City Council Supports Library Expansion Project; Budget Approval Within Sight

 Alderwoman Amelia Buragas said it's still too soon to say whether the Bloomington Public Library Board's decision to expand the library at its current site is the most fiscally responsible option. (Image Credit: Breanna Grow)

Alderwoman Amelia Buragas said it's still too soon to say whether the Bloomington Public Library Board's decision to expand the library at its current site is the most fiscally responsible option. (Image Credit: Breanna Grow)

The Main Point: The Bloomington City Council held its regularly scheduled meeting Monday night to discuss key issues including the proposed expansion of the Bloomington Public Library as well as the City's budget, which continues to inch toward approval.

Library Expansion

Some Bloomington aldermen are still hesitant to approve the Bloomington Public Library’s planned expansion.

Council members passed a resolution 6-2 Monday night expressing support for a vote by the Library’s Board of Trustees last month to expand the BPL at its Olive Street location.

Aldermen Amelia Buragas and Scott Black voted against the resolution.

“Right now the universe of what we do not know is much larger than what we do know,” Buragas said, favoring more research to answer questions like how much the project would cost and who would pay for it.

Rewind: Buragas chaired the Downtown Task Force, which late last year recommended moving the library closer to the Downtown core and combining it with a proposed Connect Transit transfer center and parking deck.

Fine Print: Black noted Monday that the library is just one of several projects under Council consideration, including improvements at O’Neil Pool. Black said the pool's facility, built 40 years ago, now requires costly upgrades or all-out replacement.

“The library is in a functional building--O’Neil Pool is threatened with not being able to be open within this year or next year,” Black said.

Alderman Mboka Mwilambwe said after years of exploring the issue, it’s time “to give the library board some closure.”

Budget Update

An end to the City’s budget debate grew nearer Monday. Council members selected three cost-saving measures to close the remainder of what began as a projected $3M budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year. The cost-saving measures include:

  • Cost recovery fees. This includes a number of fees assessed by the Community Development Department, such as false alarms for fire and police, will see a 5% increase every two years beginning in May.

  • Parking fees. A resolution regarding special event parking will collect new and increased fees at Downtown sites.

  • Business registration program. Businesses will pay a $50 one-time fee to register with the City. Staff assured Council members the City already provides many of the services associated with such a program; the new fee pays for them.

What’s Next: Staff will develop detailed ordinances for a final vote at the next Council meeting. The Council has until April 30 to pass a balanced budget.