Bloomington city council to mull resolution on “certain inadequacies within the police budget”

The proposed 2022 budget for Bloomington’s police department will be the topic of a city council work session on Friday at noon, and a special meeting of the council set for 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday (Sept. 8).

Up for discussion will be a resolution sponsored by councilmembers Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg and Ron Smith that “addresses certain inadequacies within the police budget,” according to Rollo.

News of the possible resolution came at the end of the city council’s Wednesday meeting, during the time when the council addresses scheduling matters.

The resolution is likely to call for an increase to the proposed 2022 police budget so that pay for officers can be bumped, which would probably require an earlier-than-scheduled reopening of the collective bargaining agreement with FOP Lodge 88.

Those are options that the city council discussed last week during its hearing on the police department’s budget.

The challenge that councilmembers and the administration are confronting is the retention and recruitment of sworn officers. Bloomington’s police department is authorized to hire up to 105 authorized sworn officers, but has just 93 on staff, of which only 76 are available, according to remarks from police chief Mike Diekhoff at last week’s budget hearing.

The fiscal plan connected to Bloomington’s current annexation proposal anticipates around 30 additional officers would be needed.

The final 2022 budget gets presented to the council towards the end of September. A city council resolution could not bind mayor John Hamilton’s administration to increase the police department’s portion of that budget.

But it would put on the record whether there is majority support on the council for the budget change.

The mayor’s office did not respond to a B Square inquiry made on Monday about whether Hamilton is considering asking the FOP Lodge 88 for a reopening of the collective bargaining agreement. The contract runs through 2022.

President of the union, Paul Post, wrote in response to a B Square question: “The FOP has been continuously asking for salary help to be competitive in hiring. We would certainly be open to a limited, narrowly focused re-opening of the CBA for such a purpose.”

At last week’s budget hearing, Rollo stated, “I think that we ought to increase base pay by $5,000 immediately. That’s what I expect to see in this budget, if I’m going to support it in the future.”

Based on the certified amounts of base pay plus longevity pay certified by 153 Indiana police departments to the state’s retirement fund, the pay for Bloomington sworn officers ranks 68th among the state’s departments.

Increasing the base pay of Bloomington sworn officers by $5,000 in 2021 would bring it to $61,956. Adding in the $2,500 longevity pay, makes a total of $64,456, which would rank 48th in the state, just behind the department in Columbus, Indiana.

The police department’s proposed budget for 2022 is about $20.1 million. This year’s total basic city budget—not including City of Bloomington Utilities, the Bloomington Housing Authority or Bloomington Transit—weighs in at $106.6 million.

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