Food and beverage tax group OK with $500K for limestone heritage tourism project, but agnostic on location


At Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of the food and beverage tax advisory commission, Monroe County’s board of commissioners got approval from the food and beverage tax group to spend up to a half million dollars on a limestone heritage project. The location of the tourism destination has not yet been determined.

From February 2018, when the tax started getting collected, through July 2018, Bloomington’s portion of the food and beverage tax has come to just under $4 million. For the same period, the county’s share is $522,800. Continue reading “Food and beverage tax group OK with $500K for limestone heritage tourism project, but agnostic on location”

County’s bond issuance OK’d for $3.3 million: Projects include quarry heritage land costs, but no action yet on land acquisition

 

At its work session on Tuesday night, Monroe County’s council voted 5–1 to approve issuance of general obligation bonds worth $3.3 million. Dissent came from Marty Hawk, who had expressed concern to the bond issuance from the time it was first proposed at $5.17 million in early September.

Hawk’s objection was based on the fact that the bond proceeds are supposed be used in part to pay for land to construct a limestone quarry heritage project—northwest of the I-69/SR-46 interchange.

Hawk has concerns about the land’s history, which is located next to a site that was contaminated with PCBs. At its Oct. 16 meeting, the board of commissioners approved a $2,500 contract with Vet Environmental for a review of environmental documents associated with the property.

On Tuesday night, county council put off a vote on land acquisition for the project, because the land appraisals have not yet been returned. In early October, the board of commissioners contracted for the second of the two required appraisals. Continue reading “County’s bond issuance OK’d for $3.3 million: Projects include quarry heritage land costs, but no action yet on land acquisition”

Monroe County councilors find $500K in projects that don’t need GO bond, get heads-up on RFP for election equipment

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A joint work session of Monroe County’s board of commissioners and county council was held Friday in the conference room off the county council’s office suite. At the head of the table is  county attorney Margie Rice. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

At a joint work session held Friday afternoon by Monroe County commissioners and councilors, the elected officials got a rundown of itemized cost estimates for projects to be funded with a $5-million general obligation (GO) bond.

The gathering grew out of some frustration on the part of councilors, expressed on Sept. 10, when the three-member board of commissioners first presented the proposed $5.17 million bond issuance to the council. On that occasion, councilors wanted to see the kind of detail they eventually got, on Friday.

County attorney Margie Rice told the group on Friday that she sensed some dissatisfaction from councilors with the earlier presentation—that’s why the extra session on Friday was convened. Rice told the councilors she’d never before seen this level of detail given to a county council for a bond issuance.

The detailed breakdown allowed the council to identify several items, adding up to $559,080, that they wanted to pull out of the bond proposal, and pay instead out of cash reserves or other funds. To be pulled off the list of bond projects were: renovating the Alexander Monument ($153,000); running fiber to the data center ($100,000); paving of a seating area on the courthouse grounds ($60,000); installing HVAC fans for the justice center ($50,000); and sealing the parking garage deck ($50,000), among other items.

Not a surprise was the idea of paying for the Alexander Monument using a source other than the bonds. Councilor Marty Hawk had advocated for that on Sept. 10, when she said that the county had enough cash to pay for the restoration of the veterans memorial. Hawk also objected at that time to the amount of the bond, which was $5.17 million. It was a change to state law that allows the county to bond for $5 million, plus a growth quotient, instead of just the $2 million worth of GO bonds the county has issued in years past.

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From left: County councilors Kate Wiltz, Trent Deckard, Geoff McKim, Marty Hawk, and county attorney Margie Rice. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

Based on the discussion on Friday, the county council will be weighing whether to go ahead and bond for the roughly $5 million, or to ratchet the amount down to $3 million. Bonding for $3 million, according to the board of commissioners administrator Angie Purdie, would not increase tax rates. Bonding for $5 million would mean an extra $27.66 in property taxes paid by the owner of a house with a value of $200,000.

Among the items that’s still proposed to be paid out of the GO bond is election equipment costing around $1 million. County attorney Jeff Cockerill announced to the group on Friday that an RFP (request for proposals) would be made for the election equipment. Prospective vendors will be asked to appear in Monroe County on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. to demonstrate their wares, Cockerill said. That comes after Monroe County’s election board appeared to have already recommended a choice of vendor, Hart Intercivic.

Continue reading “Monroe County councilors find $500K in projects that don’t need GO bond, get heads-up on RFP for election equipment”