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A Monroe County Council member is raising concerns about plans for a new parking garage in downtown Bloomington. The County Commissioners have already voted on financing for the garage. But the Commissioners, which make up the executive branch of County government, effectively bypassed the County Council, which oversees County finances. Council member Marty Hawk said there are problems with leaving the Council out of decisions to build multimillion dollar structures.
The Commissioners had apparently discussed the parking garage in work sessions, but not during their regular meetings on Friday mornings. The work sessions are technically open to the public but they are not filmed and broadcast like the regular meetings are. Hawk urged the Commission to hold their work sessions in a space that could be easily recorded.
Commissioner Iris Kielsing was present at the Council meeting. She said it might not be easy to have all the Commissioners meetings filmed.
The parking garage would be used primarily by County employees. The building will also include a space that could be used in case the County Jail needs evacuated. Currently there is no structure to house inmates in case of an emergency. But besides those benefits, Kiesling told the Council the Commissioners have larger plans in mind. She said County employees who would park in the new garage are currently finding parking outside the Convention Center.
If the County sells its portion of the Convention Center to the city or to some other entity, Kiesling said that money could be used to pay for the new garage. The current plan is to pay for the structure out of the County’s cumulative capital development fund. That fund is used for a variety of capital expenses, including some road projects. Although County attorney Michael Flory said there appears to be enough money in the fund to pay for the garage, some Council members voiced concern. Cheryl Munson said the County may soon have to spend more money from that fund on roads.
Hawk said she’s not necessarily opposed to the new garage, but she wished she was consulted about it.
Unless plans change, the Council won’t actually vote on any measure related to the garage until next October, when it considers the entire County budget.