Monroe County councilor on possible local income tax increase: “This was not anything proposed by the county.”

Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, made a New Year’s Day announcement  that he wanted to see an additional 0.5 percent in local income tax collected countywide. Hamilton wants to spend the extra portion of tax money allocated to Bloomington  on climate action.

Under the current state statute, Bloomington’s city council has a 58-percent voting share on the county’s local income tax council. So a five-vote majority on Bloomington’s nine-member city council could enact the extra 0.5 percent of local income tax on all county residents. The voting shares are allocated based on population.

The mayor’s proposal hasn’t received air time at two regular meetings and two work sessions held by the Bloomington city council so far this year.

In contrast, county officials had a lot to say about the local income tax proposal at Tuesday’s first county council meeting of the year. They didn’t take any formal action. Continue reading “Monroe County councilor on possible local income tax increase: “This was not anything proposed by the county.””

Bonds for first step of Bloomington’s public housing conversion get final OK from city council

At its regular Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council voted unanimously to approve the issuance of up to $11 million in economic development notes to support the renovation of Bloomington’s public housing stock.

The bond issuance approved this week was for rehabbing two of the three Bloomington Housing Authority (BHA) properties—the Walnut Woods and Reverend Butler sites. BHA’s executive director, Amber Skoby, told the council that planning will start this summer for similar work on the third BHA site—the Crestmont Community.

“After that’s done, we won’t have any more public housing in Bloomington,” Skoby said.

Councilmember Steve Volan’s reaction conveyed amazement: “Does that mean you won’t have a job? I don’t understand.” Continue reading “Bonds for first step of Bloomington’s public housing conversion get final OK from city council”

No charges for protestors at Bloomington farmers market, says Monroe County prosecutor

Five protesters who were arrested at Bloomington’s farmers market on Nov. 9 last year,  will not be prosecuted for their actions, according to a statement issued Wednesday morning by Monroe County’s prosecutor. They had been given summonses for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

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Flanked by two Bloomington police officers on Nov. 9, 2019, after his arrest at the farmers market for a protest against white supremacy, is Forrest Gilmore wearing a purple unicorn costume. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The protest got national attention in part because of the inflatable purple unicorn costume worn by one of the protestors.

In the statement from the prosecutor’s office, Monroe County’s prosecutor, Erika Oliphant, is quoted saying, “My office has evaluated the specific facts and circumstances surrounding these citations, and we have decided that it is appropriate to decline prosecution in this instance.”

The specific facts of the situation included protest activity—holding signs and loud singing inside the market vendor area—directed at the Schooner Creek Farm stand. The owners of Schooner Creek were identified by local activists earlier in the year as having ties to a white supremacist group.

In late July last year, one protestor was arrested for similar activity—holding a sign near the Schooner Creek Farm stand. That protestor was also not prosecuted. Continue reading “No charges for protestors at Bloomington farmers market, says Monroe County prosecutor”

Monroe County election headquarter renovations OK’d ahead of 2020 primaries

On Wednesday morning at their work session, Monroe County commissioners approved about $39,000 worth of renovations to the old Johnson Hardware Building, aka Election Central, at 7th and Madison streets.

According to election supervisor Karen Wheeler, the work is supposed to take about three weeks. That should mean it will be done well before the May 5 primary election. Continue reading “Monroe County election headquarter renovations OK’d ahead of 2020 primaries”

The Kiln Collective: New owner for “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation”

On Tuesday afternoon, outside the kiln building of the old Showers Brothers Furniture Company, Mike Trotzke was handed ownership to a structure that Mayor John Hamilton moments before had called the “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation.”

Performing the handover was Bloomington’s redevelopment commission president, Don Griffin. He delivered a laugh line, which achieved its intended effect as he checked the metal on the ring: “Let’s make sure this isn’t my house key!”

The handover of the key fell to Griffin, because the RDC was the owner of the building, which it had purchased from Indiana University a few years ago along with the other real estate that makes up the Trades District. Continue reading “The Kiln Collective: New owner for “oven of Bloomington’s industrial activation””

Monroe County food and beverage tax: $6M in 23 months so far

Monroe County’s food and beverage tax advisory commission (FBTAC) convened its first meeting of the year on Tuesday afternoon.

Based on the numbers provided to commissioners, a smidgen over $6 million is the cumulative total that’s been generated by the 1-percent tax in the 23 months since it’s been collected.

At Tuesday’s meeting, officers for the year were selected, and revenue numbers were reviewed. Commissioners also set up their next meeting, on Feb. 10, when they’ll go over an annual report for last year. Continue reading “Monroe County food and beverage tax: $6M in 23 months so far”

Objection filed to Bloomington’s request to try again in effort to take 222 Hats building for parking garage

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Last Friday, attorneys for Juan Carlos Carrasquel, owner of the JuanSells.com building, filed an objection to Bloomington’s effort to have another try at acquiring the building from Carrasquel against the landowner’s wishes. Continue reading “Objection filed to Bloomington’s request to try again in effort to take 222 Hats building for parking garage”

UDO Update: Bloomington’s plan commission OKs city council amendments, elects officers, moves Trinitas PUD forward

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Jillian Kinzie adds the vice president tab to her nameplate, a position on Bloomington’s plan commission to which she was elected Monday night. (CATS screen grab)

At a meeting that took less than an hour Monday evening, Bloomington’s plan commission voted unanimously to approve the version of the updated unified development ordinance (UDO) that the city council adopted last year.

Commissioners also elected officers. Brad Wisler will continue as president, and Jillian Kinsey will serve as vice president.

The plan commission also sent a proposed planned unit development, from Trinitas Development, to the city council with a unanimous positive recommendation. The proposed project is on 39.29 acres on West 17th Street, southeast of the I-69 and SR 46 interchange.

The Trinitas development proposes to include 387 housing units, with a total of 825 bedrooms and 458 parking spaces. Trinities is proposing to turn over to the city 45 single-family lots to be used was whatever housing the city sees fit. Continue reading “UDO Update: Bloomington’s plan commission OKs city council amendments, elects officers, moves Trinitas PUD forward”

County, city leaders review draft interlocal agreement for convention center capital improvement board, set next meeting for Feb. 10

Several Bloomington and Monroe County officials met Monday evening to push ahead the $44-million convention center expansion project. They reviewed a draft interlocal agreement, circulated shortly before the meeting, that is intended to supplement statutory requirements for the eventual formation of a capital improvement board (CIB).

The three county commissioners, in addition to several members of the city and county councils, were joined by Bloomington’s deputy mayor, Mick Renneisen at the meeting they’d set at the end of last year.

Monday’s discussion centered on budgets, land, and appointments. Continue reading “County, city leaders review draft interlocal agreement for convention center capital improvement board, set next meeting for Feb. 10”

Bloomington city council tees up new local law to regulate non-consensual vehicle towing

If you leave your car in a private lot where you’re not allowed to park, you risk getting your vehicle towed at your own expense. That’s not really news—for Bloomington or any other place.

What is new for Bloomington is a proposed ordinance to regulate companies that provide towing service to parking lot owners. Such companies would have to pay the city $350 a year for a “non-consensual tow business license” and face, on first offense, a $2,500 fine for failure to obtain a license.

The $350 license fee is the same as what a one-year license cost for mobile food vendors in Bloomington, according to the staff memo in the city council’s information packet.

The ordinance will get a first reading next Wednesday night, which means no debate and no final action will be taken on it at that meeting. At most, the council could refer the proposed ordinance for consideration by its committee of the whole on the following Wednesday or some other time in the future. Continue reading “Bloomington city council tees up new local law to regulate non-consensual vehicle towing”