Bloomington city council supports CIB for convention center, but county ordinance likely needs redoing

By a vote of 8-1 at its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council passed a resolution of support for establishing a capital improvement board (CIB) to serve as the governance structure for an expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.

Dissenting on the vote was Kate Rosenbarger, who expressed frustration with the amount of time the council was given to consider the issue, as well as some skepticism about the need for additional convention space.

A CIB is a seven-member group that under state law can be established by county commissioners as a public body,  which makes it subject to Indiana’s laws on public meetings and access to records.

Under state law, a CIB can acquire real estate, build improvements, collect money and hire employees, among other things.

Instead of a CIB, mayor John Hamilton’s administration favors a 501(c)(3) nonprofit as the governance structure for a convention center expansion.

In a public statement released on Tuesday before the council’s Wednesday meeting, Hamilton restated that position.  Hamilton is quoted in the statement saying about a CIB “I will not endorse launching a process that I don’t believe will bring the result our community wants and deserves…”

At the city council’s Wednesday meeting, Bloomington public engagement director Mary Catherine Carmichael repeated the administration’s preference for a 501(c)(3) model. The following day, the administration announced Carmichael’s appointment as deputy mayor, to succeed Don Griffin, who has resigned effective at the end of the year in order to run for mayor.

The mayor’s current opposition to a CIB means the ordinance approved by county commissioners on Nov. 9, which established a CIB, will likely be void, unless there’s a dramatic reversal before the end of the year.

The ordinance establishes a CIB only if the city council and mayor agree to the terms in the ordinance. Continue reading “Bloomington city council supports CIB for convention center, but county ordinance likely needs redoing”

Bloomington’s city council to consider backing CIB model for convention center expansion

At its Wednesday meeting, Bloomington’s city council will consider a resolution of support for a capital improvement board (CIB) as the governance structure for an expansion of the Monroe Convention Center.

The existing convention center is located at the corner of College Avenue and 3rd Street.

The council’s resolution is a response to an ordinance approved by Monroe County commissioners a month ago, on Nov. 9, which establishes a CIB for the convention center expansion, but makes its enactment conditional.

In the ordinance passed by county commissioners, the establishment of a CIB for governance of a convention center expansion is contingent on the “city of Bloomington mayor and common council’s agreement with the terms of this ordinance.”

If by Jan. 1, 2023, the mayor and the city council don’t send the county commissioners an indication that they agree with the terms of the county ordinance, the ordinance is void.

The backdrop to the city council’s consideration of CIB resolution is Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s strong preference not to use a CIB, but rather a nonprofit, specifically a 501(c)(3), to have jurisdiction over a convention center expansion. It’s an approach that would give the city more control.

In August of this year, Hamilton announced that he wanted the city to handle the convention center expansion on its own, without the kind of ongoing collaboration that had been previously  envisioned by

Also a part of the backdrop for the city-county back-and-forth over the convention center expansion is a sense of urgency, because of the possible sunsetting of food and beverage taxes in Indiana, as part of the General Assembly’s legislative agenda during its 2023 session.

Monroe County’s 1-percent food and beverage tax was enacted by the county council in 2017, specifically in order to fund a convention center expansion. Continue reading “Bloomington’s city council to consider backing CIB model for convention center expansion”

Company email: Catalent’s Bloomington operation to cut 400 jobs

In a Wednesday morning email sent site-wide on behalf of Andrew Espejo, who is general manager of Catalent’s manufacturing facility in Bloomington, the pharmaceutical manufacturing company has announced a reduction of its Bloomington workforce by 400 jobs.

The email indicates that employees—which include full-time and temporary employees, mostly within the operations team—will be notified between Wednesday and Friday to “discuss the next steps, review available support, and address any questions the impacted employees may have.”

Wednesday’s email message states: “Those who are not contacted by Human Resources should report to work as scheduled.”

The message also says, “[W]e’re committed to operating in a transparent manner to ensure every employee impacted by these changes has the information and support they need, severance pay, benefits continuation, and outplacement assistance.”

The email states that “every colleague on this team has performed admirably,” and adds that the workforce reduction is in “no way a reflection of the quality of the work we’ve done.” Continue reading “Company email: Catalent’s Bloomington operation to cut 400 jobs”

Potential convention center deal: City, county leaders meet, agree to meet again

On Wednesday at noon, the possible expansion of the county convention center was the topic of a meeting of Monroe County and Bloomington officials.

The gathering at the county courthouse included county commissioners, some county councilors, city councilmembers and the mayor’s office.

It was the first time that representatives from all four groups had sat at the same table on that topic since early March of 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

After about 45 minutes of conversation, the group had not made much progress, but agreed it was worth another meeting.

The city wants to get a deal done by the end of September. So “sooner rather than later” was the city’s wish for a next scheduled meeting.

One twist that emerged on Wednesday was the possibility that a convention center deal between the city and the county could hinge on Bloomington’s approval of a rezone for land that the county wants to use for construction of a new jail.

At the table were: Mary Catherine Carmichael (Bloomington’s director of public engagement); Susan Sandberg and Sue Sgambelluri (president and vice president of the Bloomington city council); Lee Jones, Julie Thomas, and Penny Githens (Monroe County commissioners); and Cheryl Munson Geoff McKim (Monroe County councilors). Continue reading “Potential convention center deal: City, county leaders meet, agree to meet again”

Convention center notebook: Monroe County commissioners react to Bloomington pitch by putting appraisal of property on agenda

“I think it only makes sense to go into negotiations armed with knowledge.”

That was county commissioner Julie Thomas’s commentary on Wednesday morning about the possibility of getting an appraisal of county-owned real estate in downtown Bloomington.

Her comment came at the end of Wednesday’s work session, which followed the regular meeting of the three commissioners. The approval of a contract for the appraisal of county real estate in downtown Bloomington will likely appear on next Wednesday’s (Aug. 17) regular meeting agenda.

Possibly getting the county’s property appraised comes as a reaction to a proposal from the city of Bloomington, to transfer the real estate connected with the convention center to the city. That means the existing building, as well as other property the county has acquired as part of a planned center expansion. Continue reading “Convention center notebook: Monroe County commissioners react to Bloomington pitch by putting appraisal of property on agenda”

County council warm to Bloomington’s pitch for convention center transfer

While a lot of details remain to be worked out, Monroe County councilors appear receptive to the basic idea of transferring ownership of the county’s convention center and related properties to the city of Bloomington.

The city’s hoped-for timeline for getting the deal done is the end of September.

At their regular meeting on Tuesday, county councilors took turns responding to a pitch from Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Eric Spoonmore, who is their former colleague, and Bloomington deputy mayor Don Griffin. The two gave a somewhat longer version of the proposal that county commissioners had heard during public commentary at their regular meeting last Wednesday. Continue reading “County council warm to Bloomington’s pitch for convention center transfer”