At its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council unanimously approved $626,000 in spending from the city’s general fund, along with an appropriation of $1.3 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money.
After adding another $233,600 in spending for the parks department, and a transfer of $1,875,851 between two kinds of motor vehicle fund, the total for the appropriation ordinance approved by the city council on Wednesday was just a smidgen over $4 million.
The general fund spending will draw on money that was budgeted for 2022, but not spent in that year. If it were not appropriated now, it would revert back to the general fund, and count as a part of the fund balance, from which future appropriations could also be made.
Of the $1.3 million in ARPA funds—that’s money from a federal stimulus bill to help economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic—$1 million was appropriated to pay for a housing down payment incentive for firefighters and police officers.
The $100,000 no-interest housing down payment loan is completely forgivable at the rate of $10,000 a year for up to 10 police officers and 10 firefighters—if they buy a house inside the city limits.
The other $300,000 in ARPA money was approved to make one-time payments to firefighters whose union contract left them with a pay increase of just 2 percent for 2023, compared to the 5 percent that other, non-union city employees received. The one-time payments are supposed to make up the difference between the 2 percent in the union contract and the amount they would have received if the contractual amount had been 5 percent.
The union contract for firefighters goes through 2024, and was settled before the current inflationary trends were apparent. So the union has called for the reopening of collective bargaining on that contract, before the next cycle of negotiations would normally start.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, city controller Jeff Underwood indicated that outgoing mayor John Hamilton would not be opening the contract early. About the idea of opening the firefighters contract early, Underwood said, “I don’t believe that is something that we are willing to do.”
Underwood continued, “There’ll be a new mayor. There’ll be a new administration. There’ll be a new council.” Underwood added, “We feel it’s more appropriate to allow the incoming group to tackle that issue in the manner that they would think is best.”
According to an email message sent by fire union president Jordan Canada to media outlets in early March, by June the fire department will be understaffed by 17 firefighters. Full staffing is around 100. That’s something Canada attributed to poor pay, measured against the other two fire departments in Monroe County—Monroe Fire Protection District and Ellettsville’s fire department.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, deputy mayor Mary Catherine Carmichael, said that the incoming firefighter recruiting class numbered 21. The new probationary firefighters will not receive the same extra “premium” pay, interim human resources director Emily Fields said at Wednesday’s meeting.
The total amount of city general fund money that was budgeted, but not spent in 2022, was $1.39 million. It’s out of that unspent money that the $626,000 in general fund appropriations were approved.
Attending Wednesday’s meeting to describe how that process is handled was Cheryl Gilliland, who works in the controller’s office as director of auditing and financial systems. Gilliland said, “In the past, the mayor has allowed departments to spend approximately 50 percent of their prior year annual savings.” She continued, “This type of reward system has been on hold since 2020, at the start of the pandemic. So tonight, we’re really happy to be back offering this type of reward to departments.”
If the $626,000 had not been appropriated, it would have reverted to the general fund, where it would be a part of the fund balance, contributing to the city’s cash reserve. The reserve is the sum of the rainy day fund and the fund balance.
If all $1.39 million of unspent money from 2022 had been allowed to revert to the general fund, Underwood said the reserve would amount to 38.2 percent of the 2022 budget. But by appropriating $626,000 of that money, the council reduced the reserve to 37 percent.
That’s still four points over the city’s target of a 33-percent reserve, which is about four months worth of operating expenses, Underwood said.
|Fire||The Fire Department desires to increase its budget by $83,000 in Classification 2 – Supplies, and $81,600 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges in order to provide extra PPE/Fire gear and duty 099 Page 2 of 3 uniforms/boots for extra recruits, EMT training for new online firefighters, tablets for Prevention Division, architect offset costs for Station 1 reconstruction, new fire alarm system and gas line repair at Station 2, and inspection software for Deputy Fire Marshals, unexpected cost of FireHouse software renewal for records management, new software program for Mobile Integrated Health Care workers.||$164,600|
|ITS||The Information Technology Services Department desires to increase its budget by $30,368 in Classification 2 – Supplies, $44,829 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges and $18,803 in Classification – 4 Capital in order to provide for badge printer replacement, atrium public meeting kiosk, multifactor authentication hardware, thermal barcode printer, digital equity Wi-Fi, SQL server maintenance, Tyler EPL System Management, Google licenses for new employees/interns, DocuSign 100 Page 3 of 3 licenses, conduit repair, security camera replacements, and digital equity Wi-Fi hardware provided by an outside source.||$94,000|
|Legal||The Legal Department desires to increase its budget by $1,500 in Classification 2 – Supplies and $69,700 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges in order to provide additional staff development which includes travel, lodging, and conference fees. Plus, cover the cost of ergonomic equipment, respirator fit testing for Fire personnel, special legal services, increased insurance premium, and software licensing to improve contracting processes.||$71,200|
|Police||The Police Department desires to increase its budget by $50,700 in Classification 2 – Supplies in order to purchase and install emergency equipment in vehicles, which includes lights, communications equipment and associated support equipment.||$50,700|
|Mayor||The Office of the Mayor desires to increase its budget by $13,100 in Classification 2 – Supplies, and $35,800 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges for the Innovation lab, which will cover items not included in the adopted budget, such as, supplies, IT equipment (wireless keyboard & mouse), materials for Innovation Toolkit and Bootcamps, 9x prototypes, open house signage, and a pilot contract with Civic Champs.||$48,900|
|Human Resources||The Human Resources Department desires to increase its budget by $46,500 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges in order to purchase new applicant racking software.||$46,500|
|Planning||The Planning Department desires to increase its budget by $35,200 in Classification 3 –Services and Charges in order to provide coverage of consultant fees associated with the Safe Streets and Roads for All Action Plan.||$35,200|
|CFRD||The Community & Family Resources Department desires to increase its budget by $19,000 in Classification 2 – Supplies and $9,500 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges in order to provide additional promotional and campaign materials for four groups (After Hours Ambassador, Domestic Violence Coalition, Commission on Aging, Commission on the Status of Women), event supplies, and a laptop/monitor for a new employee.||$28,500|
|ESD||The Economic and Sustainable Development Department desires to increase its budget by $1,000 in Classification 2 – Supplies, and $17,900 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges to provide additional staff development which includes travel, lodging, and conference fees. Plus, purchase branded ESD clothing for staff to use in public and a TDM Trek Bike as a promotional raffle item.||$18,900|
|Public Works Administration||The Public Works Department desires to increase its budget by $18,500 in Classification 3 – Services in order to provide for additional hours for the Brighten B-town program to perform graffiti removal and additional funds to cover the APWA agency accreditation application agreement fee.||$18,500|
|Public Works – Facilities Maintenance||The Public Works Department desires to increase its budget by $16,800 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges in order to provide funding for City Hall maintenance and repair projects not included in the adopted budget.||$16,800|
|HAND||The Housing and Neighborhood Development Department desires to increase its budget by $16,000 in Classification 2 – Supplies in order to provide new tablets, computer monitors, scanners, and software to inspection staff.||$16,000|
|Animal Care & Control||The Public Works Department desires to increase its budget by $10,000 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges, for additional Veterinary medical care costs.||$10,000|
|Clerk||The City Clerk desires to increase its budget by $4,100 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges to provide additional instruction and travel for Clerk staff.||$4,100|
|Council||The Council Office desires to increase its budget by $1,300 in Classification 2 – Supplies and $900 in Classification 3 – Services and Charges in order to provide for a Webcam in Clerk/Council library, Adobe Acrobat Pro license, CAPS commission supplies and research access, training/travel to attend the AIM Municipal Law Seminar, and CAPS commission support for community events.||$2,200|