Bloomington’s proposed annexation plan will be getting scrutiny from a financial consultant hired by Monroe County.
At their weekly meeting on Wednesday, county commissioners approved an agreement with Baker Tilly US, for “review and analysis of the city of Bloomington’s annexation fiscal plan.”
The not-to-exceed amount for Baker Tilly’s work for the county is $50,000.
The Baker Tilly report will give county officials their own projections, independent of the city’s, for the impact of annexation on county government revenues.
Cockerill told commissioners that the expected timeline is 45 days for Baker Tilly to complete the work of reviewing and checking the fiscal analysis. That would put the county’s own analysis in hand by around mid-July.
Bloomington’s timeline for annexation calls for public hearings on August 4, with city council votes to come in September.
The eight different areas that are being considered for annexation would add 9,255 acres to Bloomington’s land area and an estimated 14,377 people to the city’s population.
On Wednesday, city officials confirmed that one of the parcels owned by Cook Group, which was shown in city maps as included in the territory to be annexed, should not have been included. That’s based on the $1.5 million payment-in-lieu-of-annexation agreement approved by the city council in 2017.
Bloomington city attorney Mike Rouker said the mistake was caught in time for Reedy Financial Group, the city’s consultant, to revise the fiscal plan analysis before presentation to the city council on May 19. The time was not enough to revise the maps.
The fiscal plan prepared by Bloomington focuses on the impact of annexation on property owners in the areas to be annexed, not on property owners inside the city.
Responding to a question from The Square Beacon during Wednesday’s commissioners meeting, county attorney Jeff Cockerill said he did not think a parcel-by-parcel analysis for current property owners inside the city of Bloomington would likely be possible for Baker Tilly to complete within the relatively tight timeframe.
Cockerill ventured that it would likely add to the cost, but would check with Baker Tilly, and would defer to commissioners on the inclusion of additional work in the scope of work.
President of the board of commissioners, Julie Thomas, said the question of impact on city property owners was one that the county had previously considered.
About the idea of analyzing the impact of annexation on city departments, Thomas said, “I think that that would require really digging into the city’s budget, which may be well beyond our timeframe and our fiscal ability to.” She added, “But this is an important question.”
The Cook Group parcel, which was mistakenly shown on the initial city maps as part of Area 1A to be annexed, is a part of a county TIF district.
The question of how Bloomington’s annexation plans might impact some of the county’s tax increment finance (TIF) districts was raised during public commentary at the commissioners meeting, by county redevelopment commission (RDC) member Jim Shelton.
How the annexation will affect TIF revenue is important to be sorted out before annexation decisions are made, because the county’s RDC, which oversees investments of TIF revenue, has some infrastructure projects in the works, Shelton pointed out.
Shelton said, “We’ve got two major projects going, where we’re acquiring right-of-way right now. So we’re spending money. And if it turns out that we can’t afford to do one of them, we need to know it long before this thing is ever over.”
One of the projects described by Shelton is the Fullerton Pike Phase 3 project, which includes the construction of new roundabouts. One roundabout is at the intersection of Fullerton Pike and Rockport Road. The other is at the intersection of Clearview Drive and Gordon Pike, across from Batchelor Middle School.
The other significant infrastructure project that might be affected by the impact of annexation on TIF revenue is related to road extensions in the Westside TIF district.
Already mostly done is an extension of Profile Parkway to Gates Drive. The other one, would extend Sunrise Greeting Court from Vernal Pike down to Gates Drive.
Shelton told commissioners that Bloomington has agreed to send a representative to give a presentation to the county’s RDC at its next regular meeting, on June 16.
Shelton also noted the mistaken inclusion of the Cook Group parcel on the city’s annexation map.
City attorney Mike Rouker told The Square Beacon that the parcel got missed because of a “mere oversight,” noting that it’s included in the 2017 payment-in-lieu-of-annexation agreement as part of a possible acquisition by Cook Group.
It’s described as covered under the agreement, Rouker said, provided that Cook Group closed on the deal, which it did.
The parcel is described in the payment-in-lieu agreement only by the common street address, which is 301 N Curry Pike, not by its parcel number. The property is not included on a page of the agreement that lists out the parcel numbers of land that is covered under the agreement.
The $6.5 million purchase of the old General Electric property by Cook Group is recorded in the county’s online property lookup system as Nov. 28, 2017. The Bloomington city council approved the payment-in-lieu-of-annexation agreement with Cook Group on Oct. 19, 2017.