At the Bloomington city council’s first meeting of the year on Wednesday, councilmembers organized themselves for the coming 12 months by electing Dave Rollo as president, Dorothy Granger as vice president and Steve Volan as parliamentarian.
The election of a president and vice president of the council is required by state statute. Election of a parliamentarian is required by city code.
The parliamentarian job is one that historically has not rotated among councilmembers as much as president and vice president. Volan is continuing his service as parliamentarian from last year. Based on city council membership information provided by the city clerk’s office, this will be the fifth time Volan has served as the council’s parliamentarian, in this, his 16th, year of council service. Timothy Mayer served eight times as parliamentarian in 25 years on the city council. Lloyd Olcott served 14 times as parliamentarian in his 16 years of council membership.
Granger served last year as president and before that three times as vice president. This is her eighth year of council service.
Rollo comes to the role of council president having served twice before as president—in 2015 and 2007—and once as vice president, in 2006.
The pattern that Rollo followed in 2006 and 2007—serving as vice president one year and in the immediately following year as president—is somewhat common, even if it was not observed this year. Last year’s vice president was Isabel Piedmont-Smith. Her earlier stint on the council, from 2008 to 2011, included a year as vice president immediately followed by a year as president. In the 52 years since 1967, the vice-president-then-president pattern is attested 20 times.
(Based on city council membership records provided by the city clerk’s office, 1967 could be considered the start of the council’s 9-member modern era. In the seven years before that the city council had eight members, and before 1960 it was a seven-member group. A compilation of the clerk’s records in a different format is provided below as an embedded Google Sheet.)
Service in at least some prior year as vice president (or president) is a robust pattern for the person who has been elected president of the city council over the last half century. Just 13 times in the last 52 years has the council elected a president who had no prior experience as vice president or president of the council. Recent examples of presidents who were elected without that kind of experience include Darryl Neher in 2013 and Susan Sandberg in 2008.
The salary ordinance approved last year for elected officials in 2019 included (for the first time, it appears) some additional compensation for the council president and vice president. Beyond the $16,127 that councilmembers receive, the president receives an additional $1,000 and the vice president an additional $800.
The vote on the 2019 salary ordinance (numbered 18-19) taken by the council on Oct. 11, 2018, is recorded in the meeting minutes like this:
Ordinance 18-19 To Fix the Salaries of All Elected City Officials for the City of Bloomington for the Year 2019
Volan moved and it was seconded that Ordinance 18-19 be introduced and read by title and synopsis only. The motion was approved by voice vote. Lucas read the legislation by title and synopsis, giving the committee do-pass recommendation of Ayes: 9, Nays: 0, Abstain: 0.
Volan moved and it was seconded that Ordinance 18-19 be adopted.
Shaw presented the legislation to the Council.
Piedmont-Smith explained that the additional amounts to be paid to the Council president and vice president were allowed under city code. She explained that money was meant to compensate for the additional work that falls to the president and vice president. Sims agreed that the additional compensation for those positions
was well deserved.
Vote to adopt Ordinance 18-19 [6:51pm]
The motion to adopt Ordinance 18-19 received a roll call vote of
Ayes: 9, Nays: 0, Abstain: 0.
What are the duties of Bloomington’s city council president? From the city code:
2.04.020 – Duties of president.
The president shall have general direction of the council chambers and shall preserve order and decorum. The president shall rule on all points of order subject to an appeal to the council by any two members, shall state all questions properly proposed, shall put all questions which come to a vote, and shall declare the results of each vote. After any ordinance, resolution, address or order is adopted by the council, the president shall certify such action and certification shall be attested by the city clerk. In the absence of the president, the vice-president shall preside.
The $16,127 that all councilmembers will be paid in 2019 is two percent more than last year. The two percent increase is the same incremental increase that councilmembers have decided for the last half decade. The last significant bump in councilmember pay came in 2000, when it rose from $7,620 to $10,500 from 1999 to 2000, which was a 37.8 percent increase.
In the embedded Google Sheet below, cells for years from 1967 to 2019 are color-coded to reflect the officers of the city council. Green: president | Yellow: vice president | red: parliamentarian.