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Normal Town Council: Steady & Strong Town Finances, Sustainability Goals and $360,000 for Parking Cameras

Written by on September 21, 2023

NORMAL, Ill.- The Normal Town Council held their second council meeting of the month on September 18.

With strong numbers on the books, the Normal Town Council presented Monday their fiscal year financial trend and condition report, which showed positive growth and outlooks for the town of Normal.

Though last year’s report showed positive trends at that time, the Director of the Finance Department for the town Andrew Huhn presented how the town continues to improve financially in nearly all aspects, including tax revenues, assessed values of residential properties, workforce growth, and many other areas of focus.

While the previous year had strong growth following the pandemic, Huhn explained to the council that this year showed greater numbers than previously recorded, such as the estimated assessed value of homes rising 14% for newly built dwellings, while existing homes rose 12% overall. Overall employment for the area continued to rise, with a 3.28% growth from last year, resulting in a workforce of 88,860 for the area.

One notable area of growth observed over the year was the surge in Amtrak usage, which previously saw a decrease in ridership as riders maintained weariness due to the pandemic and hybrid work situations. The town this year saw a 73% growth in rider usage for Amtrak.

The single metric which saw a decline in activity was a 9.5% decline in construction permits issues, which Huhn explained could indicate an early sign of a recessionary market to come, due to less businesses and homeowners being able to spend funds on optional remodels or projects.

Huhn added though that since the town maintains large savings and consistent cash flows, it should be able to weather any form of downturn in the near future.

During the meeting, the council approved a proposal from the Normal Police Department to award a $360,000 five year contract for license plate reading cameras. The contract with Georgia-based Flock Safety follows a year-long trial period where the city tested the use of such cameras in the area.

The council also revisited the town’s Vision 2050 plan during the meeting, which focuses on sustainability for the town. The plan initially brought confusion to a few members of the council for its non-specific language, with both council members Kathleen Lorenz and Chemberly Harris unsure if the plan was about a different sustainability plan or the Vision 2050 plan.

Mayor Chris Koos stated how the plan claims broad goals and statements, but focuses on subjects such as environmental, economic, and social well being for the town.

The plan will be carried out by Normal-based Hile Group, which will be given $87,000 to be used to connect with citizens and public focus groups and review what the town has accomplished since the last sustainability update in 2010.

The town will also modernize the parking decks in Normal following a $300,000 approval to upgrade parking deck pay stations. The program would use mobile phone based payment in tandem with the previous approval of license plate reader cameras to record vehicles entry and exit times. The app named Passport which would be used to pay, is already in use at Illinois State University pay stations.

In other business, the council:

  • Gave the go-ahead to the future Archer apartment complex which will be located at Raab and Linden avenue. The council passed numerous routine items related to the property, including annexation and rezoning.
  • Met with Illinois State University Students in a civic engagement meet and greet event prior to the meeting. Many of the students continued to stay in attendance through the council meeting.

The town’s next council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on October 2, 2023.