On Wednesday, an update from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton to the city council—about a nonprofit that his administration has formed—highlighted the current tension between the city’s executive and legislative branches.
The new nonprofit is called City of Bloomington Capital Improvement, Inc. (CBCI).
One source of a current conflict between the mayor and the city council is the way the appointments are made to the five CBCI board seats. Hamilton formed CBCI with bylaws that say four board seats are to be appointed by the mayor and one seat is to be appointed by the city council.
Several councilmembers think the split should be more evenly balanced. Still, the council forged ahead a couple of weeks ago by making its one appointment—retired housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department head, Doris Sims.
The four mayoral appointee are: Sarah Bauerle Danzman, Valerie Peña, Mick Renneisen, and John West.
On Wednesday, during Hamilton’s update, the disagreement between the mayor and the council, over the proper split for the appointments, generated some sharp exchanges.
Throughout the back-and-forth, Hamilton met council questions with affable assurances that he was willing to continue to talk with them about the allocation of the appointments.
Bloomington city councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith.
Bloomington city councilmember Susan Sandberg.
Bloomington city councilmember Steve Volan.
Bloomington city councilmember Jim Sims.
Doris Sims is the Bloomington city council’s appointee to the five-member board of City of Bloomington Capital Improvement, Inc. (CBCI)—the new nonprofit recently formed by mayor John Hamilton’s administration.
Sims is former director of Bloomington’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department. She retired from that role in early 2021. She’s married to city councilmember Jim Sims.
Support for Doris Sims as the council’s appointee to CBCI was enthusiastic and uniform across the dais at the city council’s Wednesday’s meeting.
But some councilmembers, including Jim Sims, took the occasion to criticize the four-to-one split in appointments that was established in the bylaws for the CBCI board—four for the mayor and one for the city council.
On Wednesday, there was some discussion by councilmembers about the idea of not making an appointment to the board, as a way to express the council’s displeasure at the uneven split, and to leverage a change to the bylaws.
But Jim Sims weighed in against making a political chess game out of the appointment. He put it like this: “[Doris] wants to do this service.” He added, “So anything that we might discuss or lead to, that could cause her to be a pawn in this deal will not happen this evening—at least from my standpoint.”
The question came from Indiana University president Pam Whitten, who served up topics to Holcomb as the two sat in easy chairs in front of an audience of around 450 people.
Holcomb said he’d wished he’d appointed his special health commission to do its work sooner than he did—namely, before the COVID-19 pandemic. He added the conventional wisdom about hindsight—it’s 20/20.
Monroe County election board met in the Nat U. Hill Room on Jun 10, 2022.
Looking northwest at 3rd and Walnut streets May 25, 2022. From left: Monroe County convention center (background); election operations building (foreground); and 4th Street parking garage. (May 25, 2022)
At its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, the Monroe County election board handled some routine business for the recent primary election cycle: appeals on fines for late paperwork.
On Thursday, just one of the cases got action from the three-member board
That was due in part to the fact that last week’s meeting was canceled and rescheduled for this week—without notice to the late filers that the hearing would be this week instead. That meant that the board could hear only the cases of the late filers who happened to attend on Thursday.
In the one case where the board took action, the board waived the fine as a first offense, which is the board’s typical approach to late filings.
So far, since the May 3 primary, the planned location of election operations for the 2023 municipal cycle has not been a topic of discussion for the election board.
At their Wednesday meeting, Monroe County commissioners decided to send a request to the local food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC) that they be able to use “any and all” of the county’s share of food and beverage tax proceeds for existing convention center debt and management expenses.
Historically it has been innkeeper’s tax revenues that have been used to pay the convention center debt service. But innkeeper’s tax revenues have have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Food and beverage revenues are also down due to the pandemic, but not by as much.
Hamilton delivered remarks to the city council on Monday night for the first night of a four-day series of departmental budget hearings, which wrap up on Thursday.
If the focus is narrowed just to the general fund, the picture looks the same as last year, with a couple of caveats.
Proposed for this year is $48.69 million which is a 4.1 percent increase, compared to last year’s $46.76 million. But adjusting for a $2 million package of “Recover Forward” initiatives and a decrease in property tax cap expenditures of $193,772, the proposed budget works out to a zero percent increase (out to two decimal places).