Monroe County 2023 budget notebook: Councilors mull $2K one-time retention bonus

In 2023, Monroe County employees could see a $2,000 quarterly retention bonus, paid out quarterly.

The screen grab from the CATS broadcast links to the video recording, cued up to the start of the discussion about the potential $2,000 one-time bonus.

That’s in addition to the 5-percent COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) that their draft budget already includes.

The working number for the total 2023 Monroe County budget is in the ballpark of $90 million.

Here’s the back-of-the-napkin math some councilors did on Thursday: $2,000 times about 600 employees equals about $1.2 million more.

None of that is certain.

The next steps in the county’s budget process include a public hearing on Oct. 4 and a vote that is set for Oct. 18.

Discussion of the $2,000 retention bonus came on Thursday (Sept. 15), after five nights of budget hearings that stretched across two weeks. Monroe County councilors wrapped up the budget hearings with a discussion of employee compensation. Continue reading “Monroe County 2023 budget notebook: Councilors mull $2K one-time retention bonus”

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”

2023 budget notebook: Monroe County council recommends 5% pay raise for planning purposes

Monroe County employees could be looking at a 5-percent increase to their pay in 2023, while inflation is running a few points higher than that.

At their Tuesday night meeting, Monroe County councilors voted unanimously to recommend for current budget planning purposes that a 5-percent cost-of-living adjustment be made to county employee compensation.

That’s the amount that will be used by staff as they draft the 2023 county budget.

Tuesday’s vote to recommend a 5-percent increase came after county board of commissioners president Julie Thomas reported to the council that the commissioners support an increase that’s nearly double that amount—9.5 percent.

The figure supported by commissioners is based on comparing the June 2021 to June 2022 consumer price index (CPI), as calculated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the midwest region.

It’s the county council’s typical approach to look at the December-to-December numbers for the previous year. Comparing December 2021 to December 2020, the current CPI shows a 7.5-percent increase. Continue reading “2023 budget notebook: Monroe County council recommends 5% pay raise for planning purposes”

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”

First Black woman chosen by Monroe County Dems for council: “Yes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”

Jennifer Crossley was chosen at Sunday afternoon’s Democratic Party caucus to fill the vacant seat on the seven-member Monroe County council.

That means she’ll be stepping down as chair of the Monroe County Dems. Instead of Crossley, presiding over the caucus proceedings on Sunday was party vice chair David Henry.

The caucus was held in the auditorium of the Monroe County Public Library.

In her remarks delivered before the vote, Crossley said, “I’m running to fill this seat because I truly feel and believe that representation matters. And it is important to me that individuals from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and socio-economic statuses are in elected positions and get a seat at the table.”

Crossley added, “And as a Black woman, I feel that I bring this to this table. This is a historic moment in our county and our party, because if voted in this caucus today, I would be the first Black woman to serve on the county council.”

Crossley wrapped up her point by saying, “Yes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” Continue reading “First Black woman chosen by Monroe County Dems for council: “Yes, I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.””

Crossley declares bid to fill Monroe County council vacancy, recuses herself from caucus process as Democratic Party chair

In a communication issued by the Monroe Democratic Party late Tuesday afternoon, logistical details were released about a caucus to fill the District 4 vacancy on the county council.

The caucus will be held on Sunday, Dec. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Monroe County Public Library.

The bigger news in Tuesday’s release was party chair Jennifer Crossley’s declaration that she will stand as a caucus candidate to fill the vacancy.

The vacancy in District 4 will be created when incumbent Eric Spoonmore’s resignation becomes effective on Nov. 30.  Spoonmore is resigning to take the job of president and CEO of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.

Under state law, it’s the party to which the resigning councilor belongs that has the responsibility to find a replacement. Normally, the party chair presides over the caucus.

In the event of a tie vote among the 20 precinct chairs of District 4, it’s the party chair who would, under state law, cast the deciding vote at the caucus.

But Crossley will be distancing herself from the administration of the caucus, according to the release. Crossley is quoted in the release saying, “[T]o be transparent and to make sure that our caucus runs smoothly, I am recusing myself on anything related to this caucus.”

Presiding over the caucus, instead of Crossley, will be the Democratic Party’s county vice chair, David G. Henry. Continue reading “Crossley declares bid to fill Monroe County council vacancy, recuses herself from caucus process as Democratic Party chair”

Spoonmore to resign from county council to take top job at Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce

In a news release issued on Monday, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce announced Eric Spoonmore as its pick to fill the vacancy that will be left when current CEO and president Erin Predmore leaves her position.

Predmore’s pending departure was announced in a news release issued by the chamber in late July. Applications for the open position were accepted through the end of August, according to the July news release.

Spoonmore will start the chamber job on Dec. 1, according to Monday’s news release. Spoonmore has worked as associate director of enrollment management at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business for more than a decade.

Effective Nov. 30, according to the Monday news release, Spoonmore will be resigning from his position representing District 4 on the Monroe County council. Spoonmore is currently president of the seven-member council, which is the elected fiscal body for county government.

Spoonmore is quoted in the news release saying, “I am excited to begin this next phase of service in my career, and I look forward to working with the Chamber Board, our talented staff, and all our existing and future members to build upon the myriad successes achieved throughout our impressive 106-year history.”

Chamber board chair Amy Somers Kopp is quoted in the release saying, “Eric will bring a wonderful perspective to the Chamber gained from his vast experience in county government and experience at Indiana University.”

Spoonmore announced in early July that he would not be running for reelection in 2022. So it was already known that someone besides Spoonmore would be sitting in the District 4 county council seat no later than the start of 2023.

Monday’s announcement means that the District 4 seat will be filled a year earlier with someone different—initially by a caucus of the Democratic Party, not by a general election. Continue reading “Spoonmore to resign from county council to take top job at Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce”

Part of Monroe County’s $3.1 million bond issuance: Design for sidewalk near new library branch

A pedestrian connection between the intersection of Country Club Drive and Rogers Street, heading southward towards the new library branch, is part of the list of capital projects to be funded with a $3.1-million bond issuance from Monroe County.

The bond issuance was given approval by the Monroe County council at its Tuesday meeting. The county commissioners had signed off on the bonds six weeks earlier, on Sept. 1.

The annual issuance of bonds, to pay for a collection of capital projects, is an approach that the county government has taken for the last few years.

Besides $250,000 for the Rogers corridor sidewalk project, which will start with design work, this year’s list of bond projects includes: Phase 2 health building renovation; virtual cluster upgrade; non-law-enforcement vehicles; solar infrastructure; a vacuum truck; a mini excavator; a grader; a low boy; trail connections; and park renovations. Continue reading “Part of Monroe County’s $3.1 million bond issuance: Design for sidewalk near new library branch”

Consultant scrutinizes Bloomington’s annexation fiscal plan: $866K bigger blow to Monroe County local income tax revenue

A two-person team from the Baker Tilly accounting firm, hired by Monroe County’s board of commissioners to review Bloomington’s annexation fiscal plan, presented its report to the county council on Tuesday night.

Baker Tilly found that in Year 2, the impact on local income tax (LIT) revenue to Monroe County government would be negative $1.4 million. That’s a $866,000 bigger impact than Reedy Financial Group reported in Bloomington’s annexation fiscal plan. Reedy analyzed the impact as negative $534,694.

Paige Sansone and Deen Rogers, the accountants from Baker Tilly who did the work for the county, noted a handful of other issues with Bloomington’s fiscal plan, none of which had a significant financial impact. Continue reading “Consultant scrutinizes Bloomington’s annexation fiscal plan: $866K bigger blow to Monroe County local income tax revenue”