Bloomington’s city councilmembers want mayor John Hamilton’s administration to make policy choices that are consistent with the community’s values. And they want to see those choices reflected in the annual budget.
Otherwise put, Bloomington’s city council is like any other city council in America.
It’s a reasonable and normal expectation for the legislative branch of local government that the budget will be a reflection of local community priorities.
And that’s why the annual budget is the most important legislation considered by the city council every year.
But the budget is not the only piece of legislation that the city council could take up in the course of a calendar year. The legislative body does not need to wait for the administration to propose the annual budget or any other law.
Bloomington’s city council has, on occasion, proven that it’s aware of its own ability to originate new local laws.
For example, when some councilmembers determined that prohibiting turns on red lights at several additional downtown intersections would improve pedestrian safety, they initiated a traffic ordinance and worked with the city staff to get the details right. It was enacted as local law by the city council in early April.
But shifting itself out of park and into legislative gear is not an approach that appears to be favored by the council.
And that’s too bad.
On the upside, during budget season, some councilmembers seem to have sorted out a good answer to this question: What’s the clearest way to signal to the mayor what a majority of city councilmembers think? Take an actual vote. Continue reading “Column: Bloomington city council needs to shift out of park, into legislative gear”