The Normal Town Council passed Monday what some council members are calling the most difficult budget they've seen in their careers.
Council member Chemberly Cummings compared Normal's new budget to a typical household making spending decisions.
"We made some adjustments, and that's with anything. Even our personal budgets. Your bills get higher, you make adjustments. You eat out less, you take less vacations, you cut some of the frills," Cummings said.
Spending cuts include 25 jobs, arts grants, the Martin Luther King Jr. banquet and a police substation. Cummings said the MLK Day Banquet will likely be replaced with an activity that will impact the community more so than a dinner.
The goal was to close next year's expected $3 million deficit in the town's budget, created by revenue loss from the Metro Zone agreement, the state taking more income tax money from cities and towns, and several other factors.
Meanwhile, residents of Normal will soon pay more for water and sewer service.
As part of discussion before passage of the budget, council member Kathleen Lorenz voiced concern with the water rate hike because of the several other increases for residents. Council member Jeff Fritzen said deferring fee hikes will only hurt residents in the future.
"You can't go extended periods of time, and I know you're not suggesting that ... but I think it just makes it easier to take another year off a year from now," Fritzen said.
Council members say delaying incremental fee increases will leave residents with larger price hikes later. The average household will pay about $11 more per year, or 90 cents per month, for water beginning April 1.
Residents of Normal will have to start paying pay water bills every month. Current billing is every two months.
Town Council member Kevin McCarthy said residents are struggling to budget a bill that doesn't come every month. Lorenz and Scott Preston voted against the change. Preston said it will cost an additional $136,000 a year for the town to do monthly billing. Preston said that is not good for taxpayers.
GOP Chair Candidate?
Preston said Monday he is still undecided whether to run for McLean County Republican Party chair. Chuck Erickson said he isn't seeking re-election.
Preston said he's interested in the job but hasn't come to a decision yet.
Editor's note: GLT General Manager R.C. McBride is a Normal Town Council member.
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