Budget discussions continue with new advisory committee
I’ve written and spoken about the multi-million-dollar budget shortfall we are facing in Bloomington as a result of COVID-19 and its impact on the local hospitality and retail industries.
In an effort to ensure budget discussions reflect community preferences, the City Council appointed a Community Budget Advisory Committee in May. The advisory committee is made up of nine members who have knowledge of municipal budgets and City government.
Through the coming months, the Community Budget Advisory Committee will engage community members and review the City’s budget and services to provide the Council with recommendations given our budget challenges.
By looking at the overall budget instead of reducing services one by one, the City Council and City staff are aiming to make sure service changes reflect what community members value most.
Earlier this spring, Council and City staff explored the idea of permanently closing Creekside Community Center located at 9801 Penn Avenue South and the Bloomington Motor Vehicle Office at 9930 Logan Avenue South to help with the budget shortage. The City Council gathered community feedback on the two operations via a survey that drew more than 3,000 responses.
In May, the City Council decided to keep Creekside closed temporarily to the public through the end of 2020, due to the heath risks posed by COVID-19 for older adults. Food programs that operate out of Creekside, such as Loaves and Fishes, will be allowed access to the facility for food preparation and distribution. Closing Creekside to the public for the remainder of 2020 is estimated to save the City approximately $390,000 this year.
The City Council also voted to reopen the Motor Vehicle Office in May following Governor Tim Walz’s Stay Safe MN order. The City implemented health and safety measures to keep visitors safe, such as running at 50% capacity with every other counter open. Other safety measures included offering longer transactions, such as getting a Real ID, as appointment-only. Learn more about the new Motor Vehicle operating procedures at blm.mn/motorvehicle or call 952-563-8719 before visiting the office.
The City continues to make changes to its services, operations and programming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary closure of Creekside and modified operations at Motor Vehicle are not permanent budget solutions. The Community Budget Advisory Committee will be taking a holistic look at both facilities when they review the City’s overall budget this summer.