Budget impacts of COVID-19: City facing significant shortfall, considers closure of some facilities

 

The City of Bloomington is facing a significant budget shortfall that could range between $7 million and $17 million in 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19. The City projects that ongoing financial challenges will continue in 2021 and 2022.  As a result, the City Council must prioritize the services the City currently provides and make some difficult decisions about future operations.  

At this time, the Council is specifically considering the future of two City operations – Creekside Community Center and the Bloomington Motor Vehicle Office. Staff has made recommendations to permanently close Creekside Community Center, located at 9801 Penn Avenue South, and the Bloomington Motor Vehicle Office, located at 9930 Logan Avenue South. Both facilities closed to the public in mid-March to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The recommendations to close Creekside and Motor Vehicle permanently, and a recommendation to discontinue subsidizing Hyland Greens Golf and Learning Center while the City works toward an agreement with the Minnesota section of the PGA and the PGA Reach Foundation to take over operations, will save more than $1 million annually.  

The City Council delayed a decision on the recommended closures until May 18 to get feedback from residents. If you have ideas to continue providing quality services and reduce the City’s budget, send them to city-council@bloomingtonmn.gov or take the survey at polco.us/bloomingtonmn.

The City of Bloomington continues to make changes to its services, operations and programming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These decisions are based on public health data, guidelines and orders from Gov. Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health, and financial impacts to the City from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Facility FAQ

The following questions are designed to provide the community with more information regarding City budget impacts, closure recommendations and changes to operations if the Council decides to permanently close the facilities.

Creekside Community Center

Why close Creekside?

Originally built as an elementary school, the Creekside Community Center building located at 9801 Penn Avenue South has outlived its useful life. Closing the facility and moving senior programming to the Bloomington Center for the Arts, 1800 West Old Shakopee Road, will save approximately $700,000 annually in property tax support. The City of Bloomington continues to make changes to its Parks and Recreation operations and programming in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the City’s goal to strike the right balance between maintaining recreational services and programs, ensuring the health and safety of Bloomington residents and living within the City’s budgetary means. 

If we close Creekside, how do we create community and a space for our seniors when it is safe for them to gather again? 

The Bloomington Center for the Arts would be a good location for seniors to gather and participate in various social and recreational activities. The classroom space on the second floor is currently underutilized during the day. The large multipurpose room at the Bloomington Ice Garden also provides another option for programming and gathering.

Which programs would be cancelled?

Creekside staff will work with all senior program leaders regarding their specific programs. The goal is to relocate as many programs as possible that are currently offered at Creekside to new locations at other City facilities, such as Bloomington Center for the Arts or Bloomington Ice Garden. Program cancellations will be based on available facility, equipment needs, social distancing guidelines, and participation numbers. Staff will also be looking at ways to add new programs that better fit the new guidelines and needs of the community.

When will programs begin at the new locations?

The goal is to keep participants, volunteers and staff safe. Staff will be following guidance from Bloomington Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Health regarding when it is safe for in-person programs to begin. At this time, all programs are suspended until further notice and we do not have a date when it will be safe for programs to begin again.

How will I get to the Bloomington Center for the Arts with public transportation?

Staff has contacted the Met Council and found that adding a stop at Bloomington Center for the Arts at Civic Plaza is an option. Metro Mobility will also drop off and pick up at this location. Currently Metro Transit has bus stops located at 98th Street W and Logan Avenue S and 98th Street W and James Ave.

Will parking be available at the Bloomington Center for the Arts?

Yes. Parking is available at the Bloomington Center for the Arts. 

What would happen to Loaves and Fishes, the lunch program and Fare for All?

Loaves and Fishes is working on relocating to another Bloomington location. They are still currently serving to-go meals at Creekside Monday – Friday, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. When a new location is selected, the City of Bloomington will work with Loaves and Fishes to communicate the new location and information to Loaves and Fishes regular attendees and the public.

The lunch program will be discontinued. Creekside staff will reach out to Creekside’s returning lunch guests and assist with connecting them to other food resources. Information on various resources, including food resources, can be found on the City website's COVID-19 section.

Fare for All will be continuing, but has changed to a drive-up option. Fare for All will next be available in the Creekside parking lot Friday, May 22, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. More details will be available Creekside Community Center's webpage. The program may move to the Bloomington Center for the Arts after the May date.

What will happen to the Adult Day program?

If Creekside is permanently closed, Martin Luther Care Center’s Adult Day program at Creekside will be closed. Martin Luther Care Center has an Adult Day program at its Bloomington location. The City of Bloomington does not have a room at a City facility that can be a new permanent home to the Adult Day program. Martin Luther staff will reach out to the Adult Day program attendees regarding their program.

What will happen to the Boutique at Creekside?

Creekside staff will work with the Boutique senior leaders on a time for the Boutique consigners to pick up their items at Creekside. This will be scheduled to occur after the stay-at-home order.

What will happen with personal belongings left at Creekside?

If Creekside is permanently closed, Creekside staff will work with all the senior leaders to determine a time to come in and clean out their group’s supplies/materials. Individuals who have personal belongings at Creekside will be able to pick up these items and should work with their program’s senior leader on the details. Time to pick up and/or clean out supplies and materials will be scheduled to occur after the stay-at-home order is lifted.

What is going to happen to all of the equipment in Creekside?

The equipment at Creekside is City of Bloomington property. City staff will evaluate the various pieces of equipment and make decisions regarding repurposing the equipment to another City of Bloomington department or division, donating or selling the equipment. 

What will happen with tax aide?

AARP was offering tax assistance at Creekside prior to the COVID-19 facility closure. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide services nationwide have been suspended until further notice. The state and federal tax filing deadline has been postponed to July 15, 2020. These tax services may be offered at another location as space allows.

What will happen with AARP Driver Safety Classes?

AARP has canceled all Smart Driver classroom courses through June 30, 2020. When it is safe to resume in-person programs Creekside staff will work with AARP to schedule classroom courses at the Bloomington Center for the Arts. AARP does offer online courses. Use promo code DRIVINGSKILLS to save 25% off. 

Bloomington Motor Vehicle Office

The City of Bloomington has operated a Motor Vehicle Office since 1971.  Currently, Bloomington is one of only 6 cities in Hennepin County that do so.  (There are 45 cities in Hennepin County.) Most residents of Hennepin County, and other metro-area communities, seek these services at a county-run service center. The closest Hennepin County Service Center is inside Southdale Mall in Edina.

Where can I go for motor vehicles services if Bloomington’s office closes?

Minnesotans can seek service from any Motor Vehicle office in the state, regardless of what city or county they reside in.  Alternatives to the Bloomington office would include the Hennepin County offices at the Southdale Service Center or the Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, the Dakota County Service Center in Burnsville, a state-run office in Eagan, and the Scott County office in Shakopee.  There is also a motor vehicle only office in Richfield (no Driver’s License services.) Additionally, some motor vehicle transactions – such as tab renewals – can be completed online

How much is Bloomington’s Motor Vehicle Office supported by property taxes?

While the Motor Vehicle Office was once financially self-supporting, the fees collected for each transaction are set by the State of Minnesota and in recent years have only covered approximately 75% of the cost of providing the service. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City was projecting the need to use $250,000 in property taxes to cover the annual operating costs fully. With the business loss resulting from the pandemic, that shortfall is likely to be even higher.