Trash talk analysis: Bloomington city councilmembers want to rethink cart fees

The roughly 6,000 Bloomington residents who currently pay the city $11.61 a month for weekly pickup of their 64-gallon trash cart, could see that amount more than doubled—to around $24 a month.

That kind of increase would come from applying some assumptions floated at city council sessions—like eliminating general fund support for trash pickup, and increasing rates only for medium and large carts, not for the smallest size.

While the amount and the timing of an increase is not clear, some Bloomington city councilmembers are looking at a significant increase to trash collection fees and possibly a different approach to the rate structure. Continue reading “Trash talk analysis: Bloomington city councilmembers want to rethink cart fees”

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?”

Column: Bloomington’s city council should allow future annexees to serve on redistricting advisory commission

All eight annexation ordinances that Bloomington’s city council will consider on Sept. 15 include a date on which their affected areas become a part of the city: Jan. 1, 2024.

To achieve the need population balance for city council districts, the results of the 2020 decennial census would already point to a need to redraw district boundaries. The assignment of an annexation area to one of the six city council districts as a part of an annexation ordinance is required by statute. Annexations would add to the pressures to redraw city council districts. (Map does not reflect the amendments made at the council’s Aug. 31, 2021 meeting)

That’s less than two months after the next city elections for mayor, city clerk and city councilmembers.

If the effective date were set for Jan. 1, 2023, annexees would be able to participate in the ordinary democratic process for choosing local representatives.

The fact that new residents of the city would have to wait until 2027 to participate in city elections is a source of fair complaint. Even some Bloomington city council members have admitted they feel bad about it.

While the council could vote to amend the annexation ordinances to change their effective dates to Jan. 1, 2023, the council has shown no visible signs that it’s inclined to do that.

If the city council does not want to make annexees city residents in time to give them the right to vote in the 2023 municipal elections, then the council should at least allow future annexees to have some influence on the upcoming process for re-drawing city council districts.

That would mean altering the city ordinance enacted late last year that establishes a citizens redistricting advisory commission (CRAC). Only city residents are allowed to serve on the nine-member group. Continue reading “Column: Bloomington’s city council should allow future annexees to serve on redistricting advisory commission”

Monroe County, Bloomington opt out of state’s opioid settlement structure

The portion of the data charted out in the city of Bloomington and Monroe County’s 2018 lawsuit is from 2011 to 2015.  Image links to the Indiana State Department of Health datasets.

In the last couple of weeks, Monroe County and Bloomington have opted out of the state of Indiana’s process for allocation of opioid settlement money.

It’s the allocation that might come, if a global settlement is made in a class action lawsuit that has been filed against several pharmaceutical companies. More than 2,000 pending federal lawsuits, including the joint action filed in February 2018 by Monroe County and Bloomington, have been consolidated in the Northern District of Ohio.

For the county, the opt-out vote by the three-member board of commissioners came at last week’s regular June 23 meeting. County councilors voted the day before, at a work session, to opt out of the state’s process.

A week before that, Bloomington’s city council voted to opt out.

What exactly did they opt out of? It’s the process outlined in a new statute enacted during this year’s legislative session, as part of the biennial budget bill. Continue reading “Monroe County, Bloomington opt out of state’s opioid settlement structure”