Last Wednesday was the Bloomington city council’s third night in a series of four hearings on the proposed 2021 budget.
Appearing on Wednesday’s agenda was the 2021 budget for the parks and recreation department, which again includes the city’s community farmers market. The origin story for the market dates back to 1975.
The market has been the subject of controversy since early in last year’s season, when a vendor with ties to white supremacist groups was identified by local activists. A lawsuit filed by the vendor and a counterclaim by the city is pending in federal court, with a trial date set for over a year from now.
Based on the opposing views of long-time councilmembers Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Dave Rollo, it would likely take a hard political fight to remove the farmers market from the city’s currently proposed 2021 budget.
A fight over the farmers market could take place behind closed doors—between councilmembers and the mayor—before Sept. 30, when the administration’s final version of budget is presented to the council. A vote to adopt the budget is scheduled for Oct. 14.
Or the debate could take place in public, if a councilmember proposes an amendment to the final 2021 budget that would defund the farmers market.
Also a possibility is that the farmers market remains, as councilmember Kate Rosenbarger put it on Wednesday, “the elephant in the room.”
The farmers market budget is in the ballpark of $150,000, or less than a tenth of one percent of the total city budget, if utilities and public transit are included. Continue reading “Farmers market gets brief mention at Bloomington 2021 budget hearings, still “elephant in room””