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.””

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”

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”

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”

Routine animal shelter agreement: A tasty, rounded treat for Bloomington city council’s first meeting of 2020

(Dogs pictured were available for adoption at Bloomington’s animal shelter on Jan. 6, 2020.)

On Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council kicks off 2020 with its first meeting of the year, when it handles organizational matters like the election of new officers.

Some other non-organizational action items also appear on Wednesday’s agenda, among them a $350K interlocal agreement between Bloomington, Ellettsville and Monroe County on splitting costs for Bloomington’s animal shelter. It’s a routine agreement that’s been ratified for several years based on an agreed-upon formula that assigns costs on a per-animal basis.

Another routine interlocal agreement, under which Monroe County administers the building code for the city and the county, also appears on Wednesday’s agenda. It dates back to 1996 and has been extended at regular intervals for the last quarter century.

A third action item the council is expected to handle on Wednesday is a proposal to use existing city code to establish standing committees to distribute some of the council’s work. Continue reading “Routine animal shelter agreement: A tasty, rounded treat for Bloomington city council’s first meeting of 2020”

SB 82: K-12 school buildings could be banned as Indiana polling places by 2024, based on risk to students

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Arlington Heights Elementary School, where voters in the Bloomington 14 precinct cast their ballots shortly after polls opened at 6 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2019. If SB 82 is passed, the school would not be eligible as a polling location starting in 2024.  (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Last Thursday’s meeting of Monroe County’s election board included an alert from board member Carolyn VandeWiele about a bill that’s been introduced for this year’s session of Indiana’s General Assembly.

Senate Bill 82 would, starting in Jan. 1, 2024, ban the use of elementary and secondary schools as polling locations. The motivation for the bill is security, according to its sponsor, Sen. Rick Niemeyer (R). Continue reading “SB 82: K-12 school buildings could be banned as Indiana polling places by 2024, based on risk to students”

Monroe County’s election board looking to finalize locations for polls, early voting in 2020

 

Monroe County’s three-member election board met Thursday to chart a course for 2020, a year when extraordinary levels of voter turnout are expected.

Standard issues that need to be settled include polling locations for early voting and on Election Day, training poll workers on new voting equipment, and recruiting people to work the polls.

Election supervisor Karen Wheeler encouraged people who want to help at the polls to call her office (812-349-2690). Even though it seems early to be be thinking about it, early voting for primaries starts in April, Wheeler said. She added, “We’re going to be needing a lot of people.” Continue reading “Monroe County’s election board looking to finalize locations for polls, early voting in 2020”

Column: Christmas colors, political parties at the convention center

Unlikely to be resolved, even after a thousand years of diplomacy, is the ongoing bitter dispute over the best Christmas color. It’s green, some will say. But some stubborn souls will always insist that it’s red.

An occasional centrist will advocate for white, ignoring the fact that it’s not even a color.

Still others will try to frame the debate in terms of the mutually essential qualities that red and green each add to the Christmas palette. Continue reading “Column: Christmas colors, political parties at the convention center”

Incumbent Monroe County councilors issue joint press release: They’re seeking re-election in 2020

In a joint press release issued Friday morning, the three incumbent at-large county council representatives for Monroe County announced they’re all seeking re-election. Continue reading “Incumbent Monroe County councilors issue joint press release: They’re seeking re-election in 2020”