Last Wednesday, Monroe County commissioners awarded about $21,000 more in grants to pandemic-affected tourism-related businesses outside the city limits of Bloomington. That brings the total amount awarded by the county to $266,442.
The food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC), has recommended that the county can use up to $400,000 of such tax tax proceeds to help businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Bloomington has a corresponding loan program for up to $2 million of food and beverage tax proceeds. Through last Wednesday, the city’s loan numbers looked the same as the week before—$939,600 has been awarded to 34 businesses. All of the submitted applications had been processed as of last Wednesday.
On Thursday, the city of Bloomington used a seven-day out clause in its contract with Ken’s Westside Service and Towing to terminate its contract with the company for public tows. Those are tows that are requested by city police, not private property owners.
The company could still eventually be licensed by the city to do private tows, under the city’s new program regulating companies who do such work.
Termination of the contract for public tows was the city’s response to a self-recorded video of a racist statement posted online by the owner’s son, commenting on the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd in late May. In the video, the son says: “That officer did us a favor… Ya’ll can hate me, do whatever…” In the video he’s wearing the company’s uniform shirt—he was an employee.
The officer to which the remark referred was Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who on May 25 pinned Floyd down with a knee-on-neck hold for about nine-minutes, killing him, a scene that was caught on video. It was the event that prompted nationwide protests against police brutality, including the local Enough is Enough march last week and the BLM-sponsored Black Against the Wall Facebook discussion.
Monroe County’s health administrator Penny Caudill said Wednesday that last week’s local health emergency order on COVID-19 would likely be replaced at week’s end with one that allows barbershops and hair salons to re-open and restaurants to offer dine-in service, starting Saturday, May 16. [Updated: May 14, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. The order has been issued.]
The county’s current order is stricter than Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan announced May 1.
The local order—which was also issued on May 1, and maintained the same kind of business closures and stay-at-home directives as the governor’s “Hunker Down, Hoosiers” order had—is set to expire at the end of the day on Friday.
The new local order is expected to be effective through May 31, Caudill said.
Ten Monroe County business owners outside the city limits of Bloomington will be getting an email sometime Wednesday with an agreement for COVID-19 relief grant funds. Once the agreements are signed, the county auditor’s office will be able to cut checks to the businesses.
A bit after 1 p.m. on Friday, under 24 hours after the form was launched, five completed applications had been received for the loans, which have a limit of $50,000 per business. Another five dozen or so applications were in the works, according the Bloomington’s director of public engagement, Mary Catherine Carmichael.
Sanitation worker uses a mechanical arm to empty a Bloomington solid waste cart. Screengrab from city of Bloomington video.
Screengrab of CATS broadcast of March 3, 2020 board of public works meeting showing Adam Wason, director of public works.
Starting in the April billing cycle, Bloomington residents will pay more every month for trash and recycling service. That’s the result of a unanimous vote on the three-member board of public works at its regular meeting on Tuesday.
In round numbers, customers will pay between $3.50 and $23 more a year, depending on the size of the trash cart they use.
The fee increase is due to costs that are charged to the city by Republic Services for processing recycled materials. Those costs have replaced payments the city previously received (“rebates”) for its recycling commodities, according to Bloomington’s director of public works, Adam Wason.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Wason spitballed a possible new way of paving local streets.
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I live in downtown Bloomington, upstairs from a place called Function Brewing—where the names of the handcrafted beer all have mathematical themes. My favorite is called Theorem, and it’s the one I always order. Every time.
Another coffee shop has opened in downtown Bloomington: Poindexter Coffee at The Graduate, 210 E. Kirkwood Ave. Now serving a limited selection of food, it will offer its full menu of sandwiches and pastries starting Feb. 8. Hours are 6:30 a.m. til 9 p.m.