NORMAL – At their regularly-scheduled meeting Monday night, Normal Town Council members were supposed to approve the 2019 tax levy, as other governing bodies have done in recent sessions for the levy to move on to the county clerk’s office. But getting the approval accomplished turned into a tangled discussion concerning, among other things, setting aside enough funds for the Town to hire a communication specialist.

Council Member Kevin McCarthy said he wanted to see the levy altered so that the Town could add money to afford to pay for someone to fill the position of Communication Specialist, a person who would, among numerous duties, serve as a liaison to local media and help Council and Town staff get information out through local media. McCarthy said he would like to see the tax levy amount altered to reflect the Town having the funds to pay for that position. The amount needed for the Communication Specialist’s salary, which McCarthy asked be added to the levy, is $96,834.

Council members approved the levy by a 4-3 count with Mayor Chris Koos, joined by Council Members Kathleen Lorenz, Chemberly Cummings, and McCarthy in favor. Council Members Stan Nord, Karyn Smith, and Scott Preston voting against. The votes sized up in the same manner when Council members voted on a motion by Nord to table voting on the measure until the Council’s next meeting scheduled for Dec. 17.

Projections indicated by the Town show income from the property tax levy would result in the Town taking in $13,055,328. A person with a home costing $165,000 would see an increase of roughly $6 added to their bill. The levy’s total amount before the request to add the communication specialist position into the equation was $12,958,494.

At their first session in November, Council members decided to reduce the dollar amounts that would go in the pension funds of retired police and fire fighters. The Council wanted to maintain the Town’s contribution to that fund to be at 100 percent by 2040, surpassing the mandated 90 percent mark set by the State.

The Town had a Communication Specialist for a few years in the person of Dan Irvin, who came to the Town to fill the post having had experience in a similar position with the former Mitsubishi Motors North America plant on the Town’s west end. Irvin retired from his communication position with the Town earlier this year.

Abatement Of 2019 Property Taxes For Debt Service Approved: By a 6-1 count, Council members approved ordinances authorizing abatement of 2019 property taxes for debt service. Mayor Chris Koos, and Council Members Chemberly Cummings, Kevin McCarthy, Scott Preston, Kathleen Lorenz, and Karyn Smith approved the measure while Council Member Stan Nord voted against it.

A total of $6,204,878 in property taxes for the following bonds were abated as a result of the vote. They included: 2009 bonds issued in July 2009 to repay a 2003 bond; 2009(A) bonds issued in July 2009 (Build America Strong bonds); 2010(A) bonds issued in November 2010 (Recovery Zone bonds); 2012 bonds issued in September 2012 to refund 2004 bonds; 2013 bonds issued in November 2013 to refund 2005 bonds; 2014 bonds issued in November 2014; 2016(A) bonds issued in March 2016 bonds to repay 2006 bonds; 2016(B) bonds issued in March 2016; 2017(A) bonds issued in March 2017 to refund 2007 bonds; 2017(B) bonds issued in March 2017 to refund 2007 bonds; 2018 bonds issued in March 2018 to refund 2008 bonds; 2019 bonds issued in October to partially refund 2009 bonds; and Special Service Area bonds, or SSA bonds, issued in December 2004.

Community Development Block Grant 2020-2024 Draft Presented: Council members were given a brief presentation by Town Associate Planner Taylor Long concerning the Community Development Block Grant draft which citizens will get an opportunity to provide input on at a session scheduled for later this month.

Long explained the draft plans for CDBG will be available for public comment for a 40 day period running from Dec. 3 through Jan. 11. A public hearing on CDBG draft will be held in the café of the Normal Public Library on Tuesday, Dec. 17. During that session, the draft of the CDBG Consolidated plan will be discussed from 5:30p.m.-6:30p.m., followed by a discussion of the 2020-2021 CDBG Action Plan from 6:30p.m.-7:30p.m.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the hearing, but if they can’t may provide written comments to either Town Clerk’s office or to Long by way of email. His email address is: tlong@normal.org.

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

• Approval of minutes of a work session held Nov. 18, 2019.

• Approval of minutes of the regular Council meeting held Nov. 18, 2019.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Nov. 27, 2019.

• A motion to approve the year 2020 Town meeting calendar.

• A resolution requesting permission to close a portion of U. S. Highway 51 for the annual Jaycees Christmas Parade.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with McLean County for centralized booking services.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Bloomington for the police shooting range facility.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Bloomington, McLean County, and the Ecology Action Center for solid waste management services.

• A resolution reapproving the final plat of the resubdivision of outlots 502 and 503 in Constitution Trail Centre Subdivision (H2 Hotel).

• A resolution amending a reciprocal easement agreement for the Hyatt Place Hotel.

• An ordinance modifying Chapter 25 Division 16 – plan review, building, HVAC, electric, sign, and plumbing permit fees (associated with the implementation of the Central Square TRAKiT Software System.

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