Billboard at 6th and Walnut Streets. This is looking west. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Pealer Bryniarski gives some remarks before the screening of “Motherload” on Saturday night. Emcee is Mallory Rickbeil. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Looking northeast at the corner of 6th and Walnut streets. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
On Saturday morning, the garage door to Bloomington’s Bike Project was open to a bright, crisp fall morning—a couple hours earlier than the posted hours, which start at noon. It’s a spot where loads of people walk past on any given Saturday, on their way to the Farmers Market, just north of there.
The open house for the bicycle cooperative was synched up with Cargo Bike Show & Tell, one of the events scheduled for Bloomington’s first annual Fall Family Bike Fest—which started Thursday and ran through Sunday.
On Thursday night, Bloomington’s city council approved just five of the six items on its agenda that make up the legislative package covering the roughly $170 million budget for 2020.
The one item that didn’t get approved was the salary ordinance that sets police and fire salaries—they’re part of the same ordinance. It was put off, with a motion to table, which passed 9–0 on the nine-member council.
The decision to table the question appeared to be based on a hope for some kind of breakthrough in collective bargaining negotiations between the city and the police union.
A meeting with the city, the police union and a mediator, is scheduled for Oct. 24. The talks, which started with four meetings in 2018, did not conclude with an agreement by the end of that year, which was the end of the contract. So Bloomington police have been working thorough 2019 under a so-called “evergreen” clause.
Councilmembers also got clarification Thursday night that the proposed salary ordinance for 2020 means police would paid the same next year as they were in 2018. “It doesn’t appear that anyone wants that,” councilmember Steve Volan said.
Two factors seemed to give councilmembers the comfort they needed to entertain the idea of putting off a vote on the police and fire salaries.
They learned Monday night from council attorney/administrator Dan Sherman that they did not need to pass the salary ordinance by Nov. 1—which is the deadline for passing tax rates and appropriations. They also learned from controller Jeff Underwood that he had authority to pay firefighters and police through the end of 2019, based on the current salary ordinance.
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.
Duke Energy electric meters for downtown Bloomington residence. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Monroe County councilor Eric Spoonmore calls on residents to give their input on Duke Energy’s proposed rate increase. Oct. 8, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
At Tuesday night’s regular meeting of Monroe County’s council, the seven-member group got a request for an extra $80,500 to pay for utilities at five county buildings. The extra expenditure was needed because of inaccurate estimates of usage, not the planned electric rate increase by Duke Energy.
But the extra appropriation led to a quick discussion of a current proposal by Duke Energy to raise its residential electric rates by around 19 percent.
Brad Wisler, newly elected president of Bloomington’s plan commission. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
The view to the north across Moores Pike, of the lot where the proposed PUD would be built. August 2019. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
During public commentary Moores Pike was described as “a pain in the butt to cross.” The closest crosswalk to the east is this one, almost a quarter mile to the east of the proposed PUD. August 2019. (Dave Askins/Beacon)
The view from the south of a proposed PUD on Moores Pike.
At Monday’s meeting of the Bloomington plan commission, a planned unit development (PUD) for 2.2 acres of land on Moores Pike, with 80 apartments in one 50-foot, four-story building, was forwarded to the city council with a negative recommendation.
A mixed use PUD proposed for the northwest corner of E. Longview Avenue and S. Pete Ellis Drive, with 19,000 square feet of commercial space, 264 apartments and a 306-space parking deck, was approved for its second of two required hearings, to be held in front of the plan commission next month.
Around two hours worth of arguments and testimony were heard Monday morning at a show cause hearing about Bloomington’s eminent domain action on the JuanSells.com property. It’s just south of the now already partially demolished 4th Street parking garage.
Bloomington wants the owner, Juan Carlos Carrasquel, to sell his building so that the footprint of a planned replacement parking garage can extend the full block from 4th Street down to 3rd Street. Drawn out during Monday morning’s testimony was the city’s offer to Carrasquel of $587,500 for the building. He purchased the building for $500,000 in spring of 2018.
The central legal issue in the case is whether the planned ground-floor retail space in the garage disqualifies it from the public purpose that a taking through eminent domain requires.
No bench ruling was made by judge Holly Harvey when the hearing concluded in Monroe’s circuit court at the Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center in downtown Bloomington.
Harvey did set a couple of deadlines. The first one is Oct. 18, for Carrasquel’s attorneys to file a reply to the memo filed last Friday by the city’s legal team. The deadline for the two sides to file a proposed set of findings and an order is Oct. 25.
Those deadlines mean a ruling might not come before Nov. 4, when the city’s plan commission is next scheduled to consider the proposed site plan for the replacement garage. The plan commission’s agenda for Monday, Oct. 7 shows the site plan as continued until Nov. 4. If there’s not a ruling by then, in the city’s favor, consideration of the site plan can be expected to be continued another month.
Monroe County Democratic Party table at Bloomington’s farmers market on Oct. 5, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Ballot preview for District 3 Bloomington city council.
Ballot preview for District 2 Bloomington city council.
Carolyn VanddeWiele, a Democrat who chairs Monroe County’s three-member election board, led the group at its meeting last Thursday through its routine final preparations for the Nov. 5 municipal elections.
Part of that prep included some announcements of key dates. Oct. 7 is the last day to register to vote in Bloomington municipal elections. And the first day for early voting is Oct. 21.
Both main items on the agenda reflected the fact that this year’s municipal elections in Bloomington will be held in just two out of the city’s council districts—District 2 and District 3.
On Saturday afternoon in downtown Bloomington, a blocked-off Kirkwood Avenue offered enough car-free asphalt for the Indiana University Student Foundation to run 54 heats of cyclists down a 200-meter course.
Kaethe Schroeder (SKI) and Robert Strobel (Black Key Bulls) prevailed in the finals of the women’s and men’s divisions, respectively. The Street Sprints are part of the fall cycling series tied to the Little 500 bicycle race held in the spring.
The first rounds of the Street Sprints included 24 heats, which winnowed the men and women’s fields from 167 total cyclists down to 32—16 men and 16 women. The remaining rounds were two-up sprints—only the winner advanced.
According to race director Andrea Balzano, this fall marked the ninth year of Street Sprints. For the first two years the event was held on North Jordan Avenue, but since 2013, it’s been held on Kirkwood.
Kirkwood, of course, is an avenue that’s storied not just in song (“Tonight, I’m gonna see my baby again, we’re gonna go walkin’ down Kirkwood, look at us go”) but in Bloomington’s public works budget presentations this year (“Pavement maintenance project for East Kirkwood Avenue…Delayed due to high contracting costs”).
The federal funds are awarded to states and localities based on based on violent crime statistics for each state and/or local unit of government.
The agenda item was not controversial, drawing one question from councilmember Allison Chopra, and a comment from councilmember Jim Sims.
Chopra wanted to know if the money was restricted in its use. The answer from Bloomington’s police chief, Mike Diekhoff, was: Yes, the money has to be spent on the items that the department applied for.