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Page last updated on October 6, 2022 at 12:34 pm

Good evening, and thank you Council for the chance to provide brief comments. 

First an acknowledgement as we commence the formal hearing for the 2023 City budget: We recognize that the city of Bloomington sits on Native land. The city as well as City administrative buildings are on the traditional homelands of the Miami, Delaware, Potawatomi, and Shawnee people, and we acknowledge they are past, present, and future caretakers of this land. 

We also acknowledge that much of the economic progress and development in  Bloomington and Indiana resulted from the unpaid labor and forced servitude of People of Color - specifically enslaved African labor. 

We acknowledge that this land remains home to and a site of gathering and healing for many indigenous and other people of color and commit to the work necessary to create and promote a more equitable and just Bloomington.

We spent many hours together in late August going through the proposed 2023 budget, which itself reflects many months of engagement together identifying priorities and programs, and concerns. Thank you again OOTC, HR, and cabinet. Tonight I will focus on first, just the very highest level review of our 2023 budget, second summarize some of the feedback on the budget or on topics generally we’ve gotten in questions and more directly, and third note any changes in budget since presented in August.

At the highest level overview, a reminder of the importance of this transformative budget. Truly launching a new era for Bloomington, with ED-LIT and continuing ARPA and prospective federal support. Best understood with Three Focus Points. 

  1. This budget strongly supports City employees and all government basic services and affirms the central role of great public services. This budget helps us be a “Workplace of Choice” for ALL our employees. It embodies the notion that we have an ambitious and innovative city government that is an employer of choice, delivering cost-effective modern services, in ways that advance the quality of life for current and future Bloomingtonians.
  2. This budget embraces Sustainability - in particular with transformative investments in public transit and our Climate Action Plan. We know this makes a stronger community. It embodies the notion that Bloomington is committed to addressing the climate emergency and building a sustainable, equitable economy. 
  3. This budget embraces inclusion and justice - being a city that welcomes all and works for all. This embodies the notion that Bloomington is committed to being a safe, just, and inclusive community where everyone belongs and can thrive, including with good jobs, affordable housing, and inspiring arts and public spaces.

As an Employer of Choice: Key components:  5% COLA. $1,000 bonus. $780 matching savings. $850 additional health savings account contribution. (eg $40k worker additional $4,630 = 11+% increase; $70k worker, $6,130 = nearly 9% increase) Exploring tuition supports etc. $600 payment for vaccinations. Also, a new health clinic coming next year. Paid parental leave (this 4th quarter). 

The budget includes major Public Safety investments. Including new police salaries set last year; New headquarters for fire and police. Amenities like Housing allowance for first responders ($18k or $750/mo.). Meeting needs of pricing increases and other rising demands across the entire city government. Continued negotiations with AFSCME.

As Advancing Sustainability. Exceptional investments in BT. And first-ever, annual investments in our Climate Action Plan. These are new, and both are transformative for our city. 

Advancing Inclusion and Justice. Everyone can thrive. New annual Housing support at $1 million. A $1 million commitment to invest in Economic Equity. Annual support for better wages, and jobs, and training. And for local arts and local food. I’ll speak in just a moment about Reproductive justice. All of these will help Bloomington walk the walk and enter a new era of inclusion and justice.

All of this tracks very precisely the plans shared with you in connection with the ED-LIT discussions in the spring. The formal “Capital Improvement Plan” will be shared next week as well.

Second, as to Questions or Comments we’ve been exchanging on items in the budget or more generally: Thank you for your written questions - we provided answers to those 113 questions more than two weeks ago. We’ve also welcomed less formal feedback or questions and I wanted to report tonight directly on a few items: 

Proposed changes in sanitation budget - we suggested moving to a path with zero general fund subsidy. Different views on that. Up to Council. We believe it is the right direction to go and encourage you to do so. The 2023 budget as presented sustains general fund support if needed, that will be determined as you review cart pricing in the coming months.

We’ve proposed reducing or eliminating the use of physical coins in parking meters. Several advantages to this – operating costs, environmental impacts, and ancillary limitations – but look forward to working with you going forward. Likely incremental adjustments.

We’re proposing expanding street sweeping by shifting it into CBU as part of stormwater management. Advantages to this – frequency, and connection to key protections of stormwater. Continue to work with CBU leadership and board, and you, in this transition.

No Right on Red signs, (ordinance required signs but there was no funding for it). Need to contract it out, and find resources. Happy to report that installation will start the first week of November. 35 intersections, 76 signs. $45K contract.

Update on Scooters. The memo of Aug 26th outlined several steps underway: re Parking: two part-time staff. Also exploring Geofenced corrals downtown for parking scooters. Re safety and riding issues (w two recent tragic fatalities): potential geofencing for areas of riding; and potential riding curfew of times. Discussing with IU. Expect council action may be requested. IU training coordinating with companies. 

We continue to plan evolution in our leaf collection program. And we will be launching a process to identify a potential city-owned lot that we can convert into affordable housing. 

Finally: Changes in the 2023 budget since late August. Just one: responding to SB1. Terrible new law banning virtually all abortions in the state. This is an egregious deprivation of basic rights and one that poses serious threats to our residents and our community. Thank council members for interest in this. And public. New appropriation ordinance for 2022 has been shared with you for your action, making $100k available asap to support organizations that are responding to the reproductive health emergency brought on by the US S Ct and our state leaders. And we have added $100K to the 2023 budget as well. The only change since the August presentation. 

Details from Underwood and Shaw next. At highest level - this 2023 budget opens a new era for Bloomington. It is transformative for Bloomington’s future, through the 2020s and beyond – Recover Forward being built into the basics: Employer of choice and a leading city government. A Sustainable city. An Inclusive and Just city. I am very pleased and proud to be working with you to move Bloomington forward in so many important ways. I’ll be happy to respond to any questions. I thank you for your consideration of, and I hope support for, this proposed budget.