City hires design firm for downtown lighting

City hires design firm for downtown lighting

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BLOOMINGTON — The city will look at how best to finish placing decorative lighting fixtures across the downtown area, now that the City Council in a 7-2 vote approved hiring a design firm for that purpose.

Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Lower and Ward 4 Alderman Judy Stearns voted against hiring the Farnsworth Group to complete a downtown street master plan for $74,670.

Lower asked how the downtown street lighting plan would fit into a more comprehensive Downtown Strategy plan that has been controversial in the past because of form-based code elements. Form-based code would set stricter guidelines for the placement, use and design of properties than conventional zoning.

Public Works Director Jim Karch said the downtown street lighting plan is not necessarily related to the Downtown Strategy, which is being revised to eliminate form-based code. He said the decorative lighting plan is a continuation of work already completed that has been well received by downtown property and business owners.

If aldermen do adopt the larger Downtown Strategy, the lighting plan could be a part of that, Karch said, but “this does not have anything to do with form-based code.”

Aldermen also approved a severance agreement with City Attorney Todd Greenburg that incorporates a retroactive “merit” pay raise and provides three months of severance pay totaling $29,868.80.

The city also is on the hook for about $55,142 of unused sick leave — money that will be paid into a retirement health savings account. City Manager David Hales said much of the sick leave was accumulated under old “sick leave buyback” policies the city has since eliminated for newly hired classified employees.

Including severance pay, sick leave, vacation and personal time payments, the total cost of Greenburg’s departure is about $101,500.

The city said the severance agreement was developed to avoid litigation. Few other details surrounding Greenburg’s employment status — he’s been on paid administrative leave since Oct. 16 — have been released, other than to say his leave was not disciplinary.

The city is providing a letter of recommendation for Greenburg that lists his duties and accomplishments since he arrived at the city in 1990.

Aldermen approved the measure without discussion.

The city’s independent auditors also briefly presented the city’s annual financial report, offering a “clean” report on the city’s financial books.

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