Victor Connor announced his candidacy for Normal mayor in Anderson Park Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. (Stephanie Pawlowski/WJBC)
By Stephanie Pawlowski
NORMAL - There's a new candidate for Normal Mayor.
Victor Connor or Normal officially announced his campaign in Anderson Park Wednesday. He said since 2003, taxes have gone up 48 percent in Normal. He said 20 percent of that comes from inflation.
"At the same time, the increased population has only increased in those eight years roughly 10 percent. So, we basically have 18 percent increase from two places, new taxes and increased tax rates," Connor said.
The numbers Connor is using include all revenues to Normal, property taxes, utility taxes, local sales tax, local liquor tax, road and bridge tax, franchise tax, state income tax, sales tax, replacement tax, motor fuel tax, hotel motel tax, and food and beverage tax. In those eight years, several new hotels have come online, including the Bloomington Normal Marriott in Uptown Normal and the Holiday Inn Express on Parkway Plaza Drive.
Mayor Chris Koos said revenue growth is not necessarily from increases in tax rates, and property taxes have been flat.
"Our local share of property taxes have stayed even since I've been mayor and before," Koos said.
Connor said he thinks town government is growing too quickly and spending too much. He said he has a problem with the money spent to renovate Uptown Normal. As of March 31, the outstanding debt for the Uptown is about $80 million.
Connor said he's delivered his literature to more than 1,300 registered voters in Normal, met with 600 and talked to 150. He said of those, six people say they have use for Uptown.
"Six said they were happy to pay for what's being paid, and that's fine with them," Connor said. "But, 20 or 30 people are very unhappy with what's going on. Now, there are some people who say they like the way it looks downtown, but when I show the debt that we've incurred, they are kind of shocked and taken aback."
Koos said he finds the six person figure lacking credibility.
"That only six out of 150 people that he talked to had any use for Uptown, unless he's talking to a very select group of people. Obviously, this has been vetted in at least three public elections, if not more," Koos said.
Connor also drew comparisons to Stockton, Calif., which declared bankruptcy. But, at the last Normal Town Council meeting, City Manager Mark Peterson said Normal's credit ratings are all high.
Normal's credit rating is AA 1 from Moody's, at the high end of the AA rating. Standard and Poor's rates Normal at a AA+, and Fitch rates the town with a AAA. Peterson said the town covets those ratings.
Stephanie Pawlowski can be reached at Stephanie.Pawlowski@Cumulus.com.