At their Wednesday meeting, Monroe County commissioners decided to send a request to the local food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC) that they be able to use “any and all” of the county’s share of food and beverage tax proceeds for existing convention center debt and management expenses.
Historically it has been innkeeper’s tax revenues that have been used to pay the convention center debt service. But innkeeper’s tax revenues have have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Food and beverage revenues are also down due to the pandemic, but not by as much.
Hamilton delivered remarks to the city council on Monday night for the first night of a four-day series of departmental budget hearings, which wrap up on Thursday.
If the focus is narrowed just to the general fund, the picture looks the same as last year, with a couple of caveats.
Proposed for this year is $48.69 million which is a 4.1 percent increase, compared to last year’s $46.76 million. But adjusting for a $2 million package of “Recover Forward” initiatives and a decrease in property tax cap expenditures of $193,772, the proposed budget works out to a zero percent increase (out to two decimal places).
That portion of the parking lot has different owners. Based on a count using aerial images from the Monroe County GIS database, the two parcels include around 45 parking spaces.
The RDC is still looking to buy the parking lot parcels, so they can be used for the Monroe County convention center expansion project. That’s why the RDC bought the Bunger & Roberston real estate.
The convention center expansion is currently paused due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For now, the RDC is leasing the two parking lot parcels from the owners. The deal approved by the RDC in May includes a contractual agreement that the RDC pay $3,500 a month, for an annual total of $42,000.
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.
In a letter sent Thursday to Monroe County commissioners, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, told them he plans to attend their weekly Wednesday morning meeting on Nov. 6.
The mayor’s letter didn’t come out of the blue—it was his response to an invitation sent by commissioners earlier the same day: “[W]e write to invite you to attend our November 6th meeting to discuss this exciting opportunity.”
The “opportunity” to which the commissioners referred was the idea of creating a capital improvement board in connection with the convention center expansion.
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.
Monroe County councilors Marty Hawk and Geoff McKim
Monroe County councilor Eric Spoonmore
Bloomington city councilmembers Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Chris Sturbaum
Bloomington’s mayor John Hamilton
At a meeting held Monday night at the Monroe Convention Center, elected officials from Bloomington and Monroe County governments got an analysis of revenue from the countywide food and beverage tax. It’s a one-percent levy that has been collected since February 2018.
Buzz Krohn, of O.W. Krohn and Associates, told the group that the city’s portion of the food and beverage tax would provide roughly $42.7 million of bonding capacity—on the “preferred” option for bonding.
That’s maybe $1.3 million shy of the $44 million needed for the current project to expand and renovate the convention center.