At its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council unanimously approved $626,000 in spending from the city’s general fund, along with an appropriation of $1.3 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money.
After adding another $233,600 in spending for the parks department, and a transfer of $1,875,851 between two kinds of motor vehicle fund, the total for the appropriation ordinance approved by the city council on Wednesday was just a smidgen over $4 million.
The general fund spending will draw on money that was budgeted for 2022, but not spent in that year. If it were not appropriated now, it would revert back to the general fund, and count as a part of the fund balance, from which future appropriations could also be made.
At just a smidgen over $15 million, Bloomington Transit’s preliminary budget for 2022 is about 3.7 percent more than last year’s approved total amount.
That’s the number that Bloomington Transit’s general manager Lew May presented to BT’s five-member board at its meeting last Tuesday.
Some of that increase is due to an increase in employee compensation. The preliminary budget is based on a 3-percent increase in wages. How much the increase actually turns out to be will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the drivers, who are represented by AFSCME Local 613.
Those negotiations will need to take place over the next few months, because BT’s labor agreement ends on Dec. 31, 2021.
The timing for the back-and-forth between BT and drivers will coincide broadly with BT’s transition from May’s leadership, who has served 22 years as general manager, to John Connell’s, who was the board’s pick last week to succeed May. Connell is now operations manager for the Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation.
BT’s board will likely vote on the final budget at its August meeting. The budget will then be presented to Bloomington’s city council for review and approval, in a separate vote from the city’s own budget.
For a firefighter first class, the agreement calls for a 1-percent raise in 2021 to $54,625 in base pay. A 2-percent raise each year after that, through 2024, brings a firefighter’s base pay to $57,969.
According to a memo from the city’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, the city will be compensating firefighters by a total of about $2 million more, over the four-year term of the contract.
At the city council’s public safety committee review of the contract on Dec. 9, one concern raised by councilmember Jim Sims was about the diversity of the fire department. Fire chief Jason Moore reported a current department profile of about 5 percent women, and between 3 to 4 percent Black and or people of color.
Moore said that the department is working to recruit a more diverse pool of applicants, in part by supporting the Hoosier Hills Career Center in the Monroe County Community School Corporation and the Ivy Tech fire science program.