Bloomington council delays 2022 budget vote until Oct. 27: Will mayor concede on police, climate?

On Wednesday, when a decision was scheduled on the 2022 Bloomington budget, the city council chose to recess its meeting without voting, less than 90 minutes after it was called to order.

The recess came when it became apparent that the mayor’s budget did not have majority support on the nine-member council to pass that night.

Some councilmembers, like Dave Rollo, say that in order to support the 2022 budget, it has to include a re-opening of the collective bargaining agreement with the police union and a $5,000 base pay increase for sworn officers.

Other councilmembers, like Isabel Piedmont-Smith, say that in order to support the 2022 budget, it has to include an appropriation for a new job at the city—director of climate action.

That’s not an exhaustive list of all the changes councilmembers say they want to see, before they’ll vote to adopt the 2022 budget.

In any case, councilmembers want Bloomington mayor John Hamilton to make further revisions to the roughly $107 million budget, before they take it up again in two weeks. That amount does not include the budgets for Bloomington Transit (BT) and city of Bloomington utilities (CBU).

Before recessing its meeting, the council approved two of the appropriation ordinances that are part of the six-ordinance package of legislation that makes up the annual budget. Getting unanimous approval were the budgets for BT and city of Bloomington utilities CBU.

On Oct. 27, in addition to the appropriation ordinance for the basic city budget, the council will still have on its agenda three salary ordinances—one for police and fire, one for other city employees, and one for elected officials. Continue reading “Bloomington council delays 2022 budget vote until Oct. 27: Will mayor concede on police, climate?”

Analysis | Bloomington’s final 2021 budget proposal: Six of city’s proposed 11.1 new positions are for parking services

The final version of the 2021 budget proposal from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton was released on Friday as a part of the city council’s Sept. 30 meeting information packet.

In the packet, a memo from the head of the city’s human resources department highlights one significant difference between the narrative about the budget presented in mid-August and the budget that the council will be asked to adopt.

That difference is the addition of a half dozen new parking services positions compared to last year, at a total cost of $398,870. They’re being added in connection to the planned opening of two new parking garages next year.

The six new parking services positions make up more than half of the 11.1 total new positions in the 2021 budget across the city’s whole organization.

The 1.6 positions that were a prominent part of the administration’s mid-August “belt-tightening” narrative about the budget are general fund positions. One is for a transportation demand management employee. The other 0.6 fraction is for human resources.

An additional 3.5 dispatcher positions are funded out of the public safety local income tax. The dispatch center is a joint effort between the city and the county. Those positions were mentioned specifically as a part of the written narrative from the police department in mid-August.

The six parking services positions don’t seem to have been a part of the administration’s mid-August narrative about new positions in the 2021 budget. Narrative aside, what about the numbers?

Were the parking services positions included in the dollar figures for the mid-August 2021 budget proposal, or weren’t they?

Responding to a request for clarification from The Square Beacon, the mayor’s office said on Monday, “The parking services positions were included in the dollar amounts associated with the mid-August budget proposal.”

Continue reading “Analysis | Bloomington’s final 2021 budget proposal: Six of city’s proposed 11.1 new positions are for parking services”

Bloomington police union gets latest contract proposal from city

One piece of unfinished business from Oct. 10, when the Bloomington city council approved the rest of the 2020 budget  was the salary ordinance for police officers and firefighters.

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An officer from Bloomington Police department is assigned for duty at city council meetings. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

That final piece of business could be finished by the end of the year, after a meeting on Oct. 24, between city officials and the police union.  The city presented the union with its latest proposal for a contract, president of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Paul Post told The Beacon.

In late September, union officers told the city council at regular meeting that since mid-2018, the two sides had exchanged eight proposals, each with a counterproposal, for a total of 16 proposals. The most recent meeting would make nine rounds for a total of 18 proposals exchanged.

The city’s most recent proposal could lead to ratification by the union, and the approval  of the salary ordinance for public safety workers by the end of the year. The contract for the firefighters is not an open question, but the salary ordinance lumps police officers and firefighters into the same piece of legislation. Continue reading “Bloomington police union gets latest contract proposal from city”

Monroe County’s council OKs $83.1 million “maintenance budget,” leaves compensation, justice reform for future

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Monroe County Council on budget approval night, Oct. 8, 2019. From left: Cheryl Munson, Trent Deckard, Eric Spoonmore, Shelli Yoder, Kate Wiltz, Geoff McKim, and Marty Hawk. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Monroe County now has what county councilor Geoff McKim on Tuesday night called a “maintenance budget” for 2020, which includes $83.1 million worth of expenditures. That’s about 4.8 percent more than the $79.3 million budgeted last year.

McKim said at Tuesday’s county council meeting that there are two issues not addressed in the 2020 budget, but would need attention in 2021—employee compensation and justice reform issues.

If employee compensation is not competitive in the labor market, the county needs to fund more in compensation, he said. Once the results of an in-progress criminal justice reform study come back, it would be possible to make systematic, prioritized investments for facilities and services alike, McKim said. That could require more investments in everything from mental health to the jail.

The vote on the seven-member council at Tuesday night’s meeting was 6–1, with the lone dissent coming from Marty Hawk. She said she supported almost everything in the budget, but did not support the $3.3 million general obligation (GO) bond.

The GO bond amount had been reduced by a vote of the council the night before, from $5.48 million, to the $3.3 million that appeared on Tuesday night’s proposal. Hawk made a motion Tuesday night to reduce it even more, to $2.6 million, and she had a list of the specific projects she wanted it to fund. The motion died for lack of a second.

The vote on the adoption of the budget is a separate question from the issuance of the bonds. A public hearing on the bond was held Tuesday night, but the vote on issuance was postponed until Oct. 22.

Also put off, until an unspecified time, was the purchase of property northwest of the I-69 and SR-46 interchange. The county is looking to acquire the quarry-hole-dotted land to establish a limestone heritage destination site. Continue reading “Monroe County’s council OKs $83.1 million “maintenance budget,” leaves compensation, justice reform for future”