As the municipal primary results are behind us, the summer slow season is upon us. Now is as good a time as any to clean out the advocacy notebook.
The “trash talk” has commenced in the City of Bloomington (COB). Ordinance 23-11 will amend Title 6 of the Bloomington Municipal Code titled “Health and Sanitation”. This is a polite way to indicate the price of your trash collection will be going up. Residents may see a 58 to 75 percent increase in that cost. Currently, money from the general fund pays for the shortfall in fees. A subsidy is also required to fund the cost of curbside recycling. The current proposal attempts to ensure trash collection pays for itself and recycling. The debate will be heated as the fee increase represents sticker shock. This is coming after the large local income hike that went into effect last October. Council members will be required to be in attendance and not virtual to vote on this amendment.
Based on staff recommendation, the COB Common Council will also take up updates to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). From a Chamber perspective, it adds parking maximums for various types of businesses. More importantly, it increases the maximums for restaurants and fitness centers. I spoke at the May 10th meeting. At least two of the council members pushed back on the proposed increase in parking.
In the County, the Redevelopment Commission had a public meeting that provided an overview of a proposed housing TIF district along State Road 46 or the Criderville area. Bonds would be issued to pay for infrastructure (sewer, roads) for housing developments. The bond would be paid off through an increase in the assessed value of the property. The State Legislature this past session passed a law to make it easier for communities to put these districts together.
Also in the county, the Criminal Justice Response Committee has been put on hiatus by the commissioners. The County council implemented a resolution creating the Justice Fiscal Advisory Committee. This adds individuals who were not included, such as a Bloomington representative. 15 members, 3 people on the committee, and 12 ad-hoc. 3 council and 1 commissioner including ex-inmates, judges, etc. They will meet every other week. The council has the purse strings and they are looking to use that authority to influence the new location of the justice center and the programs within to reduce the recidivism rate.
In Ellettsville, the Town Council passed Ordinance 2023-05 Approving a Moratorium on "NEW" Construction and Development of Certain Structures in Commercial and Industrial Districts. This would be in affect until their UDO is passed which looks to occur sometime around October.
Kerry Thomson defeated her two Democrat opponents to gain the Democratic nomination for mayor. This all but assures a win in November with no GOP or an independent candidate having filed. The turnout was disappointing in that less than 8,000 voters made it to the polls Thanks to key endorsements from three former mayors and a large fundraising advantage, she coasted to victory. Her campaign has promised a more collaborative and transparent means of governing Bloomington which contrasts with the current administration.
Kerry Thomson 43 percent
Susan Sandberg 34 percent
Don Griffin 23 percent
The make-up of the nine-member city will look dramatically different thanks to redistricting, a pair of upsets, and two members opting not to run. There are six candidates chosen by districts and three at-large. Five new council members are expected to take office in January. District 3 is the only race with a GOP opponent, Brett Heinisch. The current council was often split in its approach to local government. The more cautious majority will now only be bringing back Councilmember Dave Rollo, who was unopposed in his District 4 re-election bid. The biggest upset of the night was Kate Rosenberger nail bitter victory over Council President Sue Sgambelluri. Incumbent Ron Smith lost his District 3 seat to Hopi Stosberg.
Isak Asare 19.91%
Andy Ruff 18.81%
Matt Flaherty 17.69% (I)
Lois Sabo-Skelto 13.54%
Jonas Schrodt 12.69%
Steve Volan 12.16% (I)
Ryne Shadday 5.20%
D1 Isabel Piedmont-Smith (I)
D2 Kate Rosenbarger (I))
D3: Hopi Strosberg
D4: Dave Rollo (I)
D5: Shruti Rana
D6: David Wolfe-Bender (under review)
Council members who did not seek re-election: Susan Sandberg and Jim Sims
(I) = incumbant