The Town of Normal could face some financial challenges in coming years.
Presenting the latest Financial Trend and Condition Report, town staff highlighted flat to decreasing revenue in several areas during Tuesday's Normal Town Council meeting.
Financial pressures on the town's budget include:
- Police and fire pension levels, largely the result of continued "lack of a meaningful investment return from the market." Pension funds are primarily funded through investment earnings.
- Decline in overall sales tax, including a new collection fee recently passed in Springfield
- Loss of $1.2 million after Bloomington pulled out of the Metro Zone tax-sharing agreement
Town officials said Tuesday the town even faces declining utility tax revenue, caused by both seasonal forces (like mild winters and summers) but also more permanent changes. Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn said these changes are likely to continue as people move away from cable and landline telephones.
Overall utility tax revenue has declined each year since 2014, including a 5.2 percent drop in the 2017 fiscal year, according to the Financial Trend and Condition Report released Tuesday.
“I think it’s very likely that we’ll continue to see those trends. Eventually everyone will have a cell phone and not a landline. It’s likely we’ll continue to see those trends in utility taxes,” said Huhn.
The report also highlighted some positive trends, including a low unemployment rate. The Bloomington-Normal area's jobless rate fell to 4.5 percent in July, among the lowest for any metro area in Illinois.
Normal Mayor Chris Koos recently told GLT that the town's next budget could be its leanest in a decade.
"It may mirror back to what we did in 2008 when the recession hit. We may have to make some hard choices on programs," Koos said in July on GLT's Sound Ideas.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, council members approved a plan to educate motorists about the law covering pedestrians in the crosswalk.
Koos said the town will put signs in crosswalks on several streets reminding them to stop. Raab Road at the Constitution Trail, Shelbourne Drive, and Willow Street are among the intersections in the current plan.
“It’s just getting people used to what is actually the law. Frankly, some people are already doing that, but a lot aren’t,” said Koos.
Koos said the town may add signs to more intersections later.
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