Normal plans budget cuts; blames shrinking sales tax revenue

Uptown Station
Normal’s Town Council is looking to cut about two dozen jobs as one step among many to try to plug a projected $4.25 million budget deficit. (WJBC file photo)

By Eric Stock

NORMAL – Normal City Manager Mark Peterson said a shrinking tax base – particularly the sales tax – has caused a $4.25 million shortfall the town council is trying to plug.

“We’ve seen our sales tax revenue decline now three years in a row,” Peterson told WJBC’s Scott Laughlin. “I’ve been here 30 years, it’s never happened in my tenure.”

PODCAST: Listen to Scott’s interview with Peterson on WJBC.

Peterson added online retail is largely to blame for the drop in sales tax revenue since those purchases are tax free.

The town council has laid out a number of cost-saving ideas at a budget work session on Thursday, including cutting close to 25 jobs, some are already vacant or will be cut through attrition.

“You don’t lose 25 staff positions and don’t lose any impact on service levels, so there will be some impact on services, fortunately not catastrophic,” Peterson said. “(There) may be some inconveniences from time to time.”

The town is also looking at dropping its drop-box recycling program. Peterson said the town could also reduce its weekly recycling pickup and possibly drop its electronics recycling program. Other proposed cuts include the Normal Police substation on Orlando Avenue, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day banquet and the Bone Grant program.

No votes were taken on the budget plan. The town council is planning more discussions.

Eric Stock can be reached at eric.stock@cumulus.com.

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