County, city leaders review draft interlocal agreement for convention center capital improvement board, set next meeting for Feb. 10

Several Bloomington and Monroe County officials met Monday evening to push ahead the $44-million convention center expansion project. They reviewed a draft interlocal agreement, circulated shortly before the meeting, that is intended to supplement statutory requirements for the eventual formation of a capital improvement board (CIB).

The three county commissioners, in addition to several members of the city and county councils, were joined by Bloomington’s deputy mayor, Mick Renneisen at the meeting they’d set at the end of last year.

Monday’s discussion centered on budgets, land, and appointments. Continue reading “County, city leaders review draft interlocal agreement for convention center capital improvement board, set next meeting for Feb. 10”

Vote on governing entity for convention center expansion project put off until Jan. 8 as more time needed to dot i’s in CIB ordinance

Two years and five days ago, Monroe County commissioners councilors voted 4–3 to enact a 1-percent food and beverage tax.

cropped 12-18-2019 commissioners thomas IMG_2974
From left: Monroe County commissioners Lee Jones, Julie Thomas, Penny Githens at their Dec. 18, 2019 meeting. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The convention center expansion, which the tax is supposed pay for, will need to wait a few more weeks to get a governance structure.

Monroe County commissioners voted Wednesday morning to put off until Jan. 8, 2020, a draft ordinance that would have exercised their power under a state statue to adopt an ordinance establishing a capital improvement board (CIB).

Chair of the board of commissioners, Julie Thomas, said the ordinance was “not quite ready for prime time.”

But it appears that the city of Bloomington and Monroe County have put the major differences behind them that have stalled the project since late May.

Formation of a CIB, which is now expected early next year, will answer the question of governance for the long-planned convention center expansion project.

The timing of holidays this year means that no meetings of the commissioners will take place over the next two weeks. That makes Jan. 8 the next possible regular meeting for the CIB ordinance enactment. Continue reading “Vote on governing entity for convention center expansion project put off until Jan. 8 as more time needed to dot i’s in CIB ordinance”

A capital improvement board for convention center governance as soon as Wednesday?

Based on discussion at a meeting of Bloomington and Monroe County officials last Thursday (Dec. 12), a capital improvement board could be established as soon as this Wednesday to provide governance for an expanded convention center.

Thursday morning’s meeting of the county council and the county commission was attended by deputy mayor, Mick Renneisen. Continue reading “A capital improvement board for convention center governance as soon as Wednesday?”

Monroe County commissioners want convention center deal done sooner than end of year, Bloomington city council OKs revised food and beverage tax request

cropped 12-04-2019 commissioners IMG_1445
Monroe County commissioners at their Dec. 4, 2019 meeting. From left: Lee Jones, Julie Thomas, Penny Githens. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Some increased pressure on Monroe County’s board of commissioners and Bloomington’s mayor generated some activity on Wednesday, if not progress, on the question of the stalled convention center expansion project.

In a week, it likely will be easier to tell how much of the activity counts as progress.

Late last week, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, and county elected officials started an extra push for a speedier resolution to the disagreements between the city and the county that have stalled the project since late May.

Part of Hamilton’s push included relenting on the question of equal representation for governance of the expansion project. Hamilton committed in writing to equal appointments by the city and county.

Hamilton’s effort can be analyzed as at least two-pronged.

Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners want convention center deal done sooner than end of year, Bloomington city council OKs revised food and beverage tax request”

Bloomington mayor suggests numerical equality for city, county in convention center governance, includes CVC in the mix

Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, sent a memo late Monday afternoon to the 19 other city and council elected officials that have been meeting since September to try to re-start the convention center expansion project.

cropped city county Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 7.12.06 PM

The project has been stalled at the preliminary design phase after a nine-member steering committee shepherded the project that far in late May.

Hamilton’s Nov. 25 memo suggests something that he was not yet ready to embrace last Thursday, when the group met in city council chambers: numerical equality for the city and the county’s appointments to the governance of the expanded facility.

Hamilton and the three county commissioners have been wrangling over what kind of entity to create for the governance—a capital improvement board (CIB), which is enabled by state statute, or a 501(c)(3). They’ve also not been able to agree on the split for the appointments on a seven-member CIB, if that’s the entity that’s created. The commissioners want a 3–4 or 4–3 split. Hamilton countered with a 6–1 or 5–2 split in the county’s city’s favor.

But the Nov. 25 memo now suggests a 4–3 split in the city’s favor, which appears to put the two sides closer than they were before. County council president Eric Spoonmore told The Beacon he sees the spirit of Hamilton’s memo as consistent with moving forward, adding that he was encouraged by it. Continue reading “Bloomington mayor suggests numerical equality for city, county in convention center governance, includes CVC in the mix”

“It’s time to just throw some dynamite on this thing,” says new Monroe County council president, who’s in favor of capital improvement board to re-start convention center expansion project

At their regular meeting on Tuesday night, Monroe County councilors handled a raft of routine business before a scheduled presentation from county attorneys on the legalities of capital improvement boards (CIBs).

The presentation and commentary from Jeff Cockerill and Margie Rice confirmed in more detail, what was already generally understood—that a CIB could handle all aspects of the convention center expansion project, which has made no visible progress in the last five months.

The presentation on CIBs was enough to persuade the current six members of the seven-member county council that it is the right tool in the short term for the next phase of the project, and the eventual ownership, oversight and operation  of the expanded convention center. A CIB can hire architects, engineers, accountants, attorneys, and consultants and acquire land for a capital project like the convention center expansion.

As a part of the presentation, councilors also heard that a building corporation would need to be formed, in order to avoid going over either the county or the city’s constitutional debt limit. That limit is 2 percent of the value of the taxable property in the geographic area of the respective governmental units.

A general consensus formed on Tuesday’s meeting that the tentatively scheduled third meeting of city and county elected officials on Nov. 21 should include just two items: the site plan (northward versus eastward expansion); and the formation of a capital improvement board.

On Tuesday, which of the county councilors was most supportive of moving forward with a capital improvement board was a close call. Continue reading ““It’s time to just throw some dynamite on this thing,” says new Monroe County council president, who’s in favor of capital improvement board to re-start convention center expansion project”

New mayoral letter sets backdrop for county council’s Tuesday briefing on governance of convention center expansion

County Commissioners Letter_11.9.19
Excerpt from the Nov. 9, 2019 letter from Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, to Monroe County commissioners, which was sent three days after he appeared at the regular meeting of the commissioners on Nov. 6.

Monroe County councilors will be getting a presentation about capital improvement boards (CIBs) at their meeting scheduled for Tuesday night.

The goal is for the fiscal body of the county to get a clearer understanding from the county’s legal staff about how a CIB might fit into the planned expansion of the county’s convention center.

County councilors will also get a presentation from the three county commissioners on the eastward expansion option for the convention center. It’s the option the commissioners favor. It’s different from the northward option recommended in the spring by a nine-member steering committee, and favored by Bloomington.

Part of the background for the Tuesday meeting of the county council will now include a letter sent on Saturday, by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, to the county’s board of commissioners. The board is the executive branch of government for the county.

The letter summarizes the mayor’s position in writing, which he expressed orally last Wednesday, when he attended the regular meeting of the commissioners.

The main point of conflict between the mayor and the commissioners is what entity should move the convention center expansion forward from a preliminary design phase that concluded this spring. The project has made no visible progress since the preliminary site plan recommendation was made by a nine-member steering committee in late May. Continue reading “New mayoral letter sets backdrop for county council’s Tuesday briefing on governance of convention center expansion”

Joint city-county convention center meeting: Financial analysis predicts smooth sailing, procedural pitch-and-yaw scuttles key agenda topic

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A second joint meeting of city and county elected officials about the planned convention center expansion was held on Tuesday night, this time at the county courthouse. The first such meeting was held a month and a half ago, at the existing convention center.

For roughly the first hour and a half of Tuesday’s meeting, the group’s focus was on the planned funding sources for the convention center expansion (food and beverage tax) and its related parking garage (TIF revenue).

The overall consensus of the group was: The presentation showed the food and beverage tax would generate sufficient revenue to pay for a 30,000-square-foot project, estimated to cost around $44 million. Previous questions about the adequacy of the city’s TIF district to pay for an expanded center’s separate 550-space parking garage got positive answers.

When the discussion of finances was concluded, Geoff McKim said about the city’s presentation, “It really was absolutely spot-on…all these questions—asked and answered.”

But the meeting concluded without a focused discussion about the third agenda topic, which was the formation of a capital improvement board. The unanswered questions indicated on the agenda were: When should a CIB be created? Which properties should the CIB own? Which units of government should make appointments to the CIB?

It’s possible the topic could surface again, at the next meeting of the city and county councils, plus the mayor and the board of county commissioners. It was tentatively scheduled for Nov. 21.

Scheduled for the Nov. 12 regular meeting of the county council is a presentation by county legal staff about CIBs.

Continue reading “Joint city-county convention center meeting: Financial analysis predicts smooth sailing, procedural pitch-and-yaw scuttles key agenda topic”