Bloomington corporation counsel on city council’s police pay resolution: “This is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.”

The backdrop of a city council work session on Friday was news that another Bloomington police officer had unexpectedly left the department the day before, following on the heels of a resignation the previous week.

The focus of the work session was to consider a resolution calling for increased police pay, which the council might approve at a special meeting next Wednesday.

Weighing in at the work session against the council’s resolution was the city’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, who sees it as an intrusion into the collective bargaining process between the administration and the police union.

Guthrie said, “[The resolution] is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.” She added, “I’m not positive, but I believe that the $5,000 figure, or whatever else you’ve got in the resolution, would have come from the police union. So in effect, you are bargaining with the police union.”

The $5,000 figure is the amount specified in the resolution as an increase in pay for all sworn officers.

The resolution is sponsored by councilmembers Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg, and Ron Smith. [Updated on Sept. 8 at 5:32 p.m. In a joint statement released by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton and police chief Mike Diekhoff, they discouraged the idea of re-opening the collective bargaining process. However, Hamilton and Diekhoff supported the idea of increasing the recruitment and retention pool proposed in the 2022 budget from $250,000 to $500,000. The new amount would work out to roughly $5,000 per officer.  Link: Text of 2021-09-08 joint statement]

Continue reading “Bloomington corporation counsel on city council’s police pay resolution: “This is in some ways the council taking over the bargaining process.””

Bloomington city council to mull resolution on “certain inadequacies within the police budget”

The proposed 2022 budget for Bloomington’s police department will be the topic of a city council work session on Friday at noon, and a special meeting of the council set for 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday (Sept. 8).

Up for discussion will be a resolution sponsored by councilmembers Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg and Ron Smith that “addresses certain inadequacies within the police budget,” according to Rollo.

News of the possible resolution came at the end of the city council’s Wednesday meeting, during the time when the council addresses scheduling matters.

The resolution is likely to call for an increase to the proposed 2022 police budget so that pay for officers can be bumped, which would probably require an earlier-than-scheduled reopening of the collective bargaining agreement with FOP Lodge 88.

Those are options that the city council discussed last week during its hearing on the police department’s budget. Continue reading “Bloomington city council to mull resolution on “certain inadequacies within the police budget””

Bloomington city council critical on first night of 2022 budget hearings: police, parking, sidewalks

On Monday, the first night of departmental hearings on Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed 2022 budget, several city councilmembers conveyed their dissatisfaction about one or more aspects of next year’s financial plan.

Those points of friction included police officer compensation, a parking cashout program for city employees, and alternative transportation funding.

Even though Tuesday is the night scheduled for public safety budgets, Hamilton fielded sharp questions on Monday from councilmembers Dave Rollo and Susan Sandberg about the adequacy of compensation for Bloomington police officers.

Rollo even floated the idea that the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the police union could be reopened to provide higher compensation. The current CBA, approved in late 2019, runs through 2022.

Rollo and Sandberg have concerns about recruitment and retention of police officers. Bloomington currently has 92 sworn officers, which is 13 fewer than the 105 that are authorized.

Rollo doesn’t see the $250,000 pool of retention and recruitment funds in the 2022 budget as adequate.

At one point during Monday’s meeting, Sandberg asked Hamilton, “Do you feel the same sense of urgency that some of us do from having talked to our officers that are currently stressed to a point that I think is almost bordering on a crisis?”

The topic of police staffing levels is certain to be a highlight of Tuesday’s budget hearing, when police chief Mike Diekhoff presents his department’s budget.

Unlike the individual departmental budget presentations, Hamilton’s overview of the budget on Monday was not subjected to an informal straw poll.

The dissatisfaction expressed by the council at Monday’s meeting was not confined to the mayor’s overview.

If the city council’s straw polls had any legal significance, only two of the six departmental budgets presented on Monday would have been approved. The tallies on the straw polls (yes-no-abstain) were: human resources (3–1–5); legal (8–0–1); information technology (4–0–5); council office (6–2–1); controller (4–4–1); and mayor’s office (5–0–4). Continue reading “Bloomington city council critical on first night of 2022 budget hearings: police, parking, sidewalks”

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”

Bloomington public safety budget hearings: 3 fire stations need rebuilt; proposed reduction in sworn police a point of contention

Tuesday night’s round of departmental budget hearings in front of Bloomington’s city council featured two of the city’s most basic services: police and fire protection. Together those departments make up 42 percent ($24 million) of the proposed 2021 general fund budget.

A highlight from the fire department’s presentation was the fact that three out of the city’s five stations need to be replaced, at a ballpark price of $5.5 million apiece. A previously identified potential need is for a sixth fire station, somewhere in the southwest quadrant of the city. That translates into a $22 million future expenditure on new fire houses.

Fire chief Jason Moore delivered the proposed budget for the department.

Getting most of the council’s and the public’s attention in the police budget presentation was Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed reduction in authorized sworn police officers from 105 to 100. The proposal swaps out five sworn officers for two social workers, two neighborhood resource officers and a data analyst.

Chief of police Mike Diekhoff delivered the budget presentation for his department.

Bloomington city council budget hearings continue Wednesday and Thursday starting at 6 p.m. each day.

Continue reading “Bloomington public safety budget hearings: 3 fire stations need rebuilt; proposed reduction in sworn police a point of contention”

Bloomington mayor: Proposed 2021 budget will reduce sworn police from 105 to 100

During a panel discussion with other city officials, live streamed Thursday afternoon on Facebook, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton put numbers to an idea he mentioned in a speech two weeks ago.

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The 2021 budget proposal, which the mayor will eventually present to the city council in mid-to-late August, would reduce the number of sworn officer positions with the Bloomington police department (BPD) from 105 to 100.

The budget is scheduled for adoption in October.

The idea is to re-allocate the money for five sworn officers to at least five new non-sworn positions—a mix of social workers and neighborhood resource specialists, Hamilton said.

The move comes in the context of calls nationwide and locally to “defund the police.” Continue reading “Bloomington mayor: Proposed 2021 budget will reduce sworn police from 105 to 100”

Bloomington public safety board briefed on 10 sworn officer vacancies, non-arrest approaches to policing

At a special Tuesday night meeting, Bloomington’s five-member board of public safety was briefed on the monthly activity of the city’s fire and police departments.

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Screenshot of Jun 23, 2020 meeting of Bloomington’s board of public safety.

One highlight was the 10 open jobs for sworn officers reported by Bloomington police department (BPD) captain Ryan Pedigo. The 2020 budget authorizes 105 positions.

Board members got some reaction from BPD chief Mike Diekhoff to calls that have been made across the country and locally to defund police. Continue reading “Bloomington public safety board briefed on 10 sworn officer vacancies, non-arrest approaches to policing”

Bloomington city councilmembers want more police officers in 2020 budget, more data

Two additional patrol officers, which would bring Bloomington’s total sworn police force to a total of 105, are a part of the 2020 budget that the chief of police, Mike Diekhoff, presented to the city council on Tuesday night.

Some councilmembers told Diekhoff they wanted to see more officers added than just the two. And they wanted more data from Diekhoff as they weigh how to approach the eventual adoption of the budget in October. Continue reading “Bloomington city councilmembers want more police officers in 2020 budget, more data”