The Bloomington City Council voted to recommend establishing a COVID-19 relief fund as well as to make changes to city and public safety position titles and salaries.
The council unanimously recommended an ordinance establishing the American Recovery Plan Act Fund to aid in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting effects on the community.
The Indiana State Board of Accounts requires governing bodies to adopt an ordinance creating an ARPA fund and to engineer a plan detailing the allotment of funds, according to the legislative packet.
The fund will comprise two installments of emergency funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 totaling an estimated $22.1 million. The city received its first distribution May 20 and will receive the remaining amount in 2022, according to the packet.
Philippa Guthrie, City of Bloomington Corporation Counsel, said the city has approximately $11 million in its first allotment.
According to the packet, the U.S Department of the Treasury mandates ARPA funding must be used on certain conditions, including a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting economic effects, premium pay to essential workers, city services funding and necessary investments in water, sewage or broadband infrastructure.
The department guidelines of how ARPA funding is spent is flexible, Guthrie said, and can be used for a multitude of issues including affordable housing and the arts. She said they have acknowledged the pandemic has affected communities in a widespread way.
“The pandemic has hit low-income and communities of color, more so than other communities,” Guthrie said. “For that reason, the funds would be allowed to be used for a broad range of things that disproportionately affected low income and communities of color.”
The city is looking into how to spend the funding through projects and actions to establish city goals and aid the consequences of the pandemic, Guthrie said.
“We have this great opportunity to do a lot of good for a lot of people,” Councilmember Ron Smith said. “I just want to be a cheerleader for us to do those things and to really help a lot of people out with this great amount of money that's coming our way.”
City title and salary changes
The council also unanimously recommended a host of salary and title changes to city positions in order to better reflect the duties of such jobs.
Caroline Shaw, City of Bloomington director of human resources, said the changes reflect an internal review for position pay grade increases and how different job descriptions have changed over time.
In the Office of the Mayor, the title of digital communications specialist will become a digital brand manager and include a two-level pay grade increase. Shaw said this position encapsulates a multitude of roles, such as social media content creator, graphic designer and creative director.
The title of fire inspection officer within the Bloomington Fire Department will be changed to deputy fire marshal. The title of neighborhood resource specialist within the Bloomington Police Department will become community service specialist.
The Utilities Department MS4 coordinator and the Parks and Recreation Department golf course superintendent will both receive a single pay grade increase.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the status of the ordinances.