Monroe County election board OKs 19 provisional ballots: “I love it when we get to accept it!”

At its Friday meeting, the three-member Monroe County election board voted to accept as valid 19 out of the 32 provisional ballots from the Tuesday, May 3 primary elections.

Provisional ballots are those that are cast by a voter, but set aside due to some question about whether they are valid. Provisional ballots allow a voter to make their choices for candidates, without requiring Election Day poll workers, in circumstances that might be hectic, to make a final decision on validity

Friday’s meeting was set to start at 12:01 p.m. Continue reading “Monroe County election board OKs 19 provisional ballots: “I love it when we get to accept it!””

Post-primary: Work continues on Monroe County election operations building, prep for fall election

view of the corner of a concrete block building in the process of getting painted. The left wall is beige. The right wall is the original color, which was blue.
View to the northwest of the Monroe County’s election operations building at the corner of 3rd and Walnut streets around midday on May 12, 2022.

A little more than a week after Tuesday’s primary elections concluded in Monroe County, work has started on preparation for voting in the Nov. 8 general election.

On Thursday morning, the county’s new election operations building, at the corner of 3rd and Walnut streets, started a planned cosmetic change.

By midday on Thursday, the building was halfway through its transformation from an iconic blue, reflecting its heritage as a NAPA auto parts store, to a more subdued earth tone.

The painting work is being done by Premier Painting, under a $9,850 contract approved by county commissioners in early March. Continue reading “Post-primary: Work continues on Monroe County election operations building, prep for fall election”

2023 budget notebook: Historic inflation, impact on pay get first look by Monroe County councilors

The past practice used by Monroe County to make a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for employees could lead to a historic fiscal impact on the 2023 budget.

That’s because the county’s fiscal body—the seven-member county council—has typically tried to key its COLA to the percentage increase in the consumer price index (CPI) between the previous December and the December before that.

That number is already in the books: 7.5 percent. That’s the percentage increase in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics midwest urban CPI between December 2020 and December 2021.

And it’s the biggest December-to-December percentage increase in the CPI since 1979 to 1980, when inflation was at 12.2 percent.

The question of how to approach employee compensation for next year’s budget got some initial discussion at the county council’s Tuesday night meeting. Continue reading “2023 budget notebook: Historic inflation, impact on pay get first look by Monroe County councilors”

2022 Democratic Party primary election notebook: Breakdown of results by precinct for recorder, county commissioner

The precinct-by-precinct numbers for Tuesday’s primary elections are now available on Monroe County’s website.

Numbers are still unofficial.

For county offices, Democrats saw four contested races on the ballot. The race for the nomination for circuit court judge was a four-way contest, won by Emily Salzmann. The race for the nomination for sheriff was a five-way contest, won by Ruben Marté.

The B Square took a closer precinct-by-precinct look at the other two races, which were two-way affairs. The race for recorder was close, almost a dead heat. The county commissioner’s race was not as close—about a 3:2 margin for the winner.

What both races showed was a detectable, even if not dramatic difference between inside and outside the city limits of Bloomington. In both races there was about a four-point difference in results inside and outside Bloomington. Continue reading “2022 Democratic Party primary election notebook: Breakdown of results by precinct for recorder, county commissioner”

Scanning, digitization project underway in Monroe County recorder’s office

A crew from US Imaging has set up a digital scanning operation in the Monroe County recorder’s office.

Their three-week mission, onsite at the county courthouse, is to scan the county’s whole collection of older deeds, back to 1817, as well as miscellaneous records. The images will then be digitized, which will make them searchable and more easily available.

The $164,000 contract with US Imaging for the scanning and digitizing work was approved by county commissioners on March 9.  The company is based in Saginaw, Michigan. Continue reading “Scanning, digitization project underway in Monroe County recorder’s office”

Bloomington city council enacts 0.69-point tax increase for Monroe County residents on 9–0 vote

On Wednesday night, Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton did not get the full 0.855-point local income tax (LIT) increase he had asked Bloomington’s city council to approve.

But the council did approve a 0.69-point increase, which will generate around $14.5 million annually in new revenue for the city of Bloomington. The additional 0.69 points brings the countywide income tax rate to 2.035 percent.

The new rate will take effect on Oct. 1.

Based on the category of income tax used for the increase (economic development) and the method used for distribution (population-based), the additional 0.69 points will also mean additional annual revenue of around $10 million for Monroe County, around $1 million for Ellettsville, and around $40,000 for Stinesville.

Those are the only four units of government that receive a distribution under the economic development category of local income tax.

The original proposal from Hamilton would have generated about $18 million in annual revenue for Bloomington. The intended expenditures fall into four categories: climate change preparedness and mitigation; essential city services; public safety; and quality of life. Continue reading “Bloomington city council enacts 0.69-point tax increase for Monroe County residents on 9–0 vote”

2022 Monroe County primary election results: As available [final unofficial]

The B Square is on site at Election Central at the corner of 7th and Madison streets in downtown Bloomington where the 28 duffel bags from each of today’s polling locations will be deposited by a bipartisan team of poll workers.

cropped i voted IMG_2070

The polls closed at 6 p.m.

Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne has said no results are anticipated until at least 8 p.m.

The B Square will provide status reports here until the final results are announced.

6:26 p.m. Election Central: No precincts have yet arrived with their materials to report in. Monroe County. Election board members are here as well as election supervisor Karen Wheeler.

The election board has three members: the county clerk (Nicole Browne) and one appointee by each of the two major party chairs. The two appointed members are Democrat Shruti Rana; and Republican Donovan Garletts.

Continue reading “2022 Monroe County primary election results: As available [final unofficial]”

May 3, 2022: Polls now open in Monroe County

At 6 a.m. sharp on Tuesday, a Monroe County election worker opened the door from inside the blue building at the corner of 3rd and Walnut streets: “The polls are now open! Come on in!” [raw audio of polls opening announcement]

black and white photo of A-frame Vote Here sign in a parking lot in front of a building.
Monroe County election operations (6 a.m. Tuesday May 3, 2022).

No voters were standing in line at the time.

It’s the former NAPA building, which now serves as Monroe County’s voting operations facility.

Although during early voting, voters countywide could cast a ballot at the voting operations building, only voters from seven different precincts can vote there on Election Day: Bloomington 03, Bloomington 07, Bloomington 22, and Perry 06, Perry 08, Perry 15, and Perry  31.

Voters who are trying to sort out where to vote can start at the secretary of state’s voter portal. On that web page, the link for “Voting Location” is in the row of blue boxes.

Voting ends at 6 p.m.

The B Square will file any reports through the day from different polling sites as updates to this article. Continue reading “May 3, 2022: Polls now open in Monroe County”

Analysis: Does a local law need to change so a Bloomington public bus can run outside the city?

Map showing bus routes going outside of Bloomington city limits
Excerpt of map showing configuration of routes recommended by Bloomington Transit consultant in 2019.

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.

Why is this legal issue about the geography of BT’s service area somewhat pressing? Continue reading “Analysis: Does a local law need to change so a Bloomington public bus can run outside the city?”