Money Wasted by Bloomington City

The City of Bloomington’s annexation efforts, which the state legislature and governor abruptly ordered terminated last month, had incurred expenditures of more than $770,000 to date in complying with the state-mandated process of annexation. In addition, hundreds of staff hours had been dedicated to the futileĀ process.

On February 3, Mayor Hamilton asked the City Council to initiate the process to consider a proposed annexation that would expand the boundaries of the City of Bloomington. The legal process was to run at least five months, through June 2017, with any adopted annexations taking effect in 2020. The state legislature enacted a provision in the budget bill, signed by the governor on April 27, that specifically declared the process that started in Bloomington to be terminated as a matter of state law, with no public discussion, hearing, or involvement.

“The annexation process established by the state legislature is complicated and detailed, requiring resources that almost no cities, including ours, have on staff,” Mayor John Hamilton says. “The strict legal process required us to research, generate, analyze and communicate a great deal of information to inform and guide the process. We followed the law and indeed, to be even more transparent with affected residents of Monroe County, went beyond the basic legal requirements and produced a parcel-by-parcel tax analysis for residents of every single property that was included in a proposed annexation area — more than 7,100 parcels.”

The annexation boundary configuration recently reviewed by City Council included approximately 7,100 parcels. The cost for annexation expenses to date for those parcels was $108 per parcel.

Outside expenses incurred in the process included financial analysis and reporting provided by Reedy Financial Group P.C.; legal services provided by Bose, McKinney & Evans; mailing and public notice expenses incurred by The Jackson Group; public meetings and information sessions supported by Hirons & Company; and other expenses such as surveying and transcription of public comments as detailed in the table below.

Matthew Greller, Aim Executive Director and CEO, commented, “Due to many changes in recent years, Indiana cities and towns are now required to go through the most rigorous annexation process in our state’s history. It’s upsetting to learn that following those rules will cost Bloomington taxpayers so much money.”

According to Jeb Conrad, President and CEO of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, “Whether or not you were a fan of annexation, the city followed the legal process to explore expanding city borders. It is not typical of state government to change a process prescribed to local governments midway and is something local communities should take note of.”

“Annexation is a very technical and complex statutory process that incurs a great deal of cost to initiate as well as to continue with thoughtful, transparent analysis. Along the way the city did a thorough job of gathering detailed, useful parcel-by-parcel information to provide to thousands of residents and businesses. The associated costs reflect the amount of effort in developing this information as well as all that is involved in the process,” according to Lynn Coyne, president of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation.

“Our annexation efforts and the money spent to comply with state laws were an investment in the future of our community. I believe we did the right thing in following state law and undertaking an orderly, transparent, public process for annexation. I deeply regret the unwarranted actions of the state legislature,” said Mayor Hamilton.

TOTALS

 

    • Financial Consulting, Reedy Financial Group, P.C., $392,395.88

 

    • Legal Services, Bose, McKinney, & Evans, $200,011.33

 

    • Mailing, The Jackson Group, $123,588.79

 

    • Communications, Hirons & Company, $45,382.16

 

    • Surveying, Bledsoe Riggert Cooper James; $7,064.00

 

    • Court Reporter, Connor Reporting, $1,717.50

 

  • TOTAL – $770,159.66

Was that Reedy or Greedy?


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