$10M in new bonds part of Bloomington mayor’s pitch to city council to adopt 2022 budget this week

In a news release issued early Tuesday afternoon, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton has made a pitch to the city council to adopt his proposed 2022 budget.

B Square file photo. City council president Jim Sims (left) and Bloomington mayor John Hamilton chat before the celebration of the fire department’s top ISO rating at Switchyard Park on Oct. 15, 2021.

After expressing discontent with the mayor’s 2022 budget at their Oct. 13 meeting, and before voting on it, councilmembers recessed the meeting until this Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Tuesday’s news release raises two topics that have been sources of discord between the mayor and different groups of councilmembers: police pay and climate action.

Based on Tuesday’s news release, it appears that there might be a little bit of movement on the question of police pay.

But the news release does not describe any inclination to reopen the current collective bargaining agreement with the police union, one year ahead of the normal cycle. That had been the specific request from the council.

On the climate front, there’s a proposal in Tuesday’s release to issue $10 million in bonds next year—half through the general fund and half through parks—to undertake various climate initiatives. The pair of $5-million bond issuances might be repeated in five-year increments, according to Tuesday’s new release.

The news release also describes an additional staff position within the economic and sustainability department. But there’s no announcement of a position at the level of a climate action director, as some councilmembers want. Continue reading “$10M in new bonds part of Bloomington mayor’s pitch to city council to adopt 2022 budget this week”

Bloomington water rates will still go higher, but by less: Details of proposed settlement filed

Customers of city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) will be paying more for their drinking water starting Jan. 1, 2022.

But the increase will not be quite as much as CBU originally proposed.

CBU took the rate case to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), after it was approved by the city council in mid-March. The IURC recognized Indiana University and Washington Township Water as intervenors.

After wrangling back and forth since the initial filing, a settlement among Bloomington and the intervenors was filed, on Oct. 6 this past week.

Under the proposed settlement, which still needs approval by the IURC, residential customers will still see an increase in two phases. But the overall increase for residential customers will go from $3.73 to $4.38 per 1,000 gallons, instead of $4.54 per 1,000 gallons.

The 16-cent smaller increase that residential customers will pay compares to a 32-cent smaller increase for Indiana University. Indiana University is a separate customer class for CBU. Indiana University’s increase will go from $2.37 to $2.99 per 1,000 gallons instead of $3.31 per 1,000 gallons.

That still leaves Indiana University with a higher percentage increase (26.16 percent) than residential customers (17.43 percent). Continue reading “Bloomington water rates will still go higher, but by less: Details of proposed settlement filed”

Bloomington’s proposed shuffling of engineering, parking would reverse, re-work similar move made in 2014

Part of last week’s 2021 budget proposal from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton might make some residents feel like it’s 2014 again.

In early July of 2014, then-mayor Mark Kruzan got the city council’s approval for a re-organization of city departments that moved two divisions out of the public works department.

Parking enforcement was moved from public works to the police department. And the engineering division was moved out of public works, into a newly created department of planning and transportation.

As a part of the 2021 budget proposal, parking enforcement is now proposed to be moved out of the police department and folded back under public works.

The engineering division is proposed to be moved out of planning and transportation, but not to its old home in public works. Instead, a new department of engineering is proposed, headed by the city engineer, which is a mayoral appointment under state law.

The city has found the retention of someone in the city engineer position to be a challenge over the last half dozen years. The position, which is called the transportation and traffic engineer, is currently open.

Taking parking enforcement out of the police department is loosely connected to the two additional non-sworn neighborhood resource officers that are proposed for the 2021 budget.

Continue reading “Bloomington’s proposed shuffling of engineering, parking would reverse, re-work similar move made in 2014”

First confirmed COVID-19 case in almost 3-months for city of Bloomington employees, as firefighter tests positive

border R-OUT COVID DAILY CASES June 24

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the city of Bloomington announced that another city employee has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

It’s the third employee to have tested positive, according to the release, but the first in nearly three months.

The most recent employee to have tested positive is a firefighter, according to the release. Of the two previous positive tests for city employees on March 28 and April 3, one was a firefighter and the other was a parks and recreation department employee.

The total number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Monroe County now stands at 214.  According to information released on June 24 from the state, 26 Monroe County residents have died from the disease. The total number of tests has increased over the last few weeks. The total number tested in Monroe County is now 6,408.

The number of cases by day peaked in mid-April. At that point the rolling 7-day average was around 6 cases a day. Since the end of April, the 7-day average in Monroe County has stayed mostly under 2 cases a day, but a spike on June 16 pushed the 7-day average to over 3. With that spike no longer contributing to the average, it’s dropped again to below 2.