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.
A four-member committee established by the Monroe County board of commissioners has now met twice as it tackles the task of making recommendations on new precinct boundaries for the county.
Once the precincts are settled, the group will make recommendations on boundaries for county council and county commission districts. It will be the three county commissioners who make the decision on all the boundaries.
The question of law is whether the city of Bloomington has met its obligations under Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA), to response to records requests made by Combs, about the city’s homeless encampment policies, among other matters.
What prompted the records requests in the first place, from an elected township trustee, was an interest in understanding Bloomington’s decision making process related to homeless encampments, because of the potential impact that the city’s policies have on township government.
Combs, who is named as an individual plaintiff, and in his capacity as township trustee, told The B Square on Friday that the township board had approved going ahead with the litigation that has now been filed.
Monroe County auditor Cathy Smith and Ed Ochsner (Oct. 8, 2021)
Monroe County auditor Cathy Smith, Ed Ochsner and Jean Donatiello (Oct. 8, 2021)
Monroe County auditor Cathy Smith (left) and Susan Brackney (Oct. 8, 2021)
On Friday morning, the first remonstrators against Bloomington’s annexations showed up at Monroe County courthouse.
Friday was the start to the formal petitioning process for property owners inside any of the seven areas that Bloomington wants to annex. That’s because Friday’s edition of The Herald-Times carried a public notice of the city council’s adoption of annexation ordinances.
Bloomington’s city councilmembers want mayor John Hamilton’s administration to make policy choices that are consistent with the community’s values. And they want to see those choices reflected in the annual budget.
Otherwise put, Bloomington’s city council is like any other city council in America.
It’s a reasonable and normal expectation for the legislative branch of local government that the budget will be a reflection of local community priorities.
And that’s why the annual budget is the most important legislation considered by the city council every year.
But the budget is not the only piece of legislation that the city council could take up in the course of a calendar year. The legislative body does not need to wait for the administration to propose the annual budget or any other law.
Bloomington’s city council has, on occasion, proven that it’s aware of its own ability to originate new local laws.
For example, when some councilmembers determined that prohibiting turns on red lights at several additional downtown intersections would improve pedestrian safety, they initiated a traffic ordinance and worked with the city staff to get the details right. It was enacted as local law by the city council in early April.
But shifting itself out of park and into legislative gear is not an approach that appears to be favored by the council.
Last week the recycling service was cancelled, because not enough sanitation workers were available to work. Several workers had tested positive for the COVID-19 pandemic virus.
For residents whose recycling efforts exceed the size of the cart in any one week, for the coming week, they can set out additional items in other containers. The news release cautions, “Recycling placed in plastic bags will not be collected.”
Last week, the news release announcing the cancellation of recycling pickup did not come until Sunday afternoon.
The word did not get out to every resident. A uReport from Thursday noted: “Although my trash was taken my recycling was left Tuesday morning. There was no indication or notice sticker as to why.”
The outcomes on the remaining annexation votes taken by Bloomington’s city council on Wednesday night unfolded as expected, based on the previous week’s initial session on the topic.
Including Area 1A on the west side of the city, which got an OK last week, seven of the eight proposed areas for annexation were approved, all on 6–3 votes. The three dissenting votes came from Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg and Ron Smith.
A key argument for the three dissenters was the idea that the city of Bloomington was not in a position to extend some services to the new territory. The specific services causing concern relate to public safety.
The current disparity between the number of sworn officers employed by Bloomington’s department (91) and the number who are authorized (105)—in the context of the 23 to 35 additional officers called for in the fiscal plans—led dissenters to conclude it is unrealistic to think Bloomington could provide public safety services to the new areas.
Those voting in favor cited standard arguments in favor of annexation, including: the idea that annexation is a natural part of the history of cities; that those who own land near municipal boundaries already enjoy several benefits of that proximity, so it’s fair for them to pay city property taxes; and the idea that the remonstrance waivers signed by landowners in exchange for extension of sewer service is a contractual agreement that landowners should expect to fulfill. Continue reading “Bloomington city council OKs annexation on 6-3 votes for all territories, except north area”→
Bloomington’s city council voted on Tuesday night to exclude two small chunks from one of the proposed areas in the currently pending eight-area annexation plan.
The chunks that are no longer on the table to be made a part of the city of Bloomington, came from Area 2, which also goes by the label “South-East Bloomington Annexation Area.” It wraps around the southeast part of the city, extending from SR 46 on the east, to the Rogers and Walnut area on the south.
Area 2 no longer extends all the way to SR 46 for its whole width, based on Amendment 03, which was approved on Tuesday night. On an 8–1 vote of the council, the Edgewood Hills neighborhood, accessible from SR 46 via Lori Lane, was removed from the annexation plan. It was Kate Rosenbarger who dissented on the vote.
The Edgewood Hills chunk included 86 parcels out of the more than 6,600 that are a part of the annexation plan.
A slightly bigger chunk that was proposed to be removed in the same general vicinity—which included Edgewood Hills plus an additional L-shaped piece right on the city border—did not have enough support for removal. Amendment 04 failed on a 3–6 vote, with support from its sponsor Ron Smith, who was joined only by Susan Sandberg and Dave Rollo.
Getting unanimous support from the council for removal from the annexation plan was a five-parcel piece of territory, south of the bend where Rogers Road curves north to become Smith Road.
The biggest piece of the territory removed by Amendment 02 is a part of the Sycamore Land trust. So it has little potential for future development or additional property tax revenue to the city.