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.

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

Public’s work continues in Bloomington under COVID-19 protocols

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused cancellation of several public meetings, Bloomington’s city council now has an additional, special meeting on its calendar set for March 25th.

The extra meeting was added so that the council can act to approve the re-funding of some waterworks bonds. The utilities services board approved the bond re-funding this past week. And the council’s action will set up the city to save about $2.3 million in interest.

Even if that kind of public business continues to get done, it’s not business as usual.

The city council chambers have been configured to reflect the most common precaution against spreading the COVID-19 virus: social distancing. About 60 audience chairs have been stacked to the sides of the chambers, leaving four rows in the center with at least a chair-wide gap between each seat. Continue reading “Public’s work continues in Bloomington under COVID-19 protocols”