Alex Stogin, Business Manager

 

At this week’s Bloomington City Council Meeting on Monday Nov. 9, supporters of the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) came out to voice their desire to keep the BCPA funded, speaking about the importance of the services that the BCPA offers.

The city council currently faces the challenge of balancing the budget so that it can avoid having a structural deficit in fiscal year 2017. Given the situation at hand, the council has the option to raise taxes or cut expenditures in order to avoid having a deficit.

Recently, the council approved a one percent sales tax increase in order to help raise revenue for the city without having to drastically alter any of the services it offers. But the council will still need to increase taxes in other areas or cut costs to completely balance the future budget.

The council has since been looking into various cuts in city services to achieve that goal without having to raise taxes continuously. One service being looked at for budget cuts is the BCPA. The BCPA receives a subsidy of $1 million and is viewed by some as a “non-essential” resource when compared to services such as emergency services. No one has come out publicly against the BCPA and the services it provides the city, but city council members have to weigh those services with all other services it wishes to continue to provide.

Bloomington mayor and Illinois Wesleyan University professor Tari Renner explained that budget cuts need to be made, and that unfortunately, it makes the most sense to do that within the Parks and Recreation department.

“We cannot keep avoiding cuts and not want our taxes raised if we want to keep funding the city,” Renner said.

Those who came out in support all spoke to the common theme of how the BCPA is Bloomington’s primary cultural outlet and helps pull the entire community together. While the BCPA hosts many travelling Broadway plays, it also offers theater programs for young children and allows student groups to perform there among other things.

They all spoke of their experiences that the BCPA has had their lives and the lives of others who take advantage of its services. A young girl said that the BCPA a “huge impact on her life” and that BCPA “even had a play for all the little kids who couldn’t be in the main one.”

One resident did point out the need to strike a balance between supporting the BCPA and acknowledging that the city needs a plan to avoid a deficit while preferably not raising taxes again.

Another resident brought up prioritizing funds, saying that “although [the BCPA] is a great part of the city, we must weigh it against the services we need. We can’t cut back on emergency services in order to fund it.”

The city council has several months to resolve this issue but for those who support the full funding of the BCPA, this was a strong showing of emotion towards the facility and could potentially have an impact on the council’s decision over the BCPA when the time comes.