Rumblings among Bloomington city council members about voting against 2022 budget

Climate action, non-motorized transportation, and police pay are current sticking points between Bloomington’s city council and mayor John Hamilton, as the 2022 city budget process builds towards a mid-October council vote.

At their committee-of-the-whole meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington city council members reviewed each of the legislative items that collectively make up the annual budget.

Three appropriation ordinances cover different pieces of the city’s finances—the city’s basic budget, city of Bloomington utilities, and Bloomington Transit. The other three items are salary ordinances for different categories of employees—police and fire; other city employees; and elected officials.

The final 2022 budget, which reflected just a few adjustments since the departmental hearings in August, totals around $107 million.

Based on the straw polls they took on Wednesday, some councilmembers will be voting against the appropriation ordinance for the basic budget—unless they see some concessions from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton.

Those concessions would need to be made between now and Oct. 13—that’s when an adoption vote is scheduled. Continue reading “Rumblings among Bloomington city council members about voting against 2022 budget”

Final climate action plan accepted by Bloomington city council, an evolution from draft

At its regular meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously to accept the city’s climate action plan.

Presenting the plan to the council was Lauren Travis, the city’s assistant director for sustainability. The plan is an advisory document intended to guide city activities and funding priorities, and to establish science-based targets to reduce Bloomington greenhouse gas emissions, Travis told councilmembers.

Reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 is one of the goals in the plan that councilmember Matt Flaherty cited as praiseworthy. He said, “This is the first time, I believe, that a city document of some kind, even if we’re just accepting it, not formally adopting it, has sort of softly committed to a net-zero emissions target by 2050.”

Flaherty contrasted the commitment to net-zero by 2050 in the accepted plan to previous commitments: “Most of our past resolutions, commitments, our signatory to various things, is in line with the Paris agreement, which is a 2-degree warming target, and 80-percent emission reductions by 2050.”

Carbon neutrality, or net-zero, means that whatever emissions Bloomington produces as a community would be offset, so that the net impact of greenhouse gas emission is zero.

A draft of the plan was presented to the city council’s climate action and sustainability committee in mid-November of 2020.

By The Square Beacon’s count, the number of recommended actions in the plan grew from 266 in the draft to 291 in the version accepted by the city council on Wednesday. Continue reading “Final climate action plan accepted by Bloomington city council, an evolution from draft”

Draft climate action plan for Bloomington includes recommendations for 17 changes to local law

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, the week before Thanksgiving, a draft of a climate action plan for Bloomington was presented to the city council’s four-member standing committee on climate action and resilience.

The meat of the 158-page draft climate action plan is a table of 266 recommended actions, organized under 61 strategies, which fall under 26 goals for eight general topics.

The eight topics are: transportation and land use, energy and built environment, waste management, water and wastewater, local food and agriculture, health and safety, greenspace and ecosystem health, and climate economy.

The plan is supposed to provide a blueprint for Bloomington to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from all sources, with a goal of carbon neutrality, and make preparations for climate change.

The draft includes 17 different recommendations for changes to local law, among them some changes to the unified development ordinance (UDO).

The recommended changes to the UDO in the draft climate action plan (CAP) do not include any revisions to the zoning code on residential building forms (i.e., plexes), which are expected to generate considerable controversy when they’re taken up by the plan commission in the second half of January. Continue reading “Draft climate action plan for Bloomington includes recommendations for 17 changes to local law”