Bloomington city council critical on first night of 2022 budget hearings: police, parking, sidewalks

On Monday, the first night of departmental hearings on Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed 2022 budget, several city councilmembers conveyed their dissatisfaction about one or more aspects of next year’s financial plan.

Those points of friction included police officer compensation, a parking cashout program for city employees, and alternative transportation funding.

Even though Tuesday is the night scheduled for public safety budgets, Hamilton fielded sharp questions on Monday from councilmembers Dave Rollo and Susan Sandberg about the adequacy of compensation for Bloomington police officers.

Rollo even floated the idea that the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the police union could be reopened to provide higher compensation. The current CBA, approved in late 2019, runs through 2022.

Rollo and Sandberg have concerns about recruitment and retention of police officers. Bloomington currently has 92 sworn officers, which is 13 fewer than the 105 that are authorized.

Rollo doesn’t see the $250,000 pool of retention and recruitment funds in the 2022 budget as adequate.

At one point during Monday’s meeting, Sandberg asked Hamilton, “Do you feel the same sense of urgency that some of us do from having talked to our officers that are currently stressed to a point that I think is almost bordering on a crisis?”

The topic of police staffing levels is certain to be a highlight of Tuesday’s budget hearing, when police chief Mike Diekhoff presents his department’s budget.

Unlike the individual departmental budget presentations, Hamilton’s overview of the budget on Monday was not subjected to an informal straw poll.

The dissatisfaction expressed by the council at Monday’s meeting was not confined to the mayor’s overview.

If the city council’s straw polls had any legal significance, only two of the six departmental budgets presented on Monday would have been approved. The tallies on the straw polls (yes-no-abstain) were: human resources (3–1–5); legal (8–0–1); information technology (4–0–5); council office (6–2–1); controller (4–4–1); and mayor’s office (5–0–4). Continue reading “Bloomington city council critical on first night of 2022 budget hearings: police, parking, sidewalks”