From police, to parking, to public works, to bidets: Bloomington 2021 budget Q&A flush with facts

Late August marked the conclusion of a four-night series of city council hearings on Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed 2021 budget. Shortly after that, councilmembers submitted written questions to city staff.

In the second week of September, staff responses to councilmember questions were posted in a Q&A document on the city’s budget web page.

Whether the concerns expressed in the written questions or during the budget hearings will result in changes to the budget won’t be known for sure until the final budget is presented to the city council on Sept. 30.

A vote to adopt Bloomington’s city budget is set for Oct. 14. Continue reading “From police, to parking, to public works, to bidets: Bloomington 2021 budget Q&A flush with facts”

City council 2020 budget talks look towards ending leaf collection, increasing trash data

The city’s director of public works, Adam Wason, stood at the podium for three hours at Thursday’s 2020 departmental budget hearings held by the Bloomington city council.

He had to present budget proposals for seven different divisions in his department: admin ($1,918,580), animal care and control ($1,903,971), fleet ($3,358,141), street and traffic ($8,331,136), sanitation ($4,360,802), main facilities ($1,192,487) and parking facilities ($2,397,734).

The seven divisions together made for a 2020 public works budget that totals about $23.5 million. It’s an amount that’s more than any other city department, except for utilities, which is proposed at $46.6 million. In contrast to public works, which is supported by general fund money, utilities gets its funding from rate payers.

Even if it’s safe for the 2020 budget, funding for one public works activity—with a total cost pegged at about $936,000—could disappear in 2021: curbside leaf collection. Councilmembers floated the idea of eliminating it next year or at least reducing its scale by promoting composting.

Responding to the council, Wason indicated his support for cutting the program. And deputy mayor Mick Renneisen told the council, “The administration is receptive to a change in the leafing program…”

Renneisen also indicated support for a long-term plan to consolidate public works divisions all under one roof. He said it’s on a timeline that’s far enough away that it doesn’t appear in any of the city’s current long-range capital plans.

While councilmembers, including Steve Volan, generally reacted positively to the presentations Wason gave, Volan was critical of the lack of data provided for one of the divisions: sanitation. Volan wanted some basic data to appear on a slide about trash collection, like the 6,771 tons collected in 2018—which was about 20 percent more than the 5,683 tons the year before. Continue reading “City council 2020 budget talks look towards ending leaf collection, increasing trash data”