Next year’s city budget includes funds for Bloomington’s bicentennial, affordable housing and pre-K efforts. Plus, a growing tech firm is moving its headquarters to Indianapolis citing lack of space and affordability in Bloomington.
On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.
Hren: The 2018 city budget is passed and there are some first time line items in there including funds for Bloomington’s bicentennial, affordable housing and a 2-percent salary increase?
Hamilton: Another thing we added is the first ever support for pre-K. We know how important the years right before kindergarten are for families and kids and we want to be a partner with a lot of the people in our community that are looking to improve the pre-school support.
It’s not so much an application fund. I felt it was important for the city to put a stake in the ground and say we are a part of this challenge. A lot of people are thinking about this, the community foundation, regional folks, business folks. The state needs to do more. Indiana is way behind the nation overall in terms of support for pre-K so this is local government saying we’re going to move forward ourselves too.
Hren: In new business, city council is having a first reading on sexually oriented business zoning this week. How did this come about?
Hamilton: There’s a state law that requires municipalities to accommodate sexually explicit businesses. You might imagine communities sometimes say, we don’t want one. So the state made the requirement you have a small percentage of zoning must allow for this. So a business, AKA “Night Moves” will close and relocate and they under state law have to have the chance to look someplace else in the city to relocate, if they choose to do so.
Hren: I read an article in the Herald-Times last week about a tech firm, Lucid Services Group, moving their headquarters from Bloomington to Indy. They cited more talent, space and being more affordable. I feel it’s not something residents want to read about when the city is trying to fill a tech park, is this concerning to you?
Hamilton: It was interesting, I don’t know that company well. It was interesting to hear them say it’s more affordable in Indianapolis. It’s really important to know the success of the tech industry in Indianapolis is very important to us in Bloomington, as is the success of the tech industry in Bloomington is important to Indianapolis. We’re part of one ecosystem really. We’re not competing against each other, we’re competing against San Francisco and New York and Berlin and London.
So it’s not surprising to see companies moving back and forth or have a location here and one in Indianapolis. But it’s a sign that the tech community should be and is becoming more integrated between Bloomington and Indianapolis, Lafayette, Crane … all of that needs to connect and be more fluid in my view. Bloomington doesn’t want to become like Indianapolis. We’re never going to be like Indianapolis. We want to be Bloomington.
Hren: We had an email from Nandini who wanted to ask about the counterfeit parking permit market in Bloomington. Apparently, someone was using a fake permit to park in their neighborhood with someone else’s permit number. Is this a common occurrence?
Hamilton: I haven’t heard of this. First off, no one should counterfeit parking permits. If you do, we’re going to catch you, so don’t do it. Get your permits legit once a year and I appreciate having them bring that to our attention so we’re keep our eye out on it. We have vigilant parking enforcement folks who try to protect the right for everybody to legitimately park where they want to.