Bloomington city council OKs annexation on 6-3 votes for all territories, except north area

The outcomes on the remaining annexation votes taken by Bloomington’s city council on Wednesday night unfolded as expected, based on the previous week’s initial session on the topic.

Including Area 1A on the west side of the city, which got an OK last week, seven of the eight proposed areas for annexation were approved, all on 6–3 votes. The three dissenting votes came from Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg and Ron Smith.

A key argument for the three dissenters was the idea that the city of Bloomington was not in a position to extend some services to the new territory. The specific services causing concern relate to public safety.

The current disparity between the number of sworn officers employed by Bloomington’s department (91) and the number who are authorized (105)—in the context of the 23 to 35 additional officers called for in the fiscal plans—led dissenters to conclude it is unrealistic to think Bloomington could provide public safety services to the new areas.

Those voting in favor cited standard arguments in favor of annexation, including: the idea that annexation is a natural part of the history of cities; that those who own land near municipal boundaries already enjoy several benefits of that proximity, so it’s fair for them to pay city property taxes; and the idea that the remonstrance waivers signed by landowners in exchange for extension of sewer service is a contractual agreement that landowners should expect to fulfill.

Public comment and sparring among councilmembers this week was spirited, even though it was already evident before the deliberations started, based on last week’s action, how the votes would add up.

The final vote at the end of a five-hour meeting was not taken until 11:30 p.m. That vote was taken on Area 7 to the north of the city. Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s administration had come around to the view that the area was not an essential part of the annexation proposal and asked the council not to approve the annexation of Area 7.

Now come the potential remonstrance processes, which under state law, have a 90-day window after the publication by Bloomington of the ordinances  in a newspaper, as defined under Indiana state law.

5 thoughts on “Bloomington city council OKs annexation on 6-3 votes for all territories, except north area

  1. Yes thank you for the coverage. I just love how people who are in the council get to tell other people what is best for them. And the fact that those getting annexed didn’t get a chance to put them in office. And the argument that if you live in the boundaries you enjoy city services and should pay city taxes is a mute point, by that logic every town I travel to I should pay there taxes since I use the city services going through town. This town is headed straight to Hell!

  2. The debate and reporting about annexation continues to be less scientific in tone than polemical, although not entirely. Has there really been no disinterested thinking in the area of “urban economics” about the principles that should ideally govern the drawing of city lines?

    I take it that, in Indiana at least, the territory of the state is partitioned into counties and townships as an essential part of territorial administration. But a “city” is an optional political and administrative body that may be created, presumably for particular practical reasons of the public interest. What are those reasons, in general? How are they applied to the question of where exactly the city lines should be at any moment in time? Who’s an authority on what disinterested people have thought about this?

    Without knowing where to look about these questions, I can only imagine that the main thing is internalizing the “external effects” (in the sense of economists’ “externalities”) of density and its dynamic, which attracts yet more density, both intensively and extensively.

    Density of what? Not just residence but also use: work, commerce, transit, recreation.

    I’m already out of my depth and won’t write anything further, except to repeat that it would be “nice” to have a more principled debate.

  3. As a dissenter, I am not only concerned that we will be unable to cover the newly annexed areas, but that it will further dilute the coverage within the existing municipal boundaries, creating yet more stress on an overtaxed department. Keep in mind that mandatory overtime is already the norm just to keep minimum staffing levels.

  4. County government statewide is irretrievably broken. Im a D but Mitch Daniels was right: county government structures and processes may have worked in the 19th century but they don’t work in the 21st. Everything big issue this county government touches is a disastrous s**tshow – housing, annexation, convention center, I could go on and on. Our region will decline if it’s continued to be governed by petty, divisive, anti-urban people whose primary objective is to protect their fiefdoms. I respect the three on city council who are trying to shore up law enforcement in the city. But long term we need to get county government out of the way in our city.

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