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Thursday, Feb. 22
The Indiana Daily Student

politics

City council approves 2022 budget after months of deliberation

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The Bloomington City Council voted in favor of Mayor Hamilton’s updated 2022 budget proposal in a meeting Oct. 27, avoiding a Nov. 1 deadline that would’ve extended the current budget another year. 

Council members were originally scheduled to vote on the 2022 proposed budget two weeks ago but delayed the vote, citing displeasure with many department budget proposals. The council scheduled deliberations for tonight’s meeting, just days before the Nov. 1 deadline.

Mayor Hamilton updated the budget proposals, mainly to include two $5 million general obligation bonds to support sustainability initiatives. The mayor has also stated that his administration is committed to adding $5,000 to the base salary for sworn officers.

Councilmembers Matt Flaherty, Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Dave Rollo said they generally approved of the updated budget even if it didn’t include everything they originally wanted. In past meetings, many council members vocalized their support for a cabinet-level position in the Mayor’s office dedicated to sustainability and climate-related matters.

“I don’t think the budget is perfect, but I do know that the budget has significantly improved over the last weeks of discussion with administration, which I do appreciate,” councilmember Jim Sims said.

Council deliberation regarding Bloomington Police Department salaries have been long and contentious over the past few months. Councilmembers Rollo, Susan Sandberg and Ron Smith have all pushed for increases in base salaries for BPD officers.

Councilmember Rollo said he appreciates the mayor's proposal to raise base police officer salaries and is supportive of the budget, but would still like to see further improvements. Collective bargaining agreements will begin in the coming weeks. In those meetings, salaries will be finalized for union officers.

“To be truly competitive with other peer cities… it will require more,” Rollo said. “It will require $10,000 to $12,000, but that’s a trajectory that we can be on, and I see $5,000, as we’ve stated in a resolution, as a good start.”

The council agreed to designate Sandberg as the council representative for the upcoming collective bargaining sessions for BPD officer salary negotiations. As a representative, Sandberg will observe and inform the council how the negotiations were handled.

Council members unanimously approved the ordinances to fix the salaries for officers of the Bloomington police and fire departments. The council additionally approved fixing the salaries of appointed officers, non-union officers and American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees in all city departments.

Council members were initially divided on many of the department budget ordinances. But after discussions with Mayor Hamilton and deliberation, they finished the meeting by unanimously approving all ordinances, including fixing elected city official salaries.

“I appreciate that my colleagues on the city council as well as the mayor have had more communication this year than in the past,” said Piedmont-Smith. “I believe the council has had a greater input into this budget than at any other time in my service on the city council and I think that is excellent. And we should continue to have this sort of vigorous dialogue.”

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