On Wednesday night, Bloomington’s city budget got just seven votes of support from the nine-member city council.
In the approved budget, general fund expenditures for 2021 decreased to around $95 million, from around $99 million in 2020.
Nothing significant changed from the time the budget was first proposed in mid-August. The budget assumes a new engineering department, but that will require some future legislative action by the council.
Over the objections of some councilmembers, the new transportation demand management (TDM) position will have the economic and sustainable development department as a home, instead of the planning and transportation department.
The number of budgeted sworn police officers stayed the same as in the mid-August proposal—100, which is down from the 105 that are authorized this year. But on Wednesday night, the theoretical maximum was explicitly set at 105 through an amendment to the police and firefighter salary ordinance.
Matt Flaherty, one of four first-term councilmembers, cast votes against the salary ordinance that covers most city employees and against the basic appropriation ordinance. Those are two of the six pieces of legislation that make up the annual budget package.
About his dissent, Flaherty said, “I don’t feel like I’ve impacted this budget at all, in part because of the procedural shortcomings in how we approach budgeting and the fact that we don’t have a defined structure for collaboration and compromise.”
City council president Steve Volan was absent.
A highlight from the 2021 appropriation ordinance included a reduction in funding for sworn police officers, compared to 2020 budgeted numbers, from 105 to 100. The funding that would have paid for five police officers is allocated instead to non-sworn positions, which would be a mix of social workers, neighborhood resource specialists, and a data analyst.
A amendment sponsored by councilmembers Susan Sandberg and Sue Sgambelluri revised the salary ordinance covering police officers and firefighters to include a statement saying, “The maximum number of sworn officers within the Police Department for the year 2021 shall be set at 105.”
Because the amendment to the salary ordinance did not change the dollar amounts of any appropriations—those are made in a separate ordinance—Sandberg called the amendment “largely symbolic.” The amendment passed on a 5–3 vote, with Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger and Isabel Piedmont-Smith dissenting. Continue reading “Bloomington city council OKs symbolic amendment supporting police, adopts 2021 budget on 7–1 vote”