expected to remain $1.090 per $100 assessed valuation.

The council also authorized $31,919 in additional construction funds to the De Brazza’s Monkey exhibit at Miller Park Zoo. The change order to the initial contract with N. Zobrist Construction for $534,015 comes after two issues arose during construction. Site excavation revealed large chunks of cement and brick in the soil beneath the exhibit that will cost $20,339 to redress. Additionally, concrete blocks in the exhibit need to be upgraded to match those in the flamingo exhibit, at a cost of $8,580.

The council also approved future construction change orders not to exceed $18,000.

Council member Donna Boelen voiced displeasure with granting the additional funding, though she did vote in favor of the motion.

“My concern is really that the reason that the money is available is because of deferred projects from this year and that the concern that maybe those deferred projects will not be able to move forward for next year depending on our finances as a result of COVID,” she said.

The De Brazza’s Monkey exhibit set to open in spring as part of the zoo’s 130th anniversary celebration. 

Also at Monday’s remote meeting, live streamed on You Tube, the council voted to deny a liquor license to a business located at 706 Clinton Ave. The owners of the business, which currently operates as Price-Rite Food Mart, had proposed renovating the property and reorganizing the store around the sale of wine and spirits. The business's application for a liquor license was recommended to the council by the Bloomington Liquor Commission, chaired by Mayor Tari Renner.

During public comment, the council heard from residents concerned the new business would undermine safety in the neighborhood. Citing concerns around the store’s proposed evening hours, some residents recalled the 1987 murders at the former S&S Liquors that was located across the street at 703 Clinton Ave.

Council member Julie Emig, who represents Ward 4, told the council she’d fielded several calls and emails from constituents opposed to the liquor license not only for safety reasons, but because the business owners had failed to demonstrate a commitment to the community. The building has been owned by members of the same family for 20 years and Emig said area residents have a longstanding issue with its management.

In other business, the council heard a presentation regarding the city’s planned distribution of a second round of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, totaling $546,000.

Grants coordinator Jennifer Toney said the city received “quite a bit more money in the second round of coronavirus funding than the first,” which has created additional opportunities to offer assistance.

Toney outlined proposed funding in four areas:

-- $25,000 for emergency shelter services to compensate for reduced capacity in shelters and warming centers;
-- $75,000 to cover administrative costs related to the distribution of CDBG funding, including supplies and staffing;
-- Additional funding to residential aid programs; and
-- Expanded funding that will allow “non-essential” businesses like bars and restaurant to apply for $5,000 grants.