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Monroe County Commissioners Consider Showers Purchase

The Monroe County Commissioners say they can save the county money and help to expedite impending courthouse repairs by spending about $7-million to buy a new building, but the commissioners have not yet been given the go-ahead.

The Monroe County Commissioners are looking to issue a bond to buy the north end of the Showers building, which also houses Bloomington’s city hall. Commissioner Mark Stoops said the purchase will save the county money in the long run because departments currently in rented spaces -- like the Assessor’s office -- would be able to move back into county-owned property.  Additionally, divisions housed in the courthouse will be able to move into the new space temporarily as the courthouse undergoes repairs—helping to save rent money and reducing interruptions to local government.  Additionally, Stoops said, if the county buys the building, leases to the building’s current tenants -- including incubator businesses associated with Indiana University’s technology park – will be honored.  Stoops said that presents the opportunity to generate a little cash.

“The fact that this brings money back into county general and that we can have this paid off in five years without raising taxes really makes it an enviable project,” Stoops said.

Monroe County Council members -- who have voiced skepticism about the county’s need for additional space in areas other than community corrections -- will have the final say. The council must approve all general bond appropriations before any purchase can be made. Council President Geoff McKim said he’ll need some time to think it over before he can decide whether to support the move.

“Of course we have not had time to really look at the numbers and also to discuss them at a county council meeting. I anticipate that to go over a couple of months,” McKim said.

But McKim said he wouldn’t rule it out. After all, he said, now is a good time to buy. The Commissioners plan to formally present their plan to the council in December with an anticipated closing date in the early spring.

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