NORMAL – The coronavirus pandemic left city leaders to prepare for a related financial impact last September, but some revenue streams are performing better than expected.
A conservative budget with cuts and adjustments, coupled with a better-than-expected economic recovery from COVID-19 shutdowns has put the city in good financial shape to enter the next budget cycle, said chief financial officer Andrew Huhn.
“We appear to be in a very good position now,” Huhn said Monday night during a presentation of the city’s annual financial trends and conditions report.
The report is an overview of 35 indicators categorized as positive, negative or unclassified, meaning they do not exhibit a positive or negative trend. Each indicator shows a trend in six categories: community, income, spending, debt service, balance sheet, and financial strategies.
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Huhn said several tax revenues were higher than expected given the pandemic, such as sales tax revenues. Other revenues, such as tax revenues on food and beverages and hotels / motels, two of the industries hardest hit during the pandemic, are underperforming.
Additionally, Huhn said there were financial trends on the horizon, including funding for police and firefighters’ pensions and the health and dental fund.
“This report is extremely valuable to us as it gives us a high level overview of the financial situation of our community,” said Mayor Chris Koos. “It is a very, very valuable document.”
In addition to the Financial Trends Report, city council heard a presentation from Jamie Wilkie, partner at Lauterbach & Amen CPA, on the city’s annual financial statements and audit report.
The city received an unmodified or no conclusions audit opinion, Wilkie said.
Social media comments
A normal business owner confronted a city councilor during public comments on a series of social media posts following a meeting on August 17.
Julie Hile, co-owner of Normandy Village, said Councilor Stan Nord “made a series of false statements” about her and her partner, Bob Broad, regarding their “actions and intentions” for the village.
“The efforts of board member Stan Nord to discredit us and distort our actions and intentions for Normandy Village are disappointing because they do not serve the public good,” Hile said Monday night during public comments.
Broad told the Pantagraph on Wednesday that the couple wanted to respond publicly to Nord’s social media posts, which were both made in video and written online on their public Facebook page.
The comments were made with reference to a zoning change from August to the development of the One Normal Plaza planned unit, where the village of Normandy is located.
Broad said that while they supported the amendment, the social media posts included “multiple versions of misrepresentation,” including part of the amendment that would allow a catering establishment to open in the area.
“We were amazed at how many misrepresentations there were both in the video and in the written portion of it,” Broad said. “I think Mr. Nord saw an opportunity for political gain by upsetting and scaring (ONP’s) neighbors, and he took it.”
Nord said he was unsure of Hile’s concerns about his comments, but “people should listen to recorded testimony” from two previous meetings regarding the ONP zoning amendment.
“All I have done is state what they have testified publicly and what is being recorded,” Nord told the Pantagraph on Tuesday.
Three board members responded to concerns expressed by Hile during her public comment: Chemberly Cummings, Kathleen Lorenz and Kevin McCarthy.
McCarthy and Lorenz both said they were concerned about the nature of social media posts.
“My heart won’t let me shut up,” Cummings said. “I know that sometimes a comment from one of the podium is a reflection of that podium, and in this case, I don’t want to be associated with those kinds of comments.”
Bloomington-Normal business openings and closings
Sugar Mama Bakery
Car wash on track
Panda Express Restaurant
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Construction of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant
Contact Sierra Henry at 309-820-3234. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_sierrahenry.
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