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BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington City Council has tabled a vote on an east-side intersection upgrade.

The council was considering approving spending $900,000 for its share of the project with McLean County to expand the intersection of Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove roads.
 
At their meeting Monday night, Aldermen Karen Schmidt of Ward 6 and Scott Black of Ward 7 said they received a lot of negative feedback from constituents about the proposed project. Schmidt suggested delaying the vote to refer the matter to the city's recently-created transportation commission.
 
Black said the project does not fit into the city's comprehensive plan that places a priority on redeveloping and filling in vacant areas within the city's core area rather than suburban sprawl.
 
"I've heard just a lot of feedback from people who are not thrilled about us spending money on this," said Black. "People will list off a number of projects that from their perspective are of a higher priority than to alleviate traffic concerns during peak hours."
 
The vote to table the matter was unanimous; Ward 4 Alderman Amelia Buragas recused herself from the vote. 
 
Aldermen Diana Hauman and Kim Bray, whose east-side wards of 8 and 9, respectively, are in or near the project site, have heard from constituents who want the intersection upgrade to proceed.
 
"I know the (comprehensive) plan said infill, but the council before us approved the Grove (Subdivision) based on a previous comp plan," said Hauman. "These are residents of Bloomington too ... so I am going to take care of them."
 
Bray said the intersection project represents residents' priority on infrastructure spending.
 
"We need to take a holistic approach, in my view, about a level of service in infrastructure that starts with public safety and good traffic flow and servicing areas where we have schools and keeping people safe," said Bray.
 
In other action, the council:

• Voted unanimously to approve new procedures for paying or reimbursing elected officials' expenses. The ordinance prohibits elected officials from using city credit cards, also called procurement cards or p-cards.

Mayor Tari Renner had been the only elected official carrying a p-card, and he drew criticism last week after it came to light that he used his p-card to pay for a meal with Black while Renner was on a leave of absence from his mayoral duties from Aug. 28 to Oct. 1. Renner wrote a $30 check to reimburse the city for the charge.

"It was actually (Bloomington Finance Director) Patti-Lynn Silva who said, "Why don't you, for appearance's sake and so there's not a bad story ... go ahead and reimburse the city?" Renner said prior to the council's vote. 

Renner reiterated that he did not think it was an issue because he was "never not mayor" and took phone calls about city matters while he was on the leave of absence that he requested for unspecified medical-related reasons.

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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