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Monroe Convention Center Expansion Still Trying To Find Equal Representation

Monroe Convention Center meeting

County Council members Cheryl Munson and Marty Hawk listen to city council member Steve Volan. (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

Bloomington and Monroe County officials are finding out that equal representation for the convention center expansion project might not be as ‘definable’ as they thought. 

City and county leaders are working on an interlocal agreement on how the different government bodies will work together in moving the process along.

Monday night’s meeting at the courthouse was a follow-up from last month to work out differences in the agreement and move into the next stage of development. But county and city officials will have to meet again next month after being unable to come to an agreement.

“It does seem we are very far apart on this,” said County Commissioner Julie Thomas.

City Council, the mayor, county commissioners, and County Council also debated Convention Visitors Commission or CVC membership. The commissioners appoint two of the five members to one-year terms, while County Council appoints the other three members to two-year terms under Indiana code. One appointment is required to be an hotelier in the county by statute.

Officials couldn’t agree on how the city recommends members to the county council while keeping equal representation on the board.

The county and city also disagree on how much of the land the county should hand over to the yet-to-be-named Capital Improvement Board (CIB).

Mayor John Hamilton says the land the county paid with the Innkeepers Tax should be under the CIB. He says the CIB could then manage the existing debt on some of the land.

“We should trust the CIB on our behalf, it’s not some third alien party," he says.

Hamilton says the CIB could also sell some of the land if it needs money for operational costs.

Thomas says current architect plans doesn’t include land south of the current convention center. She says land not used for the convention center shouldn’t be kept vacant and held under the CIB.

“They’ve got enough to do," she says. "I don’t want them to be a developer for all of our county owned property. That, to me, is wildly inconsiderate.”

County and city legal staff have a month to hash out the agreement before the next meeting tentatively scheduled for March 2.

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