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 innkeepers tax revenues that have been used to pay the convention center debt service. But innkeepers 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.
“The way we handle grease at the [Dillman Road wastewater treatment] plant, it’s actually discharged into a lagoon where it is oxidized in the sun.”
That was city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) director Vic Kelson talking to the Bloomington city council on Wednesday about the grease that about 600 local restaurants clean out of their traps and are allowed to haul to the city’s wastewater treatment plant south of town.
The item on the city council’s agenda was a change to the ordinance on the FOG (fats, oils, and grease) program, which requires restaurants (food service establishments) to use grease traps to keep it from clogging up the city’s sanitary sewer system. The ordinance change was approved unanimously.
Monroe County Convention center looking southwest at the corner of College Avenue and 3rd Street. Sept. 4, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)
A public input session on the future of the Monroe County convention center has been set for Monday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. It will be conducted by video conference.
President of the county board of commissioners Julie Thomas made the announcement at the end of the board’s regular Wednesday morning meeting.
When The Square Beacon touched base with county council president Eric Spoonmore, he said, “It’s a good idea,” to have a meeting on the topic. Spoonmore added that it’s important to reach out to Bloomington officials to make sure they are included in the meeting.
A week ago Friday, the Monroe County council wrapped up a series of four budget work sessions in as many days.
On the docket for Friday were the funds related to the county’s convention center.
The recovery of the area’s tourism industry from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has already begun, but it will be gradual. It will follow a U-shaped trend, not a V-shaped pattern, according to Mike Campbell, who serves on the county’s 5-member convention and visitors commission.
Campbell sits on the board in his capacity as the associate director of the Indiana University Memorial Union.
Campbell gave projections for the county’s 5-percent innkeeper tax based on numbers that show a recovery starting to take shape. Revenues are expected to rebound from a low of about $49,000, reported in June this year. That was just 17 percent of the total for June in 2019, which was about $289,000.
Already on the books are increases in July and August to 40 percent and 60 percent of revenue for those same months last year. Based on September’s numbers so far, Campbell thinks the now-projected $155,000 figure for September will be hit. It won’t be until August of next year, however, when the revenues are forecasted to be back to previous levels.
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).
At its regular meeting on Wednesday morning, the three-member board of Monroe County commissioners approved the 10th and probably final round of grants as part of its program to give relief to businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That brought the total amount awarded by the county to right around $400,000, distributed to over 30 different entities involved in tourism-related enterprises.
The total amount of tax proceeds recommended by the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC) for the purpose COVID-19 relief by the county was $400,000.
One of the awards given by commissioners on Wednesday morning was a $10,000 loan to a previous grant recipient, Trailhead Enterprises. The money, which will pay for an air-conditioning unit, is supposed be paid back by Aug. 1, according to county attorney Margie Rice.
The other two grant awards on Wednesday went to Rising Star Gymnastics for $25,000 and The WonderLab Museum of Science, Health & Technology for $65,000.
At its regular meeting on Wednesday morning, the three-member board of Monroe County commissioners approved a couple of grants as part of its program to give relief to businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was the ninth round of grant awards, which brought the total amount awarded by the county to just over $300,000 to 32 different entities. One of Wednesday’s awards, for $6,000, went to Misfit Toy Enterprises, a karaoke service.
The other grant approved on Wednesday, for $23,225, went to the Monroe County History Center.
At Wednesday’s meeting, history center director Susan Dyar thanked commissioners, telling them that a fundraising gala had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, so generating revenue has been a struggle. The center re-opened to the public on Tuesday, she said.
Even though it’s physically located inside the Bloomington city limits, the Monroe County History Center is now eligible for a grant through an already established county government program that’s designed to support businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s the specific effect of a decision made at a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC). But the FABTAC’s decision applies to any entity “whose purpose and mission is to support the entire county in tourism related endeavors.”
What’s new for the county’s grant program is the suspension of a rigid geographic requirement that a grantee be located outside the Bloomington city limits.
Last Wednesday, Monroe County commissioners awarded about $21,000 more in grants to pandemic-affected tourism-related businesses outside the city limits of Bloomington. That brings the total amount awarded by the county to $266,442.
The food and beverage tax advisory commission (FABTAC), has recommended that the county can use up to $400,000 of such tax tax proceeds to help businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Bloomington has a corresponding loan program for up to $2 million of food and beverage tax proceeds. Through last Wednesday, the city’s loan numbers looked the same as the week before—$939,600 has been awarded to 34 businesses. All of the submitted applications had been processed as of last Wednesday.