Bloomington City Council expands Kirkwood dining hall, discusses city budget and rent regulations

Bloomington City Council discussed several topics on Wednesday night, including the Kirkwood Avenue dining hall, the city’s budget and a new rental housing bylaw.

Closure of Kirkwood Avenue and COVID-19 business assistance

The board unanimously agreed to extend the suspension of certain seating and signage requirements for Bloomington businesses until October 31. The last adopted deadline would expire on August 6.

The ordinance transforms the closure of Kirkwood Avenue into a pedestrian and dining area, which accommodates expanded outdoor seating for surrounding businesses to serve their customers safely, according to the legislative package.

“We have received extremely positive feedback,” said Kaisa Goodman, Special Projects Manager.

Related: [Bloomington restaurants expand and add outdoor dining space]

The expansion was aimed at continuing to provide the outdoor dining space during the warmer months and allay the concerns of customers who prefer al fresco dining due to health concerns, according to the package. Goodman said the extension will also allow businesses to properly prepare for the future.

The designated pickup and drop-off areas for some restaurants to accommodate take-out orders will also continue.

City budget

Bloomington City Comptroller Jeffrey Underwood said the general fund fell from around half a million dollars to $ 1.9 million during the 2020 reversals, which is the balance of funds returned to the city after a certain period. However, he said the city still has strong cash reserves.

Underwood said the departments worst affected by the pandemic offering services, such as parks and recreation and parking services due to declining use of parking lots and meters.

Despite the financial losses due to the pandemic, he said the city was receiving funding to mitigate the adverse effects. The city received $ 22 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and $ 2 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. In addition, the excess distribution of local income tax is expected to increase from the previous million dollars in 2021.

“We have the ability with ARPA funding to recoup lost revenue,” Underwood said.

Reflecting on the past year, the city recently began to look at the 2022 budget. Mayor John Hamilton said he wanted to hear feedback from residents on their priorities and what they want to see in the budget. next year.

He said the city had many opportunities and plans to bounce back financially from the pandemic, spanning the city’s plans for years to come.

By-law on rental overload

The council discussed an order that would require landlords to submit an annual form with the number of occupants of their rental units and impose penalties for failure to submit the form in a timely manner or for incorrect occupancy.

The council decided to postpone the vote until June 16 to address concerns about the implication of this ordinance and to better understand the issue and the opinion of the community.

The housing committee forwarded a recommendation to council on May 26 for the ordinance to pass.

The Housing and Neighborhood Development Department expressed difficulties when it tried to enforce occupancy limits in rental housing, according to the package.

HAND Director John Zody said the new requirement will allow the city to better enforce occupancy limits and keep up with the overcrowding issue in Bloomington.

“We need better data to really understand how best to track this problem now and in the future,” Zody said.

COVID-19 Update

Hamilton said 445 city employees have filed for a $ 100 paycheck for the welfare of the city. He announced on March 15 that all city employees are eligible for the salary supplement if they receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Hamilton praised the UI’s requirement of COVID-19 vaccination for students, staff and faculty, and said it would help Bloomington return to normal.

“Last summer we were in the middle of a pandemic and a recession,” Hamilton said. “We are not yet completely out of the woods, but we have held up very well. I am very proud of our community.


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