Van Buren Township, which forms part of the western edge of Monroe County, sits at the southwest corner of the city of Bloomington.
The township’s trustee is Rita Barrow, who has been elected to the post by Van Buren voters.
But most Van Buren Township residents can’t vote for mayor, clerk, or councilmembers in Bloomington’s municipal elections. That’s because it’s only some small areas of Van Buren, with odd geometries, that currently are included inside city boundaries.
Under a current proposal by Bloomington to annex more township territory into the city, more denizens of the township would add city residency to their resumes in 2024, and get the right to vote in city elections.
But the next Bloomington election would not come around until four years later, in November 2027.
The opening paragraph in the letter from Hamilton begins: “On behalf of the City of Bloomington, I agree that you may conduct urban military training in our community. In my capacity as Mayor I am duly authorized to represent, act and sign on behalf of the government of our city.”
In the final sentence of the letter’s second paragraph, Hamilton appears to indicate he believes he has the authority to decide whether the exercises are allowed to take place. He writes: “I also understand that this is not to be considered blanket permission, and that I may change my mind at any time—without cause.”
A few hours after the training exercise was conducted, The B Square submitted several questions to the mayor’s office, including one about who made a decision to give permission for the June 7 military exercises to be conducted in the city.
The mayor’s office answered on June 8 without identifying anyone who made a decision to give permission: “The City cannot prohibit the federal government from conducting a training exercise.”
At its regular meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council restarted the process, which had been suspended in 2017 by action of the state legislature, to annex eight separate areas into the city.
The re-start comes after Indiana’s Supreme Court ruled in a 3–2 split decision late last year that the state legislature’s action was unconstitutional.
The eight different areas that are being considered for annexation would add 9,255 acres to Bloomington’s land area and an estimated 14,377 people to the city’s population.
The city council’s annexation-related action on Wednesday involved one resolution for each of the eight areas to adopt its new fiscal plan, and one ordinance on the annexation itself. The ordinances were first introduced in 2017.
That meant on Wednesday, the ordinances got technical amendments to revise several mentions of dates. But no votes were taken on the ordinances as amended. Those votes are planned for September.
One wobble in the restarted process was the 6–3 outcome of the vote on the adoption of the fiscal plan for Area 7. All the other votes on Wednesday were unanimous.
Area 7 is labeled in the annexation materials as the “North Bloomington Annexation Area.” The area has been described as having more cows and chickens than people. Its estimated 115 people, spread over 896 acres, gives it a population density of 0.12 people per acre.
Dissenting on the Area 7 fiscal plan vote were Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Dave Rollo, and Susan Sandberg. Piedmont-Smith said, “I think it’s too rural.”
But it’s the final votes on the ordinances that will have an impact on whether areas are annexed. Those votes are currently scheduled for mid-September.
Councilmember Matt Flaherty said, “I don’t take my vote on on either resolutions or amendments to ordinances tonight to mean that I am in support of a particular area for annexation.” He added, “I think we’ll continue to consider kind of all aspects of this as we move forward. This is just a step in the process.”
Shortly after 11 a.m. in Dunn Meadow on Indiana University’s campus, a demonstration tipped off in support of those experiencing homelessness in Bloomington.
Somewhere between 70 and 90 people were a part of the action at various points during the late morning and early afternoon, which would up at the intersection of 17th Street and Woodlawn Avenue, kitty-corner from Indiana University’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
That’s where demonstrators set up 17 blue free-standing tents.
At IU Health’s hospital in Bloomington, the area’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases has pushed administrators to find ways to make space for new patients.
A month ago in Monroe County, the seven-day average of confirmed new positive COVID-19 cases had settled around 2. That has increased to around 17 at the end of July. Not every positive case requires hospitalization. But those increased numbers have pushed IU Health’s Bloomington facility towards its capacity.
On Friday, MaryAnn Valenta, IU Health’s regional director for strategic integration, said the hospital is responding to the recent surge by reducing the number of elective procedures and transferring patients to other hospitals inside and outside the region. Where they’re transferred is based on “the location that makes the most sense to each patient based on bed capacity.”
Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton has renewed his call, made at the start of the year, for the Bloomington city council to increase the local income tax.
Such a tax would apply to all residents of Monroe County.
The additional revenue from the income tax would still go towards climate action and sustainability initiatives. But the 0.25-percentage-point increase suggested by Hamilton on Thursday is half the 0.5-point increase that Hamilton had proposed on New Year’s Day.
Another highlight from Thursday’s message from the mayor, which could be overshadowed by reaction to the income tax proposal, is an indication that recent calls to “defund the police” have resonated with the mayor at least a certain degree.
On Thursday, at its first regular meeting since the end of January, Bloomington’s parking commission reviewed the protected bicycle lane project that’s going to be built on 7th Street sometime in 2021.
It was in front of the commission because the 7-Line, to be built as a two-way bicycle path on the south side of the roadway, will require the removal of 113 on-street metered parking spaces. It’s the loss of parking spaces that has generated some concern among property owners along the corridor, among them the Monroe County government.
Parking commissioners gave a unanimous recommendation in support of the planning and transportation staff’s finding—that the three-quarter-mile bicycle lane from the B-Line Trail to the Indiana University campus at Woodlawn supports several goals of the city’s comprehensive plan and squares up with the city’s transportation plan.
Twenty-three candidates for 11 city offices are on the ballot for Bloomington voters in the May 7, 2019 primary election – all but one of them Democrats. And this year, all but two of the Democratic Party primary races are competitive.
To help voters research their choices for Bloomington mayor, clerk and council, we’ve compiled a nonpartisan resource guide that profiles each candidate in the May 7 primary.
In addition to biographical background, the profiles include links to each candidate’s online campaign information (website, social media, email) as well as links to campaign finance documents filed with the Monroe County clerk’s office.
Each profile also provides links to relevant news articles from a variety of sources, a listing that will be updated throughout the election cycle.
To register to vote, check your registration status or find your polling location, go to the Indiana Voter Portal. The deadline to register to vote in the May 7 primary is Monday, April 8.
Note: “Hey Wait a Minute” is an occasional B Square Beacon series that highlights meeting minutes and other documentation of local government group meetings in the Bloomington, Indiana area. Sometimes, arriving at the connection to meeting minutes takes a long walk around the block.
The online world is a mostly a peaceful place where people share facts and thank each other for the useful information. But yesterday someone was wrong on the internet. So a mild fracas broke out.