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Page last updated on September 6, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Welcome all, and thank you Council members for the opportunity to review again our proposed 2020 budget, in light of our presentation last month and discussions and questions we have shared since then. We appreciate your attention, and we ask for your support for this 2020 budget in front of you.

I won’t repeat last month’s budget comments but express appreciation again for our collaboration in developing another budget that I believe reflects the goals of our community and respects the realities, both financial and practical, that set guardrails for our city government.

For the 15 departments in the administration, with about 850 employees, the total operating budget of about $170 million reflects investments to serve and support our 85,000 residents and 2 million annual visitors and to enhance and protect over one billion dollars worth of assets, with a balanced budget. We keep our general fund reserves at 30% or more of annual operating expenses, good stewardship reflected in our excellent, and improved bond rating of AA. I’ll note that only 10 jurisdictions in the state, of any kind -- town, city, or county --  have a higher bond rating. It’s also worth noting some comparisons with our peers in the state, as a low-tax city. 

Mayor Hamilton

This budget continues our strong investments in our city employees, with increased training and fair, living wages for all, and 12 new positions. We embrace transparency, including our citywide performance report to be released next week, and our ongoing emphasis on accountability and efficiency in all we do.

This budget reflects key priorities we discussed last month, including major investments in Economic Health, our Quality of Life and Community Justice, Affordable Housing, and Public Safety. I’ll share just a few more detailed thoughts about two particular priorities that have been matters of some recent discussion: our police department, and our efforts regarding climate change.

First as to Police. We’ve been discussing issues on a couple of different dimensions. One relates to ongoing contract negotiations with the police union, and appropriate levels of compensation, benefits, and conditions, for the coming several years. A second is with regard to overall investment in police services, including the number of badged officers in relation to demands and population growth. As to the first issue:

  • salary study was done regarding all employees, which informs our approach; 

  • 18 mo. of negotiations with 16 offers and counteroffers, ongoing, w mediator. 

  • Recently were within $50K difference for multi-million dollar four-year contract, until union representatives withdrew and added $1MM to their proposal. 

  • Ongoing negotiations, reflect our deep respect for and commitment to fair compensation and conditions. (attrition rates comparable to rest of govt; virtually all overtime voluntary). We expect discussions to continue.  

As to the second police issue:  Let me say directly: our administration has been and is fully committed to and invested in public safety and our police department in very substantial ways.  

  • 8 new badged officers in 4 years (5 new positions plus 3 officers freed up); 

  • New help w social worker, 2 Neighborhood Resource Specialists, and an after-hours ambassador; 

  • Unprecedented budget history of the past 6 years, showing our investment in the police department (including dispatch); 

  • Officers per 1,000 must include IU, putting us at about national average; 

  • First time ever, new national accreditation, after rigorous outside review of performance and procedures, training, etc., top handful of Indiana depts 

  • Most important: crime stats showing overall trends. 2018 lowest overall crime statistics in the past 10 years.

Very proud of our police force, inc Chief Diekhoff; who I believe in their training and performance are unsurpassed in Indiana. I appreciate your continued support for this outstanding department and all our officers with the 2020 budget.

Now as to Climate Action. We all face an enormous challenge -- and opportunity -- in front of us as a community, as well as our country and our planet. We have to get this right -- which as a society and culture we certainly have not been doing -- as we know, there is no Planet B. I believe, and believe we all agree, on the existential importance of addressing this issue locally, regionally, and beyond. This evening, I just want to give a very brief look at where we are now as a community, including some of the progress we’ve made recently, and some look ahead. Let me state for the record that I agree wholeheartedly with the chants that rang throughout City Hall last week, when hundreds of our residents, including many young people and students, joined the Climate Strike -- the chant of NOT ENOUGH is absolutely correct. None of us has done enough -- we have a great deal to do ahead of us. And I know that there may be some different views about how city government itself ought to be restructured or not in connection with this issue. There may be different opinions about how best to achieve very important results; that is my talisman -- doing what works, to get results. We cannot, we will not stop; as additional efforts needed.

One important area of effort is political. Speaking up and speaking out about this issue. As your mayor, I do that often, as do all of you. As a city government, we have joined important groups to build momentum toward change beyond our own community, including Climate Mayors, including the Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative, Mayors for Solar Energy, We Are Still In, and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. 

Locally we have organized and activated our efforts with our first-ever Sustainability Action Plan, led by city government:

  • Adopted Oct. 2018, after months of development and 100s of participants

  • Eight areas of Focus, w scores of specific goals already identified, including:

    • 11% reduction in community-wide GreenHouse Gasses by 2023 from 2016 baseline of 1.3MMTons (and 12% reduction for city operations)

    • 20% reduction in community-wide building energy use by 2023 from 2016 baseline of 9.4MMBTUs

    • 20% reduction in per capita water usage by 2023 from 96 gpd in 2016

    • 60% Single Occupancy Vehicle commuting rate by 2022 from 63% in 2016. These are all big lifts requiring collaborations community-wide.

  • Examples of Activities Underway already:

    • Water - green infrastructure; Lake Monroe; Smart Meters

    • Ecosystem Health - Trees; Switchyard Park

    • Energy - Solar; LEED Certification

    • Transportation - Sidepaths/Trails; Electric Buses; TDM Review

  • Important Projects Upcoming:

    • Waste to Energy Taskforce

    • Climate Vulnerability Assessment and Action Plan

    • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (every 2 years)

    • Carbon Disclosure Project (annual) 

    • LEED for Cities/Communities benchmarking (cert. by 2020)

    • Sustainability Dashboard

This is a major list of actions and planned activities, and the Sustainability Action Plan is our guidebook for continued efforts. We have established an internal working group inside the city government, which I lead personally and which includes eight department heads, that will coordinate and oversee our actions with this Plan, to address Climate Change. I am proud that Bloomington just was recognized among all the municipalities of the state to win this year’s statewide, “Greening Government” award for Indiana. Based on what we’ve been doing. But we’re only just getting started on enormous efforts ahead. And we look forward to meeting that challenge head-on, as a community, together.

I thank the Council for your close attention to this budget, as always, and for public comments as well. I believe this is a very good budget for our community, again reflecting our goals and respecting our realities. No doubt some parts of the whole will appeal to some and not to others; each of us may desire a change in this or that particular, but as our community-wide budget I urge you to embrace this whole. Thank you very much for your leadership and support.