The Bloomington City Council approved area 1A, which is the northern area by interstate 65 and bypass 45, to be annexed into the city of Bloomington Wednesday. The council began to debate and vote on the annexation of the seven proposed areas.
After an hour of council and public comments, the council voted to annex the area. Dissenting votes came from councilmembers Dave Rollo, Ron Smith and Susan Sandberg, each of whom expressed they opposed any involuntary annexation of county land.
Over the past months, the community as well as the council has mulled over the debate regarding whether certain county land should be the annexation of land into the city.
Rollo said he didn’t agree with how annexing the land would involuntarily raise taxes for affected residents, since many of whom are elderly and live on a single income. He said this is compounded especially during the pandemic.
“It could have been a voluntary process, it could have been recorded, it could have included more engagement, and it could have happened at a time post-pandemic,” Rollo said.
Many city and county residents who spoke during public comment opposed this ordinance for many of the same reasons. A majority of speakers said they were concerned of how this would affect friends and family living in proposed annexation areas who already struggle to afford housing payments.
All Monroe County commissioners attended the meeting and commented in opposition.
Monroe County Commissioner President Julie Thomas said she was concerned about financial projection discrepancies between the city’s fiscal plan for annexation and the county’s audit.
She said she had concerns about the involuntary-nature of the annexation plans and how some larger corporations, like Cook Medical, can pay the city to be omitted from the annexation proposal.
In 2017, the City of Bloomington and Cook Medical made a 15-year agreement stating Bloomington will not annex any Cook properties outside of city limits in exchange for at least $100,000 per year. Cook has had similar agreements with Bloomington since 1979 with their latest agreement expiring in 2012.
“If Cook Corporation can pay in lieu of being annexed, can residents do the same thing?” Thomas said.
The council unanimously approved a recess and will continue to vote on annexation ordinances at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Residents can attend the meeting on Zoom.