It might be next year before all parties have signed an interlocal agreement between Bloomington and Monroe County—in connection with an expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.
The effort to get final consensus on a collaboration between city and county leaders about a convention expansion dates back several years, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
But two weeks ago, both branches of Bloomington’s government approved the interlocal agreement, for the operation of the capital improvement board (CIB) and the convention and visitors commission (CVC)—in connection with the convention center expansion.
Bloomington mayor John Hamilton inked the interlocal on the afternoon of Nov. 15. The city council followed suit that evening, with an uncontroversial vote to approve the interlocal agreement.
The county council and the county board of commissioners were expected to consider and approve the agreement this week.
But the item appeared on Tuesday night’s county council meeting agenda only as a discussion item. And that’s where it remained for Tuesday. No vote was taken, even though councilors expressed a fair amount of solid support for the agreement.
At its regular meeting last Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council approved its side of the interlocal agreement that will control the working relationship among local government entities as they collaborate on an expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.
The vote was 8–0. Kate Rosenbarger was absent.
Signing the agreement earlier in the day on Wednesday was Bloomington mayor John Hamilton. That wraps up the city of Bloomington’s side of the arrangement.
A seven-member capital improvement board (CIB) has finally been created to provide the governance for a long-planned expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.
The unanimous vote by the three county commissioners to create the CIB came at their regular Wednesday meeting. Their vote was greeted with a rare round of applause in the Nat U. Hill room at the county courthouse.
Clapping enthusiastically in the audience for the vote were county councilors Geoff McKim, and Peter Iversen, as well as Eric Spoonmore, who is a former county councilor and now CEO of the Great Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.
That appears to end the wrangling between the county commissioners and Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, over the governance of the expansion project, which has stalled the joint city-county effort since early March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Hamilton’s preferred way of handling the tasks that the CIB will oversee would have been through a nonprofit. A CIB is a public body, which the county commissioners can create under state law.
The long-planned expansion of the Monroe Convention Center, which has been stalled since March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, could take a small step forward next week.
At their regular meeting next Wednesday (July 5), Monroe County commissioners are likely to consider and approve an ordinance that will establish a seven-member capital improvement board (CIB) to provide the governance structure for the expansion. [2023-06-28 draft ordinance]
Expectations about next week’s action are based on the discussion at a Wednesday work session, which was held by commissioners following their regular meeting.
The previous night, at a county council work session, attended by commissioner Penny Githens, the council passed a motion made by councilor Geoff McKim, which supported the path that the commissioners are now taking.
On Monday at noon, the Bloomington city council convened a work session on the topic of the planned expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.
Providing a wake-up call to move the project forward was the Indiana General Assembly, which has now concluded this year’s session. Before wrapping up its work for the year, the state legislature passed HB 1454, which uses the local food and beverage tax as a prod, to require Bloomington and Monroe County to show some progress on the convention center project.
Monroe County councilor Cheryl Munson on Dec. 12, 2019.
Monroe County councilor Geoff McKim (left) and deputy mayor Mick Renneisen on Dec. 12, 2019.
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.