At a meeting of Bloomington Utilities Service Board last night, Board member Jeff Ehman questioned the reason for a 20 million dollar jump in the city of Bloomington’s personnel budget over the past five years. In 2012, the budget was $18 million. That number is now up to $38 million per year. Controller Jeff Underwood said the city has only recently been able to grow its personnel budget after shedding many positions during the national economic downturn.
“We finally have seen some increase in revenue and the economy where tax collections are going back up that we’re going to be able to do some of those projects that we haven’t been able to. From a personnel standpoint, its been relatively zero to no growth since that time but the demand is busting at the seams. You guys are no different than we are, got a lot more work than people to do ’em”.
Last night the Utilities Board approved a $1.85 million interdepartmental agreement between the city and the Utilities Department. Underwood said he expects the interdepartmental agreement will be amended in the future, partly because of the city’s plan to automate its sanitation services. The utilities department has agreed to handle the sanitation department’s billing. Underwood said the true cost of adding that service will not be known immediately, “The city and the utilities are committed to making sure the CBU will be made whole for any costs and that would be materials as well as personnel. We would anticipate that we will be on an every 6 month cycle for that just because as we get more actual numbers we want to make sure we get it adjusted to make sure that it’s an equitable reimbursement.”
The Board also approved a 20-year contract to supply water to the Town of Ellettsville. The contract states the town will purchase a minimum of 2 million gallons of water each month. The Utilities Department’s Finance Director, Efrat Feferman, said the town currently averages approximately 26 million gallons a month. She said Ellettsville has reduced its usage rate since 2012 by reducing its water waste. The contract also states the town cannot buy water from another source except in the event of drought or other emergency. In addition to the Town of Ellettsville, the city sells water to nine other entities, including the Town of Nashville and Indiana University.