Bloomington’s city council OKs electric bus appropriation, money for county fire protection

A special meeting of Bloomington’s city council on Wednesday wrapped up in about a half hour, as the council dispatched the two agenda items without controversy.

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Bloomington Transit’s general manager, Lew May, speaks to the council’s land use committee on Wednesday (Aug. 28) (Dave Askins/Beacon)

One item was to approve a $1.13 million appropriation in this year’s (2019) budget for the grants won by Bloomington Transit to pay for a battery electric bus and two smaller vehicles. The second item was to give the city council’s approval for the allocation of about $390,000 of countywide local income tax revenue to fire departments in the county.

The meeting was extended a couple minutes, because the Bloomington Transit appropriation ordinance had not been properly introduced for its second reading, before the council voted on it. The council wound up suspending its rules so that the item could be introduced, read aloud, and voted on a second time. That process required three additional votes—one voice voice and two roll calls.

Councilmembers also took the time to ask Bloomington Transit general manager Lew May about his wish list for transit in Bloomington. At the top of his list was not money for better equipment, but rather for more operations—more frequent service and service to more places. May said his top priority would be to add Sunday service.

For May, that made it the second time Wednesday night that had talked about adding bus service.

May had appeared in front of the city council’s land use committee, which met just before the full council on Wednesday, to talk about the Collegiate Development Group’s proposed 820-bed student housing development at the current Motel 6 site on North Walnut Street. The developer is proposing to fund an additional public bus route that would be configured to serve the residents of the development.

The four-member land use committee voted 0–1–3 (zero yes votes, 1 no vote, and 3 abstentions) on the motion to recommend approval of CDG’s planned unit development to the full council.