Back in May, the Bloomington City Council approved a 50 percent local income tax hike that affects all Monroe County residents. The tax will produce around $14.5 million in annual revenue for the city. It will also generate $9.2 million for the Monroe County government. One of the key initiatives from the Mayor that the Chamber supported is to strengthen our public transit. The culmination of this has been a Bloomington Transit (BT) $34 million proposed budget for 2023. This is more than doubles the $15 million approved for the current budget.
Now is the time to take the initial step to expand BT Service beyond the city limits. Presently, chapter 2.76 Bloomington Municipal Code prevents this from becoming a reality. . The City Council can start this process by simply passing a resolution proclaiming their support for extending Route 3 to Ivy Tech Bloomington and the Cook Group, a mere 1.5 miles. Last week, I spoke to the Council on such action. You can find my public comment HERE and the transcripts below. Contact your City Council Representative HERE.
Good evening Common Council, this is Christopher Emge from the Bloomington Chamber. I hope everyone had a well-earned restful recess. I want to commend the work of the Council on behalf of the residents of Bloomington. You have had big lifts with both the LIT increase and the Meridian deal. These were not easy issues to navigate. I thank you all for your deliberation on these two issues.
Speaking of LIT (Local Income Tax), if you recall one of our economic development priorities was the expansion of transit. The Chamber has long advocated an enhanced system that provides greater access to employment prospects. With the influx of new revenue, now is the time for the Council to act in the first step of providing access outside of the city limits. Your constituents’ transportation needs do not arbitrarily end at the city limits.
This action ultimately will include an amendment to Bloomington municipal code 2.76. However, there is a need to act now, to get this expansion rolling. In the short term, the Chamber is advocating for a simple resolution that puts forward this body’s intent for Bloomington Transit 3 Line to be extended by approximately 1.5 miles to Daniels Way. What this does is open the valuable Park 48 education and employment hub to city residents. Area employers such as Cook, Baxter, Tasus, and their Bloomington proper employees would benefit greatly from these expanded transit options. The students served by Ivy Tech Bloomington’s campus would also have greater entry. This access provides real economic opportunities. Whereas the East/West express line will be ideal, we are firmly aware that such an option will most likely be years, not months away.
The Chamber also recognizes the need for the County to be responsible for a portion of the marginal increases in cost associated with such a service. A preliminary talk with one County Council member appears that they are amenable to such an agreement. The resolution is a good faith effort to make this long-envisioned initiative come to life. It is also the first step in creating a regional transportation blueprint upon which to spring from. I thank you for the time tonight, it is nice to have the council back.
The City of Bloomington will be taking ownership of a portion of the Hopewell site (the former IU Health Bloomington campus) this month. Residents in the area will notice an increase in activity as our contractors work to prepare the area for redevelopment. That work will include the demolition of several buildings in the area as identified in the Hospital Site Redevelopment Master Plan. Learn more about the plan at hopewellbloomington.org. You’ll find a map of the areas impacted below.
Here’s what to expect:
Beginning as early as late July, demolition of existing building structures to make way for the development of Hopewell Phase I East will commence.
Demolition details include:
The Advocacy division of the Chamber often finds itself at odds with pieces of local and state legislation. We do not have the heft to support every item we would like. Many education initiatives fall into this category. Supporting next Fall’s MCCSC referendum to increase property taxes for pay hikes to the teaching and other staff members remains a great use of our limited capital. Quality of life, the largest driver of economic development begins with the value of our schools. Pushing for additional funds for transit, including opening BT to unincorporated areas has also been positive. Ushering people to work without vehicles and providing a less congested means for others enhances our lives.
Recently, I spoke to the Monroe County Commissioners thanking them for their role in several recent initiatives. This is an important aspect of my job. These are hard-working public servants. We will not always agree, which is a positive development. We need to have discourse on issues that affect our community. However, even during disagreements, it’s vital to let these officials know they are playing a positive role in our community. Below is my June 22nd statement:
Board and Commission Openings
One of the areas we encourage is promoting civic duty. Part of this includes involvement in our local government, participating on boards and commissions. We encourage our Chamber members to get involved and find an area they have an interest in.
Notable County Openings: