Budgeting photo

Community Budget Advisory Committee

The City of Bloomington is facing a multi-million dollar budget shortfall as a result of COVID-19. In an effort to ensure budget discussions reflect community preferences, the City Council appointed a Community Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) in May 2020. 

In September, the committee asked what services matter most to residents. In October the committee presented budget reduction recommendations to the community for comment. The Committee made their final presentation to the City Council on November 9, 2020 and concluded with a brief wrap-up meeting following the presentation.

Documents presented to the City Council on November 9, 2020:

Staff presentations to City Council on the 2021 Tax Levy and Budget:

Community listening sessions

Virtual listening sessions were held in September and October to provide residents and stakeholders the opportunity to share input into the City's budget process and the proposed budget scenarios. 

  • Zoom recording from October 17 listening session

 

Budget reduction options

In the coming weeks, the City Council will be considering three different budget scenarios with various tax levy increases and service reductions that were developed by the Community Budget Advisory Committee.  Below are the initial list of budget reduction options and ranking from the committee.

Frequently asked questions

What has the City done around staffing reductions, pay cuts, or reduced hours? For example, has a 10% salary decrease been considered?

City staff has already cut six full-time positions and two part-time positions from the 2021 budget. The Community Budget Advisory Committee is analyzing additional staffing reductions that would reduce up to 28.5 full and part-time positions.

Given the wide range of positions at the City, there is no “one size fits all” reduction that makes sense. Pay is set at the individual position level – pay for civil engineers moves differently than the pay for administrative assistants, which moves differently than pay for police officers.

Hospitality revenues are not expected to return to their former levels until 2025. The City needs to make decisions now to balance the budget both for the 2021 budget year, but also for future years. Pay cuts are not a permanent solution to the City’s budget.

Other cities who are not as dependent on hospitality revenues are giving cost of living raises next year. Good employees have choices for where they work, and pay cuts will cause good employees to seek better pay elsewhere.

The State’s pay equity law requires cities to have a job evaluation system and a pay structure. The jobs are categorized according to the evaluation and then assigned appropriate compensation.

The City of Bloomington has five labor unions, which require the City to follow significant rules, processes, and laws guiding employee relations and compensation, and severely limits the City’s ability to impose terms and conditions of employment without negotiation.

Cities also are obligated to participate in binding arbitration with unions comprised of essential employees who, as defined by labor relations law, are not allowed to strike. In Bloomington, four of the five unions are essential work groups who have the right to go to binding arbitration. This means that an independent third party decides contested items of negotiation if the parties cannot agree. Arbitrators typically have a three-tiered approach to make their determination:

  1. External market comparisons;
  2. Internal equity among other City employee groups; and
  3. Ability to pay by the employer.

The “market” that arbitrators consider is generally other cities in the metro area of similar size. Information we have from other large, suburban cities indicates that they plan to proceed with cost of living pay increases for their employees in 2021. This is likely due to the fact that their operating budgets are not reliant on lodging and admission taxes the way Bloomington’s budget is and therefore are not experiencing the same challenges.

We have been successful in negotiating a wage freeze for 2021 with one union, and believe the other groups that do not yet have settled contracts will agree to the same. This wage freeze will be extended to non-union employees, as well.

What is the City doing to reduce spending by tightening its belt instead of raising taxes?

In order to address the 2020 budget shortfall due to COVID-19, the City has reduced staff positions, delayed hiring vacant positions, postponed capital projects, reduced planned supplies and services expenses, and carefully analyzed operations for efficiencies and further reductions.

The City Council appointed a volunteer Community Budget Advisory Committee in May 2020 to develop 2021 budget scenarios that prioritized options of service reductions that included input from the community on what they value most.
 

Has the City considered other sources of revenue to solve the problem of the budget shortfall? For example, using liquor taxes, program fees or rentals instead of property taxes. 

Property taxes typically comprise 68% of the revenues that support the General Fund budget. Other revenue sources include permit fees, license fees, grant revenues, program fees, and lodging and admissions taxes. Lodging and admissions taxes usually generate about 13% of the City’s General Fund revenue. Due to the pandemic, these revenues have declined by more than $5 million, and are less than half of what was collected before COVID-19. 

The committee looked at program fees and is proposing increases in certain areas. Competition keeps the City from making large fee increases – for example, golfers have choices about where they choose to play rounds.

Can projects be postponed such as street maintenance or building a new community center? 

In 2020, several construction and capital projects were postponed. For example the pavement maintenance sealcoating program was cancelled in 2020. The City is not currently working on any plans to replace Creekside, including the location or design of a new community center.

Recessions like these can be good opportunities for the City to get more for its project money. This happened in the aftermath of 9/11, when the City in some cases saved 10-15% on projects.

Why does the City rely so heavily on the hospitality industry?

Bloomington’s location in the metro area, with prominent highway access and convenient access to the airport, makes it a natural location for hospitality businesses. The City has worked for decades to use these features to its advantage. The result is a vibrant, growing hospitality industry with a strong national brand. It employs many Bloomington residents and generates lodging tax revenue that lowers Bloomington property taxes by about 10%. The pandemic-driven decline in lodging tax revenue just proves how this industry helps keep property taxes low. It’s painful to watch the near-term impact of the pandemic on hospitality jobs, but industry analysts expect it to recover in a three to five year timeframe. It’s not just Bloomington that is excited about the long term prospects of the hospitality industry. Cities throughout the metro area are working hard to add hotels in order to get the same benefits that Bloomington has received for decades.

For a pdf version of the above questions and answers, including translations in Somali and Spanish, please use the links below:

Meeting agendas and webcasts

To receive Community Budget Advisory Committee notification, visit the CBAC email updates page and enter your email address.

View meeting agendas and other documents at blm.mn/meetings.

Webcasts of the Bloomington Community Budget Advisory Committee Meetings are available on the City's YouTube page.

Presentations

Presentation library

Background information

Assessment report

The City of Bloomington Assessor's Office determines the value of  approximately 32,000 parcels within the city for property tax purposes. Visit the City Assessor's Office webpage for more information.

2020 Assessment Report

Financial documents

Visit the Finance Department's Financial reports webpage for more info about the following documents.

2020 Budget Book
The Budget Book presents the City's approved 2020 budget.

Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR)
The PAFR, published every June under the title, "Corporate Report to the Community," is a brief summary of the City's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (see next link). The report is intended to increase the general public's understanding of Bloomington's financial condition.

2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)
The purpose of this report is to provide the mayor, City Council, City staff, citizens, bondholders, and other interested parties with useful information concerning the City’s operations and financial position. The 2019 CAFR was published in June 2020. 

2020-2029  Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)
The CIP includes a detailed description of every Capital Project anticipated to be initiated during the ten-year period. Due to the economic downturn brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, projects scheduled for 2020 are being re-evaluated. View more information on the dedicated CIP webpage.

Service assessments

Strategic priorities

One Bloomington | Strategic Priorities 
In its One Bloomington plan, launched in 2017, the City Council has identified seven strategic priorities that will guide the City's decisions through 2020:

  • Community image
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Community amenities
  • High-quality services
  • Focused renewal
  • Environmental sustainability 
  • Transparency

Survey results

Committee Charter

The Committee Charter describes the charge of the committee and their commitment to the work. The final document was adopted at the June 24, 2020 meeting.

Members

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 recommendations given the 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.

All terms end December 31, 2020.

Neil Peterson (Co-Chair)

City of Bloomington Mayor (former)

Commercial Real Estate Broker/Advisor

Former: Mn State Representative, Metropolitan Council Member, Bloomington Mayor and City Council Member

Stonier Graduate School of Banking, Rutgers University; BA Hastings College, Nebraska

Steve Peterson (Co-Chair)

Port Authority Board Commissioner (current)

City Charter Commissioner (current)

City Councilmember (former)

Software engineer

Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, University of Minnesota

Akua Asare

Metropolitan Council Internal Auditor

Class of 2019 Bloomington Leadership Program Member

MPP - University of Minnesota, BA - University of Wisconsin

John Gibbs

Three Rivers Park District Commissioner

Comcast Corporation’s Senior Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs, with responsibility for the nationwide state-level government affairs for Comcast and NBCUniversal including the formation of legislative strategies and policy initiatives.

Current member, Three Rivers Park District Board of Commissioners (formerly Hennepin Parks) representing Bloomington, Eden Prairie and Richfield. This follows a ten year stint on the Hennepin County Library Board (three years as president). John Gibbs is also a member of the board of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Business Partnership as well as the boards of Artistry Theater and Visual Arts and the Minnesota River Valley Chapter of the Izaak Walton League. Gibbs is the former chair of the Hennepin County Policy Advisory Committee, a former member of the Bloomington Charter Commission, former member and chair of the Bloomington Cable Commission.

Graduate, Bloomington Lincoln High School
BA, History, Geography, University of Minnesota
JD, William Mitchell College of Law

John Laux

Bloomington Chief of Police (retired)

City of Bloomington Merit Board Member (current)

BA Metro State

Jessica Linares-Kunkel

Ergotron / Senior Manager, Latin America

Apothecary Products LLC / Director, Latin America

Class of 2019 Bloomington Leadership Program Member
 
 

Bloomington Latino Leadership Member

Bloomington Leadership Program: Learn to Lead / Member
VEAP, Bloomington volunteer
Interpreter, Translator for Bloomington Schools
Latino Lead City of Minneapolis / Member
Women Entrepreneur of Minnesota / Board Member

MS International Business / University of Minnesota Mankato, MN
Mini MBA / University of St. Thomas, MN
BA Accounting / University of Lima, Peru

Chao Moua

Career in Food Manufacturing Industry, Associate Marketing Manager

Class of 2019 Bloomington Leadership Program Member

Master of Business Administration - University of St. Thomas, Bachelors of Science - University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Maureen Scallen Failor

Bloomington Chamber President (former)

President -Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce

Bloomington Community Center Task Force Member

University of Minnesota

Josh Syrjamaki

President of Bloomington Area Hockey Association (former)

Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Planning & Employee Development -- Minnesota Department of Corrections

Past President - Bloomington Amateur Hockey Association
Volunteer Coach - girls youth basketball and softball
Volunteer Coach - boys youth hockey and baseball

University of Minnesota/ ​​BA in Economics