Bloomington Transit will receive at least $3.8 million a year for the next five years from the city of Bloomington, under an interlocal agreement approved by BT’s five-member board at its final meeting of the year, on Dec. 20.
The agreement still needs to win approval from Bloomington’s city council.
The deal is expected to appear on a city council meeting agenda sometime in January, based on remarks from BT general manager John Connell at last week’s board meeting.
The big initiative that the money is supposed to help fund is an east-west crosstown express route.
Some other specific initiatives that the money is supposed to pay for include: implementation of Sunday service in the first quarter of 2023; enhancement of the paratransit microtransit services; increasing frequency of weekday service; and development of a ridership subsidy program.
The purchase of the western part of the Showers building, which also houses city hall, won’t be decided by Bloomington’s city council until next year.
But in a separate action on Wednesday night, the council did effectively decide that the site of a new Monroe County jail will not be the county government’s first choice, which was an 87-acre piece of land in the southwestern corner of Bloomington.
On a 7–2 vote on Wednesday night, the city council postponed consideration of the $8.75-million Showers building purchase, which would be made by the Bloomington redevelopment commission, if the council approves the deal. Dissenting on the postponement were Matt Flaherty and Jim Sims.
On Jan. 18, 2023, the council will again take up the question of buying the western part of the Showers building, to serve as the city’s main police station, and fire department’s administrative headquarters.
Bloomington city council president Susan Sandberg. (Dec. 7, 2022)
Bloomington city councilmember Jim Sims. (Dec. 7, 2022)
From left: Bloomington city councilmember Dave Rollo and city council attorney Stephen Lucas. (Dec. 7, 2022)
Bloomington city councilmember Ron Smith. (Dec. 7, 2022)
From left: Bloomington city council attorney Stephen Lucas and assistant city attorney Larry Allen. (Dec. 7, 2022)
Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore. (Dec. 7, 2022)
Bloomington deputy chief of police Scott Oldham. (Dec. 7, 2022)
Bloomington police union president Paul Post. (Dec. 7, 2022)
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton. (Dec. 7, 2022)
Bloomington’s city council voted 8–1 on Wednesday night to approve the issuance of $29.5 million in general revenue bonds, to pay for public safety projects—including the purchase and renovation of the western part of the former Showers Brothers Furniture building that houses city hall.
But the purchase of the western part of the historic Showers building was not included in the city council’s Wednesday approval. That vote is expected on Dec. 21.
The western part of the Showers building is where Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s administration is proposing to construct a replacement for the 3rd Street police station, and a new fire department administrative headquarters.
Also included in the bond proposal is the reconstruction of Fire Station #1 and the remodel of Fire Station #3, among other projects, for around $10.5 million.
The appropriation for the expenditure of $8.75 million for the building purchase, plus about $15 million in renovations, will get a first reading at next Wednesday’s (Dec. 14) meeting of the council, with a final vote expected the following week, on Dec. 21.
Together with the appropriation ordinance, the council will be asked to approve the Bloomington redevelopment commission’s purchase agreement for the Showers building.
Dissenting on the bond issuance vote was city council president Susan Sandberg.
Bloomington city council president Susan Sandberg. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Bloomington city councilmember Steve Volan. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Bloomington city councilmember Kate Rosenbarger. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Bloomington city councilmember Jim Sims. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Bloomington city councilmember Dave Rollo. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Deputy mayor Don Griffin. In the foreground is Bloomington mayor John Hamilton. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Deputy mayor Don Griffin. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Bloomington police chief Mike Diekhoff. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Police union president Paul Post. (Nov. 30, 2022)
Schematic for rebuild of Fire Station #1.
Last Wednesday, president of Bloomington’s police union, Paul Post, led off his public commentary at Bloomington’s city council meeting with a general statement of support for the administration’s plan to upgrade and modernize the city’s police station.
“We fully support mayor [John] Hamilton’s initiative to make the much needed improvements to working conditions at police and fire facilities,” Post said.
Post added, “I’ve worked at the 3rd Street police station now for over 20 years, and I can tell you that everyone would welcome a new and upgraded modern facility.”
If Bloomington Transit wanted to run buses outside of Bloomington’s city limits, what, if any, legal requirements would have to be met?
Specifically, what legal requirements would have to be met, in order for Bloomington Transit to serve educational and employment centers like Ivy Tech or Cook Medical—which are outside the city limits on the western edge of town?
In the last few years, the standard answer has been: An amendment to a local law would have to be enacted by the city council.
But a closer look at the local law, and a state statute, suggests that a change to the local law might not be needed.
Instead, the city council would just have to approve any proposed bus service outside the city’s boundaries.
A request from BT to run buses to specific locations outside city limits could presumably be placed on the city council’s agenda by BT—just like approval of its annual budget and tax rate is placed on the city council’s agenda. BT could not force the city council to grant approval.
But that stands in contrast to an ordinance that would change city code. BT does not have the right to place a proposed change to city code on the city council’s agenda, much less force the council to enact it.
On Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city council voted 8–0 to postpone consideration of a countywide local income tax increase until its next regular meeting, which is scheduled for May 4.
The vote to postpone came a few minutes after 9 p.m. That made for a meeting that lasted about two and a half hours. Councilmembers asked questions of the mayor and staff, heard another round of public commentary, and discussed the proposal among themselves.
The final approval of $5.8-million in general obligation bonds appeared on Tuesday’s agenda for Bloomington’s board of park commissioners.
It did not get a vote, because only two of the four park commissioners were attending the meeting in person.
A special meeting will be scheduled so that a vote can be taken.
A third commissioner attended Tuesday’s meeting by using the Zoom video-conferencing platform—which allowed the board to achieve its quorum of three members to transact other items on its agenda.
Under Indiana’s Open Door Law (ODL), an attendee who participates by electronic communication counts towards satisfying a quorum.
And under ordinary circumstances a remote attendee’s votes count towards whatever majority is needed for a particular item to be approved.
But under the ODL, there are some circumstances that preclude a member’s participation in a meeting using electronic communication. Among them are meetings when the governing body is taking final action to “establish, raise, or renew a tax.”