Council Briefing: Special Session Covers Solid Waste, City Manager Search

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On Monday night the Bloomington City Council held a special session, which included discussions on waste management plans and the search for a permanent city manager.

Waste Management

First, council members retracted the idea of outsourcing the city’s solid waste program, instead directing City staff to explore a combination of changes to current program fees and services.

That could include a 3% annual fee increase for trash pickup, which Bloomington Director of Public Works Jim Karch said would cover the $1.1M lost on solid waste overall.

Council members Karen Schmidt, David Sage and Jamie Mathy voted against the motion, hoping to continue explore privatization. Ward 8 Alderwoman Diana Hauman was not present at Monday’s meeting.

“I think it’s still too premature at this point to rule anything out,” said Mathy. 

Other council members worried private companies couldn’t maintain the level of service Bloomington residents currently enjoy.

Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black said it’s in the City’s best interest to maintain responsibility for its cleanliness. He also suggested assessing a fee to properties like apartments with large amounts of bulk waste.

Changes to the City’s solid waste program were just one of several ideas presented to shore up the City’s projected $2.9M budget deficit.

Council members also asked staff to bring back proposals on charging for parking at special events Downtown, a new business registration program and one-time fee, and increases to hundreds of outdated service fees, mostly within the City’s Community Development Department.

City staff will present a budget proposal to the council February 26.

City Manager Search

Council members also voted 6-2 to authorize a $20,000 consulting services agreement with GovHR USA to help the City find candidates for a permanent city manager.

Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black opposed the agreement, saying he believed the search should be done in-house based on feedback from the public and City staff.

Ward 1 Alderman Jamie Mathy said the City already has a perfectly good internal candidate for the position, suggesting that the consulting agreement is unnecessary.

Steve Rasmussen has served as Interim City Manager since taking over for David Hales in November.

Mayor Tari Renner said it’s standard procedure to conduct national searches whether or not there’s a strong internal candidate for a position. “This is no black mark against any internal candidate.”

Rasmussen said he’ll happily serve in whatever position the Council decides. “At this stage in my career I really am not interested in trying to build a resume or move to another city,” he said. “For me, my pleasure comes in being able to make a contribution to the community.”