The Bloomington city budget hearings began Monday night. The city asked to present the budget request in August instead of July this year. Mayor Mark Kruzan says this allows for much more accuracy with regard to property and income tax distributions.
Kruzan says much of what the city is trying to do involves stabilizing the budget. That means not many new hires. The city will actually have 17 fewer employees in 2014, a result of the Mayor asking city departments not to hire new employees to replace those lost by attrition.
But the City Council did approve funding for a few new employees. Kruzan says two additional police officers would take the city force up to 100, a number he says the department feels is adequate for now.
Kruzan also proposed using revenue from the newly installed downtown parking meters to fund a Downtown Rapid Response Team.
“Their sole mission will be to respond to graffiti, vandalism, damage from storms – whatever it might be that challenges downtown’s condition,” says Kruzan.
He says the team should be able to produce results within 24-48 hours of a call as opposed to the sometimes weeks it can take now. The council approved about $75,000 to fund the team, which will be made up of five part-time employees and one full-time downtown specialist. The city will also purchase an electric vehicle for the rapid response team.
In other spending, the City’s contribution for each employee to a health insurance trust will be $11,500 in 2014, a 6 percent increase from last year.
Bloomington Information and Technology Services and Telecommunications requested 2.8 million dollars, which the City Council approved. The money will help develop enhanced GIS services for the city transit system and new hardware for the 911 dispatch center.
The city council approved all departmental budget requests, as well as its own, unanimously.