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Normal Town Council Meeting – Tax Levy, Grants for the Normal Police Department

Written by on November 10, 2022

NORMAL. Ill.- The Normal Town Council held their first town meeting of the month on November 7, 2022.

Council member Stan Nord began the meeting by highlighted an expense of $10,000 for Normal from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The expense was dated as March of this year, which caught Stan Nord’s attention. City Manager Pamela Reece was unsure of the expense, and stated she would look into it.

On the council’s agenda was the motion to reject bids for a building maintenance project, due to the bids received not being of the scope and expertise which the historic buildings require for maintenance.

Stan Nord’s first concern was if maintenance needed to be done, and if funds could be saved or redirected elsewhere. Pamela Reece stated that the funds have already been budgeted and set aside for maintenance and emphasized the long term consequences related to deferring maintenance of buildings.

Stan Nord also brought up how the competitive bidding process would find contractors to bid on the job for this specific type of work, and how to approach this next bidding process if the previous process did not meet the needs of the city. Pamela Reece stated how Normal has good relations with its contractors, and would perhaps rework the terms of the bid to appear more favorable to future bidders.

Finance Director Andrew Huhn spoke with guest Jamie Wilkey to present the town’s annual financial statements and audit report. The report consists of results given by Lauterbach & Amen CPA firm, which details the clarity and transparency of funds and grants being used within a towns budget. The report seeks to provide a town with an “opinion” score. The highest of these scores being “unmodified”, and to assess the town’s internal control environment.

Normal scored an “unmodified” opinion in this report, receiving some suggestions on how to better report the towns use of leased properties on both the revenue and expense ends. The town also received an “unmodified” opinion for its use on federal grants.

The council passed a renewal of employee group health, dental, life, and Medicare insurance programs, which provides public employees of the town with benefits. Most plans will see a seven percent increase in premiums beginning next year.

The town is planning on moving forward with a property tax levy, which the approval of this proposition only acts as a preliminary approval to the ordinance. Andrew Huhn returned to discuss the details of the ordinance, which would serve as a way to finance funding obligations for police and fire department pensions as well as public works such as the library. The levy would be 10 cents less than the 2022 property tax rate, which is made up for in the increasing assessed value of homes in recent years.

The council is only able to influence and levy about eleven percent of a homeowners property tax, as the remaining percentage is overseen by local organizations such as school districts or the airport.

Normal Chief of Police Steve Petrilli spoke to the council about the approval of a state grant of $500,000 for use by the police department. The one time grant would be used for violence prevention and administrative costs. Petrilli stated that the funds would be used to acquire new technology which the station is unable to acquire with its current budget, and for training and education of staff. While the grant does not need to be paid back by the city, the city will need to state what the funds will be used for to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and would be given a limited time to use the funds thereafter.

Stan Nord spoke on if the funds could be used to meet shortfalls in the current police budget rather than acquiring new equipment, while council members Scott Preston and Kevin McCarthy stated how unpredictable and strenuous policing has become in recent years, and how this grant would help to meet the goals of the police force.

The town’s next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on November 21, 2022.