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City council reapproves agreements for animal shelter, building permits


Bloomington city councilorIsabel Piedmont-Smith speaks during a city council meeting Dec. 4 at the Showers Building. At the council's Jan. 8 meeting, council members discussed building permits and the Bloomington animal shelter. Joy Burton

The Bloomington City Council discussed and reapproved agreements for the Bloomington Animal Shelter and building permits for the city Wednesday at its first meeting of the year. 

The meeting was the first for recently elected council members Sue Sgambelluri, Ron Smith, Matt Flaherty and Kate Rosenbarger. The council discussed three resolutions, mostly reapproving agreements for the new year. 

The two resolutions are local agreements for building permits and animal shelter operation that are approved every year.

The council approved an agreement between Monroe County and Bloomington that directs residents to apply for building permits through the county rather than the city.

Philippa Guthrie, corporation counsel for the city, said the only exchange of money in this resolution is issuing the permits, but some of the council members questioned its efficiency. 

“It works pretty seamlessly between the county and cities,” Guthrie said. 

The council also approved an agreement between Monroe County, Ellettsville and Bloomington for the animal shelter's operation for this year. 

Virgil Sauder, the director of Animal Care and Control at the Bloomington Animal Shelter, said the reapproved resolution provides housing and care for animals in Ellettsville and Monroe County. It passed unanimously. 

Sauder commented on the progress of the shelter, saying that in 2003 the euthanization rate for animals was at 61% and is now around 6%. 

The final resolution the council discussed would establish standing committees, which are subsets of the council that would allow more time for the council members to speak with committee members and citizens. 

According to council member Steve Volan, it would also allow the council to learn more about certain topics that legislation covers. 

“It’s time to rethink the way we do business,” said Volan, the sponsor of the resolution. 

The resolution was received with some pushback. Council member Susan Sandberg said too much specialization could be harmful.

The council voted to postpone the vote to its Jan. 29 meeting. 

During the public comment period, David Keppel, a representative from the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, discussed the potential for conflict because the U.S. and Iran in the Middle East following the killing of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general.

He called on the council to pass a resolution supporting the prohibition of nuclear weapons, referencing a similar resolution passed regarding Iraq in 2003.

“The United States has come very close to a disastrous war with Iran,” Keppel said. “We hope that this council will take up such a resolution.”

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 15.

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