To the editor:
Christmas came early this year, for the Bloomington City Council, that is.
At the end of a year where the pandemic is still raging and our local economy remains in precarious shape, Bloomington residents got slapped with another 2.75% property tax levy increase, which will go straight to the burgeoning coffers at Bloomington Civic Plaza.
In 2016, the tax levy was $52.8 million. In just six years, this will have ballooned to $68.3 million, a 29.3% increase. Last year, Mayor Tim Busse and the City Council had a rare instance of common sense, and appointed a nine-member resident group to suggest areas to freeze expenses and hold down spending.
But for 2022, we are back to business-as-usual with an unnecessary tax levy increase that will hurt those most who can afford it the least: people of color, immigrants and retirees – the very people our City Council and mayor purport to care about the most.
The justification is always the same: It is the smallest levy increase of surrounding cities, or we need more money for public safety. And yet, the discussion never comes around to reasonably reducing spending. There is no shortage of areas to trim at a city hall addicted to our tax dollars.
To be sure, no one is suggesting cutting public safety spending. What we do see is a need to reasonably combine functions between departments, do some outsourcing, keep salaries in line with the private sector, and reduce payroll through retirements and attrition.
Instead, in 2022 there is $600,000 of new spending for “strategic initiatives.” The communications budget will nearly double from $175,000 to almost $300,000. Additional headcount is proposed to monitor manufactured crises like earned sick leave, a ploy that will certainly result in layoffs, and conversion therapy, which is not even happening in Bloomington according to Mollie Bousu, chair of our infamous Human Rights Commission.
So, as always, the well-off will do fine, but those struggling in our community will bear the brunt of these regressive tax policies. Merry Christmas.