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”

Joint meeting of Monroe County electeds to mull criminal justice report: “The jail facility is failing …”

“The jail facility is failing and cannot ensure consistent and sustainable provision of constitutional rights of incarcerated persons.”

Image links to .pdf of executive summary of RJS Justice Services report.

That’s one of several blunt assessments in a criminal justice and incarceration study dated June 20, 2021, which was released by Monroe County commissioners on Monday night. The study was conducted under contract by RJS Justice Services, with lead consultant Kenneth Ray.

Monroe County’s jail is located on the upper floors of the Charlotte Zietlow Justice Center at the northwest corner of 7th Street and College Avenue in downtown Bloomington. The building was constructed in 1985.

The report’s criticism of the jail facility is based on both its design and capacity. About the potential for the jail’s physical configuration to support the kind of programs that are needed, the report states: “The operational efficiency of facility design is non-detectable.”

About the adequacy of the current jail to house the number of inmates who are locked up there, the report says, “The daily inmate population exceeded the jail’s functional capacity on most days since 2004 and all days per year consecutively since 2015.” Continue reading “Joint meeting of Monroe County electeds to mull criminal justice report: “The jail facility is failing …””

Update on good trends for juvenile detention alternatives program heard by Monroe County council

At a Tuesday work session, Monroe County councilors took the necessary steps to ensure $55,000 in funding can be used to support programs that give youth some alternatives to detention.

The specific steps that were given a unanimous vote by the seven-member council involved the creation of some new account lines and additional appropriations. That’s the sort of thing that is the bread and butter of the council, which is the county’s fiscal body.

Councilors also got an update on statistics related to “secure detention,” which counts as one measure of how well the alternatives are working. The trend is in the right direction, which is downward. Continue reading “Update on good trends for juvenile detention alternatives program heard by Monroe County council”

Monroe County, Bloomington start with different angles on American Rescue Plan process

On Tuesday night, at separate meetings, Bloomington and Monroe County’s governments took their first step towards sorting through a spending plan for a local total of about $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

The ARPA is a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, to help counter the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bloomington and Monroe County estimated shares of the ARPA are about $22.3 million and $28.8 million, respectively. Continue reading “Monroe County, Bloomington start with different angles on American Rescue Plan process”

Bloomington budget advance session swapped out for talk about American Rescue Plan, same time as separate county meeting

Historically, April’s annual “budget advance” for Bloomington’s city council has been an occasion when councilmembers sketch out their aspirations for the next budget year.

The idea is to try to influence the mayor’s budget proposal, which is presented in August.

Based on “city council” by Thomas Deckert from the Noun Project

This year’s budget advance was set for April 27 at 6 p.m., when the city council adopted its calendar for the year.

Now, instead of using that slot on the next week’s calendar for the budget advance, Bloomington’s city council will use the time to get an initial briefing from mayor Hamilton’s administration on the city’s estimated $22-million share of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) .

Also on Tuesday (April 27), the county council and the county commissioners are convening a joint work session about ARPA  funding. The county’s meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

The estimated Monroe County share of the total $1.9-trillion federal package is about $29 million.

The announcement about the change in topic for next Tuesday’s city council session came from council administrator/attorney Stephen Lucas towards the end of Wednesday’s regular city council meeting. Continue reading “Bloomington budget advance session swapped out for talk about American Rescue Plan, same time as separate county meeting”

County council OKs food and beverage tax proceeds for convention center debt

At its regular Tuesday meeting, Monroe County councilors approved a $300,000 appropriation of food and beverage tax revenue to help make debt payments in connection with the county’s convention center.

The debt covers renovations and land acquisition that have already been made. It’s not related to the planned future expansion of the center, which is still part of city and county plans—even if it has been on hold during the pandemic year.

Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s state of the city address, given on Feb. 25, mentioned the convention center expansion as a question: “What is the future for the convention center and its planned expansion?”

The money approved by the county council on Tuesday will cover a bit under two of the $159,000 quarterly debt payments. The county’s food and beverage fund balance, as of the first of the year, was more than $600,000.

The use of the county’s share of food and beverage proceeds for debt service on the convention center was recommended by the food and beverage tax advisory commission at a January meeting.  Continue reading “County council OKs food and beverage tax proceeds for convention center debt”