Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton discussed his administration’s 2024 budget proposal and plans to continue city collaborations and invest in employees in a meeting Monday.
The proposed budget is around $131.2 million — excluding transit and utilities — which represents a 1.4% increase from the year prior. The increase reflects a 4% increase in property tax revenue and a 3.75% increase in local income tax revenue. The combined operating budget of around $229 million includes transit and utilities.
Hamilton said the themes of the budget are investing in employees, public safety and committing American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Community Revitalization Enhancement District (CRED) funds. The ARPA is a U.S. federal law aimed at providing extensive economic relief and support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bloomington’s two CRED districts allow the city to gain sales and income tax dollars generated by new business investment within the area and to use the funds for economic development within the district.
The budget would provide a $500 bonus to most city employees. Many city employees would also see a 5% pay increase as a cost-of-living adjustment in 2024, should the budget pass. Additionally, the city plans to open an employee health clinic by the end of the year.
Hamilton said the city can add nonsworn public safety employees like social workers and community service specialists while still hiring sworn employees like armed law enforcement.
Hamilton said the budget emphasizes public safety through programs contained in the budget. He said a 911 review committee looked at how the city responds to emergency calls and provided several recommendations. One of these recommendations is a pilot program for responding to some 911 calls with non-sworn officers. Hamilton said welfare checks exemplify the kind of calls that would receive responses from non-sworn public safety employees.
Should the budget pass, Centerstone would also see additional support of $486,000 which is associated with the Brighten B-Town program. Centerstone’s Bloomington location offers addiction and psychiatric treatment, children and family counseling, crisis and urgent care and housing services.
Around $20 million of ARPA and CRED funds are proposed to be used in five areas: diversity, equity and inclusion programs, infrastructure, affordable housing, workforce support and public health. The funds would also allocate $1 million to an economic equity fund to support low-income residents.
Hamilton concluded the meeting reflecting on his administration’s past budget proposals.
“From the beginning, we had a huge focus on affordable housing, major investments in public safety and major investments in infrastructure and equipment,” Hamilton said. “I'm really pleased with the things we've done and give Controller Underwood credit too to help us make sure we are investing in the basics and advancing these fundamentals,” he said.
The first department budget hearing took place Monday. Departmental budget hearings will continue Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at City Hall's Council Chambers. The hearings will start at 5:30 p.m. each day and there will be time for questions and comments from council members and the public. The final budget proposal will be presented to the city council on Sept. 27, and the adoption vote will take place Oct. 11.