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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

Bloomington City council approves 2015 budget

Darryl Neher, the Council President and District V representative, presides over a vote to set wages for firefighters and police officers at the City Council Meeting at City Hall Wednesday.

The Bloomington City Council passed the 2015 budget Wednesday night. Six of the nine council members, enough for a quorum, were present at the meeting to approve the $36 million package.

The budget includes increases in salaries for firefighters and police officers, appointed officers, non-union and union city employees and elected city officials.

The council also approved a tax levy to pay a shortfall in 2014, an increase in funding for the Water and Wastewater departments, both part of the Utilities Department, and the Parks and Recreation Department.

The city is expected to have a surplus of $394,044 for 2015.

The final approval meeting comes after a process that has taken more than a month to propose and approve.

A series of four meetings were held in August for city departments to propose individual budgets to the council.

Council members were not allowed to ask questions during the hearings and were instead advised to send questions to individual departments in writing within the following days of the hearings.

The formal budget was proposed at a special session in ?September.

Two meeting attendees commented that not allowing the questions during previous budget ?meetings showed a lack of transparency.

District 6 council member Stephen Volan commented on the efficiency of asking questions later in writing.

Volan said more than 180 questions were asked and were more thorough because they were submitted later. The questions and answers are available online for ?reading.

Other city council members expressed approval of the process.

“I think that while it was efficient and preferable for the city council for obvious reasons, it came at the cost of transparency and public access,” Allison Chopra, one of the public commenters, said after the meeting. “The easiest way to access is to come to the meeting and feel like a participant when you get up and say something.”

Chopra, who said she frequently attends city council meetings, said she did not know the questions asked by council members after departmental hearings were online.

“I think that they could do a better job of communicating,” she said.

The adopted budget must be sent to the state by early November for approval.

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