Monroe County food and beverage tax: $6M in 23 months so far

Monroe County’s food and beverage tax advisory commission (FBTAC) convened its first meeting of the year on Tuesday afternoon.

Based on the numbers provided to commissioners, a smidgen over $6 million is the cumulative total that’s been generated by the 1-percent tax in the 23 months since it’s been collected.

At Tuesday’s meeting, officers for the year were selected, and revenue numbers were reviewed. Commissioners also set up their next meeting, on Feb. 10, when they’ll go over an annual report for last year. Continue reading “Monroe County food and beverage tax: $6M in 23 months so far”

City, county weaving web of agreement for convention center governance in 2020

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Monroe County commissioner Julie Thomas holds aloft a diagram that illustrates the relationships between the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FBTAC), capital improvement board (CIB), and convention and visitor’s commissions (CVC) at a Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019 meeting.  (Dave Askins/Beacon)

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.

Elected officials have set a next meeting for Jan. 13. Continue reading “City, county weaving web of agreement for convention center governance in 2020”

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?”

County, city disagreement defused with oral agreement to pursue CIB for convention center expansion, down to working out details

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.

The oral agreement, in principle to pursue a capital improvement board (CIB), was reached at Wednesday morning’s regular work session of the county commissioners. The session was attended by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, a handful of city councilmembers and other city staff. Continue reading “County, city disagreement defused with oral agreement to pursue CIB for convention center expansion, down to working out details”

Monroe County’s council loads legislative gun, levels it at food-and-beverage tax as prelude to Wednesday’s convention center negotiations

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Monroe County’s council on Dec. 10, 2019. From left: Cheryl Munson, Peter Iversen, Trent Deckard, Eric Spoonmore, Kate Wiltz, Geoff McKim, and Marty Hawk. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

[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.

Two alternatives were given a first reading on Tuesday to sunset the tax. No votes were taken. [Ordinance A] [Ordinance B] Continue reading “Monroe County’s council loads legislative gun, levels it at food-and-beverage tax as prelude to Wednesday’s convention center negotiations”

Convention center expansion deal between Bloomington and Monroe County looks possible by year’s end

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City councilmember Steve Volan (center), is flanked by deputy mayor Mick Renneisen and county commissioner Julie Thomas at Friday’s meeting about the convention center expansion. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Last Friday, city and county officials met for two hours about the convention center expansion. It was the latest in of a flurry of recent efforts to bridge longstanding disagreements on governance of the project. What entity will have control, direction and eventual ownership of the project—a capital improvement board or a 501(c)(3) non-profit? Continue reading “Convention center expansion deal between Bloomington and Monroe County looks possible by year’s end”

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

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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”

Vote postponed on Bloomington request for food and beverage tax money, opens week-long window for possible progress on convention center expansion

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Monroe County attorney Margie Rice (left) reads aloud from some city council meeting minutes as Bloomington’s corporation counsel Philippa Guthrie looks on at the Tuesday afternoon meeting of the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FBTAC).

[Note: The timeline at the end of this piece has been updated to include links to documents released at the Wednesday, Dec. 4 meeting of the Monroe County board of commissioners.]

On Tuesday afternoon, the food and beverage tax advisory commission (FBTAC) voted to postpone for a week Bloomington’s request for an additional $2.35 million of tax money to go with the $4 million that FBTAC approved in January of this year.

Food and beverage tax money, collected since early 2018, is required to be spent on an expanded convention center and related tourism.

Between now and the next meeting of the FBTAC on Dec. 10, it looks like county and city elected officials will either clear a path forward for the convention center expansion project or likely face at least the possibility that it won’t be built in the foreseeable future. Continue reading “Vote postponed on Bloomington request for food and beverage tax money, opens week-long window for possible progress on convention center expansion”

County commissioners rebuff mayor’s proposal on convention center governance, focus turns to next week’s $6M appropriation

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From left: County commissioners Julie Thomas, Penny Githens, and Lee Jones at Tuesday night’s county council work session as they read aloud a prepared statement rejecting Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s proposed governance for the convention center expansion. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The Monroe County council was not expected to discuss the convention center expansion at its Tuesday night work session. A draft resolution on the topic, floated at the council’s meeting two weeks ago, had been pulled from Tuesday’s agenda.

But an appearance at the council’s Tuesday’s work session by all three county commissioners led to a half hour of discussion of the convention center expansion.

The three commissioners took turns reading aloud a statement that concluded with a rejection of a proposal in the previous day’s memo sent by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, for the governance of the expansion project. Continue reading “County commissioners rebuff mayor’s proposal on convention center governance, focus turns to next week’s $6M appropriation”

Monroe County commissioners: Equal county-city representation is “only way” to move convention center expansion forward

Set for Thursday night in Bloomington’s city council chambers is the third in a series of meetings between city and county elected officials about the planned expansion of the county convention center.

short letter Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 12.38.43 AMA short letter from the three Monroe County commissioners, sent Wednesday to Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, will help now set the mood for  Thursday’s meeting.

The single sentence in the letter, which dispenses with salutation and closing, runs 27 words:

The only way we will consider moving forward with the Convention Center Project is with the County having an equal representation of membership on the oversight board.

The project is an expanded 30,000-square-foot exhibit space with a 550-space parking garage. It’s estimated to cost $59 million, of which about $15 million is for a parking garage.

In previous written and oral exchanges, it has been evident that representation in the governing entity—whether it’s a building corporation, a capital improvement board, or a 501(c)(3)—is a point of acute disagreement between county commissioners and Mayor Hamilton.

For a seven-member capital improvement board, commissioners have proposed either a 4–3 or a 3-4 split. Hamilton has countered by saying that he thinks 6–1 or 5-2 in the city’s favor would reflect better the city’s financial contribution to the project.

Based on Wednesday’s one-sentence letter, commissioners are not willing to negotiate the point. Continue reading “Monroe County commissioners: Equal county-city representation is “only way” to move convention center expansion forward”