Land contributions for the convention center are a sticking point.
Bloomington city council president Steve Volan.
Monroe County councilor Marty Hawk.
County and city officials meet on Feb. 10, 2020 to discuss the convention center expansion.
After meeting for more than two hours on Monday night, city and county officials were maybe incrementally closer to hammering out an interlocal agreement that’s meant to help move forward a $44-million convention center expansion project.
The current convention center is located at College Avenue and 3rd Street.
On Monday, elected officials reviewed the newest draft of the interlocal agreement, which is intended to supplement statutory requirements for the eventual formation of a capital improvement board (CIB).
Sticking points are the same as those identified at a meeting earlier in the year: the way appointments are made to the convention and visitors commission; and which parcels of land will be contributed to the new CIB by the two sides.
Of the two topics, it’s the land contributions where city and county officials have the more serious disagreement. President of the county commissioners, Julie Thomas, said about the land issue: “We are really far apart on this one.”
The city wants to see all the city- or county-owned land in the vicinity of the convention center put at the disposal of the CIB. County officials want to contribute just the parcels to the CIB that are known to be needed for the current project. [city proposal] [county proposal]
The two sides are hoping for a next meeting on March 2.
May 19 will be the one-year mark for the time the project has been stalled, since a steering committee voted to recommend a northward instead of an eastward expansion of the existing convention center facility. The yet-to-be-formed CIB is supposed to make the final choice of the site plan.
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.
Monroe County Convention Center, Dec. 23, 2019, colorized red.
Monroe County Convention Center, Dec. 23, 2019, colorized green.
Unlikely to be resolved, even after a thousand years of diplomacy, is the ongoing bitter dispute over the best Christmas color. It’s green, some will say. But some stubborn souls will always insist that it’s red.
An occasional centrist will advocate for white, ignoring the fact that it’s not even a color.
After months of disagreement between city and county officials, in the last couple weeks, the choice of governance for the $59-million expansion of Monroe County’s convention center has settled on the formation of a capital improvement board (CIB).
A CIB is enabled under the state statute as an entity that county commissioners can create through enacting an ordinance.
At a Thursday late afternoon meeting that wrapped up in about an hour, Monroe County and Bloomington officials continued reviewing some of the gnarlier details of an interlocal agreement that is planned to supplement the statutory requirements for the CIB.
The outcome of the meeting is that county attorney Jeff Cockerill and Bloomington’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, will be working just before year’s end or in the first few days of next year to put together a draft of the interlocal agreement.
Two years and five days ago, Monroe County commissioners voted 4–3 to enact a 1-percent food and beverage tax.
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.
Two days short of the second anniversary of the Monroe County council’s vote to enact a 1-percent food and beverage tax, city of Bloomington and county officials have agreed on the basics of the governance structure for a $59-million convention center expansion.
By law, the tax has to be spent on the expansion of the current convention center facility or related economic development projects. The current facility is located on the southwest the corner of College Avenue and 3rd Street.
[Update at 1:18 p.m. Dec. 11, 2019: This piece has been updated at the end to include action from Wednesday morning]
At their Tuesday night meeting, Monroe County councilors helped set the stage for Wednesday morning’s negotiations between county commissioners and Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, about the governance of the convention center expansion project.
Will it be a statutorily-enabled capital improvement board (CIB) or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that decides the site plan, acts as the architect’s client, and eventually owns the facility?
The county council’s stage-setting work included approval of a resolution that expresses the council’s support for the CIB option, with a 3-3-1 split of appointments between the city and the county on the seven-member board. The county and city would get three appointment apiece, with the seventh member appointed by the first six.
But on Tuesday, the county council also set in motion what had previously been more or less an implicit threat: If the county commissioners cannot agree on a governance model and put it in place to implement the $59 million project, the county council will exercise its power to sunset the food and beverage tax. The county council enacted the tax two years ago on a 4–3 vote.
City councilmember Steve Volan at the Dec. 4, 2019 Bloomington city council meeting.
County councilor Eric Spoonmore at the Dec. 4, 2019 Bloomington city council meeting..
County commissioner Julie Thomas at the Dec. 4, 2019 Bloomington city council meeting..
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.