Bloomington public safety budget hearings: 3 fire stations need rebuilt; proposed reduction in sworn police a point of contention

Tuesday night’s round of departmental budget hearings in front of Bloomington’s city council featured two of the city’s most basic services: police and fire protection. Together those departments make up 42 percent ($24 million) of the proposed 2021 general fund budget.

A highlight from the fire department’s presentation was the fact that three out of the city’s five stations need to be replaced, at a ballpark price of $5.5 million apiece. A previously identified potential need is for a sixth fire station, somewhere in the southwest quadrant of the city. That translates into a $22 million future expenditure on new fire houses.

Fire chief Jason Moore delivered the proposed budget for the department.

Getting most of the council’s and the public’s attention in the police budget presentation was Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed reduction in authorized sworn police officers from 105 to 100. The proposal swaps out five sworn officers for two social workers, two neighborhood resource officers and a data analyst.

Chief of police Mike Diekhoff delivered the budget presentation for his department.

Bloomington city council budget hearings continue Wednesday and Thursday starting at 6 p.m. each day.

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