2022 budget OK’d by Bloomington council on 9–0 vote

On Wednesday night, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s roughly $107 million budget for 2022 was approved on a unanimous vote of the city council.

Two weeks ago some city councilmembers had threatened to vote against it.

After expressing discontent with the mayor’s 2022 budget at their Oct. 13 meeting, and before voting on it, councilmembers had recessed their meeting until this Wednesday.

Approval of next year’s budget came five days ahead of a statutory deadline, which makes Nov. 1 the last day it can be adopted.

Under state law, if the deadline for adoption had been missed, Bloomington would have had to get through 2022 with the same tax rate and levy as specified in the 2021 budget. That would have meant $1.2 million less in general fund revenue than was called for in Hamilton’s 2022 budget.

Hamilton’s 2022 budget fell short of councilmember expectations in two areas—police pay and climate action.

But in remarks explaining their support for the budget, councilmembers pointed to some positive movement on Hamilton’s part that they discerned in the administration’s news release from the day before. Continue reading “2022 budget OK’d by Bloomington council on 9–0 vote”

Bloomington council delays 2022 budget vote until Oct. 27: Will mayor concede on police, climate?

On Wednesday, when a decision was scheduled on the 2022 Bloomington budget, the city council chose to recess its meeting without voting, less than 90 minutes after it was called to order.

The recess came when it became apparent that the mayor’s budget did not have majority support on the nine-member council to pass that night.

Some councilmembers, like Dave Rollo, say that in order to support the 2022 budget, it has to include a re-opening of the collective bargaining agreement with the police union and a $5,000 base pay increase for sworn officers.

Other councilmembers, like Isabel Piedmont-Smith, say that in order to support the 2022 budget, it has to include an appropriation for a new job at the city—director of climate action.

That’s not an exhaustive list of all the changes councilmembers say they want to see, before they’ll vote to adopt the 2022 budget.

In any case, councilmembers want Bloomington mayor John Hamilton to make further revisions to the roughly $107 million budget, before they take it up again in two weeks. That amount does not include the budgets for Bloomington Transit (BT) and city of Bloomington utilities (CBU).

Before recessing its meeting, the council approved two of the appropriation ordinances that are part of the six-ordinance package of legislation that makes up the annual budget. Getting unanimous approval were the budgets for BT and city of Bloomington utilities CBU.

On Oct. 27, in addition to the appropriation ordinance for the basic city budget, the council will still have on its agenda three salary ordinances—one for police and fire, one for other city employees, and one for elected officials. Continue reading “Bloomington council delays 2022 budget vote until Oct. 27: Will mayor concede on police, climate?”

Bloomington set to bang wobbles out of budget wheel, in year-end ritual

If the city’s annual budget starts out as a perfectly round plan at the beginning of the year, it gets a few dings as it rolls along through the months.

By Centrimaster – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Towards year’s end, adjustments always get made to the budget, in the form of an appropriation ordinance. Money gets shuffled amongst funds and in some cases draws on the general fund balance to square up the ledger.

As city controller Jeff Underwood described the process to the city council’s committee of the whole on Thursday night, “We come to you in the fall and…kind of ‘true up’, as I call it, the different departments and different funds that may need transfers or may need additional funds.”

At Thursday’s meeting, the appropriation ordinance, totaling about $1.5 million, got a favorable recommendation from the council’s committee of the whole, which sets the stage for a vote of approval by the full city council in December.

One of the bumps in the road this year was the COVID-19 pandemic. The city’s online financial system shows $543,595 worth of expenses with “COVID” in the expense description.  That’s close to the $549,000 described by Underwood as expected to be reimbursed through the state’s and city’s federal COVID-19 relief assistance. Continue reading “Bloomington set to bang wobbles out of budget wheel, in year-end ritual”

Script almost ready to run for Bloomington city council’s OK of $2 million COVID-19 recovery


A $2.4 million package of recovery programs, first pitched to the city council by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton at a July 10 work session, is now on course for approval at this Wednesday’s city council meeting.

The money is already in city coffers, Hamilton said last Wednesday afternoon.

So as soon as the appropriation is approved, the money can start paying for the programs it is meant to support. That includes a coding school to be hosted by The Mill, to train underemployed people to program computers.

Hamilton’s comments last Wednesday came during a video conference on the proposed funding package. Continue reading “Script almost ready to run for Bloomington city council’s OK of $2 million COVID-19 recovery”

Bloomington city council votes to repave College Mall Road on split vote

At its regular meeting Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council voted to approve an appropriation ordinance that includes, among other things, a reclassification of funds to pay for a repaving of College Mall Road.

The project, which extends between 3rd Street and Moores Pike, is planned for later this summer.

The vote, which was split 6–3 on the nine-member council, came as the clock ticked towards 10:30 p.m., about four hours after the meeting started.

Dissenting on the vote were councilmembers Steve Volan, Matt Flaherty, and Kate Rosenbarger.

The meeting was fraught with procedural wrangling that could be traced to lingering discord from the beginning of the year over the establishment of four-member standing committees of the council.

In the end, the council’s action on Wednesday provided funding for two street projects, which are supposed to start this summer. One is a repaving project—College Mall Road, southward from 3rd Street to Moores Pike.

The other project includes improvements to the intersection at Sare Road and Moores Pike and construction of a multi-use path south of there. Continue reading “Bloomington city council votes to repave College Mall Road on split vote”

Owners or employees? Bloomington city council’s planned $2-million COVID-19 relief gets scrutiny

At its meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council took the next procedural step towards getting $2 million worth of already-collected food and beverage tax revenue, into the hands of the private sector.

The goal is to provide bridge funding for local employers and employees who have been impacted by the COVID-19 viral epidemic.

Cropped zoom council April 1 meeting Screen Shot 2020-04-01 at 7.28.54 PM
Row-wise from top left: city council deputy administrator/attorney Stephen Lucas, CM Ron Smith, CM Jim Sims, city council  administrator/attorney Dan Sherman, CM Sue Sgambelluri, CM Matt Flaherty, CM Dave Rollo, CM Kate Rosenbarger, CM Isabel Piedmont-Smith, city clerk Nicole Bolden, CM Steve Volan, and CM Susan Sandberg. (Screen grab from April 1, 2020 meeting of the Bloomington city council conducted on the Zoom videoconferencing platform.)

The bridge is supposed to span the time it will take for more robust federal aid to land in local hands.

The step taken by the city council on Wednesday was to hear a first reading of a $2 million appropriation ordinance, made possible by the positive recommendation of the food and beverage tax commission at a meeting convened last Friday.

Based on the timeline sketched out on Wednesday by city controller Jeff Underwood, the money could be ready for distribution as soon as the end of next week, April 10.

The steps involved would include a city council approval of the appropriation at its second reading at a Tuesday, April 7 meeting.

The appropriation would then need a final sign-off by the Indiana Department Local Government Finance, which Underwood hopes to get by April 10. At that point, the money would be available, Underwood said at Wednesday’s meeting.

To whom should that money be available? Continue reading “Owners or employees? Bloomington city council’s planned $2-million COVID-19 relief gets scrutiny”