By Steve Robinson | September 4, 2018 - 10:14 pm
Posted in Category: News, Normal Town Council

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members received a report on the Town’s annual status and an idea what the Town could be planning for financially in the future, as Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn presented the annual financial trend and condition report. The report was a mix of positive and negative indicators.

Since 2008, Huhn reported, home ownership has been fluctuating slightly but remained fairly stable. The average home price increased in 2017, something which hadn’t happened since 2010, he explained. In 2010, existing homes went for an average of $157,000 but that price rose to over $166,000 last year.

The Town’s transportation report in terms of usage of Amtrak and Central Illinois Regional Airport was mixed, as the report indicated Amtrak ridership at Uptown Station was up for the first time since 2013. The report indicates service disruptions caused by improvements made to the tracks in preparation for high speed rail led to people not wanting to use Amtrak as much during that period. Town staff indicated in the report they believe once high speed rail is fully functioning, ridership levels will again increase.

By contrast, Central Illinois Regional Airport saw what the report called a significant drop in 2017, with 381,109 people jetting out of and into town as opposed to 2016, with only 333,392 flying, a drop of 12.4 percent. The Town’s report pinpoints the cause of the decrease on reductions in “business travel activity.”

The report indicates the Town saw a .5 percent drop in unemployment in 2018 from last year, from 3.9 percent to 3.4 percent. That was in line with similar figures for unemployment at the same time for Bloomington and Springfield. Peoria had the largest drop in unemployed of 0.9 percent. Overall, the State saw a 0.3 decrease in unemployment from last year to this year.

One of the only glaring negatives in the report for the Town centered on pensions for Normal’s Police Department and Fire Department retirees. The report indicated a slight increase in retirement funding level for NPD, which the report indicates hasn’t happened since 2014. NFD saw its first increase in funding a year later. The report said the Town remains cautious, adding many communities continue to wrestle with providing such funding.

Also on the downturn and of concern to Town officials is a 4.1 percent decrease in revenue from State income tax. But the 2018 figure fares better compared to the revenue being down 11.3 percent last year, according to the report.

Council Approves Annual Audit Report: Council members started the evening hearing a recap of a recent audit conducted by the Naperville-based Certified Public Accounting firm Lauterbach and Amen. Jamie Wilkey, a partner with that firm, told Council members the Town had what that firm considered “the highest level of preparedness” for the task. Council members unanimously approved a resolution to accept the final audit report by a 6-0 vote as Council Member Chemberly Cummings was not present for the session.

Prosser, Stebel Appointed To Children’s Discovery Museum Board: Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Fritzen announced to the gathering that two new members have been appointed to the Children’s Discovery Museum Board – Theresa Prosser and Mitchell Stebel.

The director of medical surgical services at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Prosser is an adjunct faculty member at Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing and has been involved with and supports a number of numerous community groups. Those include Special Olympics, Relay For Life, Heart Walk, Community Health Clinic and United Way. She and her husband live in Bloomington and have three children.

Stebel is vice president for commercial banking at Busey Bank. He also serves as president of Home Sweet Home Mission Board of Directors. He is also past president of Bloomington-Normal Young Professionals, as well as a member of Sunrise Rotary. He also serves as a coach for youth baseball, basketball, and football.

Prosser and Stebel will each be filling an open seat with terms on the Board that will expire on June 30, 2020.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the work session meeting of Aug. 20, 2018.

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of Aug. 20, 2018.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Aug.29, 2018.

• A resolution to award the bid for the water treatment plant clarifier No. 2 recoating project to Troy, Ill.-based RP Coatings, Inc. at a total cost of $447,860.

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