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City government: what you missed this summer and what to watch this fall


Bloomington City Council President Dorothy Granger speaks Feb. 20 before the listening session about the armored vehicle. Ty Vinson Buy Photos

While students were home for the summer, the Bloomington city government pressed along. Even with a July summer recess, the city council passed legislation and made progress on issues it will continue to deliberate in the coming months. Here’s a roundup on some of the biggest topics city council addressed this summer.

Public Safety Local Income Tax: approved, and continuing

One of the most important issues covered during the summer was the Public Safety Local Income Tax, council President Dorothy Granger said. The Public Safety Local Income Tax committee responsible for this tax, composed of a coalition of council representatives from Bloomington, Ellettsville, Monroe County and Stinesville, allocates funds specifically for public safety. Some towns are using funds for new dispatch centers, while others are purchasing breathing devices for fire departments. Granger said Bloomington will use the funds to support the Bloomington Police Department and fire department.

The council will continue to debate nuances of this tax in the fall. A proposed legislation would require city council approval for interdepartmental transfers of $100,000 or more of this tax revenue, Granger said.

The BearCat: setting the stage

Another significant piece of legislation, passed toward the end of June, created laws governing the use of the BearCat, Bloomington’s armored truck that was introduced in town this July. After a heated spring of public debate over the necessity of this vehicle, the legislation establishes a set of rules overseeing what the vehicle can and cannot be used for.

The BearCat was purchased for Bloomington’s Critical Incident Response Team, a special operations group deployed only for “especially hazardous police duties,” according to the ordinance. A situation requiring this team, such as an active shooter or unreachable victim, would not necessarily require use of the BearCat.

The vehicle cannot be deployed for crowd control or public demonstrations. Affixed firearms, water cannons and “any other affixed device capable of launching or firing a projectile” cannot be used on the truck, according to the ordinance.

Parking and neighborhood zones: coming up

At the end of May and beginning of June, the council began looking at parking ordinances and neighborhood zones, an issue that may affect students, council member Allison Chopra said. Changing current zoning would alter parking rules, of note for students living off campus. There will be no changes to parking meter costs, but other parking fees could differ. Another proposal slated for deliberation this fall, which Chopra said would affect many students, would limit free parking in garages from three hours to one.

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