BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The city of Bloomington could be a much bigger city in just a couple of years from now. The city of Bloomington is proposing expanding the current city limits by annexing several large swaths of land.
Mayor John Hamilton said people who live in areas surrounding the city regularly use the city’s public services like roads, the police department and parks. However, he said they aren’t paying in to them with their tax dollars, since they only pay county taxes.
“Bloomington is now 203 years old and we’ve grown for 185 of those years but the last 17 years we haven’t changed our boundaries,” Mayor Hamilton said. “It’s a very natural process to keep expanding the boundaries to encompass the people who live in and around Bloomington.”
The annexation would add about 15,000 residents to the city of Bloomington and the city would grow physically by about 50 percent.
Hamilton said the areas in question have been intended for annexation for quite some time.
“The boundaries of the city do not reflect the real, on the ground, city,” Hamilton said.
The annexation comes with a large upfront investment by the city to expand services by adding police officers, additional sanitation trucks and other staff. Hamilton said the next tax revenue the city will get from annexation will generate roughly $10 million in revenue in the first year.
However, the plan has not come without opposition.
The Monroe County Auditor’s Office said more than 1,400 remonstrance petitions have been filed so far to oppose the annexation. Those petitions have to be certified so it’s possible not all will be valid.
“The consensus that I am receiving by either emails, phone calls, people coming in…they oppose this,” said Van Buren Township Trustee Rita Barrow.
Barrow represents a large number of people who live in the affected areas. She said times have been tough and many can’t afford to pay more taxes.
“I’m not against the city growing. I’m against involuntary annexation,” Barrow said. “It’s a large take over, that’s the best way I can put it.”
To stop the annexation outright, 65 percent of residents have to file a remonstrance petition. If between 50 and 64 percent file a petition than the annexation can be challenged in court. If they fail to reach 50 percent, then the annexation goes through.
Here are the number of remonstrance petitions filed per area so far. These have not been officially certified and are subject to change:
Other cities like Carmel have done annexations in recent years. Paul Helmke is a professor at IU specializing in urban issues and is the former mayor of Fort Wayne. He said annexation is generally a good thing for cities and the people who live in them.
“It’s best to have the city boundary lines reflect where the people actually live,” Helmke said. “Then you’ve got everybody kind of pulling for the same team and everybody helping to pay for what’s going on.”
Helmke said this is a natural move and will likely continue to happen in other cities that are growing beyond their current boundaries.
“Cities that are going to be growing, cities that are going to be successful, generally expand their boundaries to reflect the reality,” Helmke said.
Residents of the affected areas have until Jan. 6 to file a petition opposing the annexation. If the annexation makes it through, the new boundary lines would take effect in January 2024.
To file a petition you can visit Bloomington City Hall or the Monroe County Courthouse.
More information on the annexation can be found here.