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Bloomington Council To Address Parking, Trash Fees In '13

Bloomington city leaders see disputes over parking meters, garbage pickup and where the city houses its population among the topics likely to dominate 2013.

Bloomington may change the way it charges for sanitation – including possibly adopting new rules regarding which residents pay for trash service and how much.  Council members will also reconsider a growth plan for the city which gets updated about once a decade.  Past proposals have succeeded in expanding the city’s boundaries westward and bringing more people to live downtown, but critics say that’s meant increased population density downtown and urban sprawl elsewhere.  City Councilman Andy Ruff says what the city needs to do now is ensure that the courthouse square is not the only area of the city which feels inviting…

“We need to start thinking about recreating our downtown environment in other places in the community.”

The city spends more on collecting trash than it takes in and closing that gap is just one part of crafting a city budget, which Mayor Mark Kruzan says will be challenging if layoffs are to be forestalled.

“How we can make ends meet and still achieve the kind of services we want to provide without cutting additional staff will be a real balancing act,” Kruzan says.

But ask  Kruzan,  Ruff and city councilman Steve Volan what topic they think will generate the most discussion in the next year and there’s a consensus: parking meters.

Three decades ago, the city did away with its pay-for-parking scheme, with the expressed purpose of revitalizing downtown.  That plan worked, but now council members say parking is a resource which is misused and undervalued.   Ruff says putting the meters back in may be a way to fashion other areas of the city in downtown’s image without choking off business…

“We need to develop in such a way that the downtown doesn’t necessarily have to take the full force of what we’re trying to do in this community,” Ruff says.

Volan says parking is part of a larger discussion about how the city collects money – as is an upcoming discussion about changing the way residents pay for trash pickup.

“Parking meters are definitely an increase in fees.  Sanitation is not necessarily that.  It’s just a different way of paying for the service,” Volan says.

Volan says the city is trying to maximize parking efficiency, which a study from a UCLA researcher says means using only 85-90 percent of spaces at a time, in order to give the appearance that there’s always parking and not dissuade people from traveling downtown.

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