National Security Threats?

ingodwetrust

Sept 23, 2022. Conservatives have become the enemy. Exclusive: Patrice Lewis warns left’s gaslighting, projection setting the stage for ‘something big’

Chronology

March 17, 2021  “Unclassified Summary of Assessment on Domestic Violent Extremism (DVE)” UnclassSummaryofDVEAssessment-17MAR21

    • Enduring DVE motivations pertaining to biases against minority populations and
      perceived government overreach will almost certainly continue to drive DVE radicalization and mobilization to violence. Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the US Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic,
      and conspiracy theories promoting violence—will almost certainly spur some DVEs to try to engage in violence this year

June 17, 2021. The First U.S. National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism .  On June 15, 2021, the Biden administration released the United States’ first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, which culminated the 100-day review of U.S. government efforts to respond to domestic extremism that President Biden ordered in January.

Sep 9, 2021. RealClearInvestigations’ Jan. 6-BLM Riots Comparison

    • RealClearInvestigations has developed the comparison database below allowing readers to draw their own conclusions — including the all-but-forgotten riot in Washington on Inauguration Day 2017, as protesters challenged Trump’s election and legitimacy.
    • The summer 2020 riots resulted in some 15 times more injured police officers, 19 times as many arrests, and estimated damages in dollar terms up to 740 times more costly than those of the Capitol riot.

Oct 31, 2021The January 6 Insurrection Hoax By Roger Kimball

    •  Notwithstanding all the hysterical rhetoric surrounding the events of January 6, 2021, two critical things stand out. The first is that what happened was much more hoax than insurrection. In fact, in my judgment, it wasn’t an insurrection at all.
    • An “insurrection,” as the dictionary will tell you, is a violent uprising against a government or other established authority. Unlike the violent riots that swept the country in the summer of 2020—riots that caused some $2 billion in property damage and claimed more than 20 lives—the January 6 protest at the Capitol lasted a few hours, caused minimal damage, and the only person directly killed was an unarmed female Trump supporter who was shot by a Capitol Hill Police officer. It was, as Tucker Carlson said shortly after the event, a political protest that “got out of hand.”  

Helmsburg Regional Sewer District (HRSD) Expansion

Updated Sept 24, 2022

Sep 22, 2022. ‘Moving really fast’: Helmsburg sewer officials seeking input ahead of grant application By  Abigail Youmans.  The board is considering applying for a grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to help fund a sewer project which would cost $1 million or more, HRSD Vice President Kyle Myers said.

    • Will the county be asked to provide matching funds?  if so, how much?  And, should county taxpayers be expected to help defray the cost of sewer service for Helmbsug customers?
      • Note that about half of a sewer bill is for maintenance. In a stable to declining customer base, costs for service will continue to increase.
    • The HRSD has an existing customer base.   They are also expected to provide service to new customers that range from Lake Lemon to Bean Blossom to Woodland Lake.  These new customers are in the boundaries of the Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD).  The BCRSD failed to acquire land for a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom and needs service from Helmsburg.
    • Why shouldn’t the HRSD Board be expanded and the Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) board be transitioned to a county advisory committee? This would result in “one” RSD serving a regional area.

Update: County response to the coronovirus

Sep 20, 2022.  BCD. New booster available at health department, targets more contagious strains of coronavirus By  Abigail Youmans

    • Have the vaccines been as safe and effective as advertised? Discovering the Truth requires an analysis of the data and debate on the arguments. In a trial, both sides are represented, the evidence is presented, challenged, and debated, and witnesses are cross-examined. In the case of the vaccine, only one side of the argument was presented while the other side was canceled and ignored. Reports from throughout the world are documenting the problems arising from a policy based on one-sided arguments. Steve Kirsch – “Evidence of Harm” was among the analysts that challenged the narrative and made million-dollar offers to anyone that could disprove his findings. No one took him up on his bets. The consequences of not discovering and confronting the Truths lead to failure in providing needed services.
    • Naomi Wolf at Daily Clout has organized thousands of volunteers to analyze the documents submitted to the FDA by Pfizer and publishes reports on the findings.

Commissioner Meeting Notes, Sep 7, 2022

Commissioner Meeting Notes Sep 7. 2022

Facebook Post.

Agenda updated with the audio time for each agenda itemAudio of the meeting

    • Agenda includes approval of minutes; Sheriff’s Department report on ordinance to establish the Sheriff’s Sale Program and service fee (second reading); Highway Superintendent report on miscellaneous updates; Purdue Extension/Town of Nashville/Brown County government report on bike/pedestrian trail RFQ; Community Corrections – Brenda Rodgers presenting the new Director of Community Corrections; VSO Proclamation presentation by Chris Snell; CumCap Fund update; ARPA resolution on premium pay; Commissioners discussion on ARPA funds and capital loan funds; Fall Salmon Room meeting location update and commissioner reschedule for the Sept. 21 meeting; Indian Hill proposal discussion; and Lake Monroe water management presentation by Maggie Sullivan.

Indian Hill Road RR Crossing  (40:00) – Opening to Pedestrian Traffic – legal aspects in discussion between the county attorneys, the Railroad and Tony Abbott, President, of Knobstone Hiking Trail Association (KHTA), 

 “Cum Cap Rate Increase. (27:49) Commissioners’ decision to raise the tax rate for the cumulative capital fund was approved by the State. A remonstrance was filed by citizens and the process was reviewed. It was concluded that all the required steps were followed.

    • Commissioners plan to reestablish cumulative capital property tax   0

      • The Brown County Commissioners are set to vote this week on reestablishing the cumulative capital development fund to the maximum rate of 0.0333 on each $100 of assessed value for 2022. Moving to the max would put about $56,000 more into the cumulative capital development fund, which pays for mostly county buildings and grounds upkeep, maintenance and IT services.The current rate is 0.0294, which means the increase will be less than a penny, said Caitlin Cheek, a manager with the county’s financial adviser Baker Tilly.

o. American Rescue Plan Funding (ARPA).  Commissioners reviewed the spending plan. This will be shared with the council at next week’s budget hearings.

Nashville Town Hall RoundTable Discussion – Sep 1, 2022 – Analysis and Decision-Making

Nashville Town Hall Roundtable, September 1, 2022 
Decision-Making Processes – Critical Thinking – Notes
 Presented by Tim J. Clark

Updated: Sep 5 , 2022

Facebook post at Brown County Matters. Sep 1, 2022. Tim J. Clark. Nashville Roundtable Discussion. Anna Hofstetter asked me to provide an overview of the assessment and decision-making processes that were incorporated in support of the Brown County Leader Network. I also supplemented with a context for “critical thinking” and the “Scientific Method.” Anna was the Town Council Rep present and there were three other members of the community including Commissioner candidate and school board member Stephanie Porter Kritzer Good discussions and ideas. These include how checklists can be used to support policies for approving decisions.

Outline and Notes

Purpose: Provide an overview and context for analysis and decision-making

Suggestion: Take a new or existing initiative and test out the methods and tools

Guiding Principle – Federalism. Citizens (We the People) and government at all levels working together toward “a more perfect Union.”

  • The quality profession has validated that the closer a product or service (including government services), gets to the ideal or target, the higher the quality (better results) and the lower the cost to the individual and society. Ref: Taguchi Loss Function

 1.  Identifying Problems and Solutions 

  • Avoid developing solutions without a clear identification of the problem. With a “Solution First” approach, bias enters into the identification of the problem in order to justify the need for the solution. 

2. Background Information – Hometown Collaborative Initiative (HCI) and Brown County Leader Network (BCLN)

  • HCI – State Program – Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA). Trainers from Ball State and Purdue

  • Three Categories of Projects – Placemaking (Quality of Life), Economic, or Leadership.
    • Brown County was the first community to select Leadership

  • Funding – 5K from the State; 5K from Brown County Redevelopment Commission (RDC)

  • May 2017. Application accepted – 30 Volunteers – numbers varied throughout the training and projects. Core Team – 4 members – Sandy Higgins, Darren Byrd, Brandon Harris, Tim Clark 
  • Capstone Project:
    • Initial – Placemaking – Local Foods
    • Revised, Approved, and Accepted – Brown County Leader Network, Support Guide and Website – Fact and process-based decision-making in support of continuous improvement
  • Self-Help Guide and Facilitation support 

3. BCLN-Support Guide

  • SWOT Assessment – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (Challenges)
  • Community Decision-Making Process
    • Problem or Opportunity
      • Context – Description of the situation, History, Background Information
      • Facts, Data, Assumptions, Constraints
      • Be Aware of: Speculation, Conjecture, Opinion, Anecdotes, Allegations, Hope, Context and people just making things up.
    • Ideal/Desired End State
    • Decision Criteria for Selecting the Best Option
    • Three Options or Alternatives (Solution)– Pros, Cons, Risk, Risk Mitigation
      • Analysis of Alternatives (AoA)
      • Risk – assess the level of certainty (1-10) and the harm that will be caused (High, Medium, Low).
    • Selection of the best option
      • Ranking against the decision criteria
    • Project Management – A project has a beginning and an end. Processes, Tasks, Schedule, Milestones
    • Strategic Planning – Systemic Approach – Stakeholder Identification and Assessment. (See SWOT). 
  • Stakeholder Identification
    • Direct – Receive the product/service
    • Internal – provide the product/service
    • Indirect – everyone else that is needed or affected in the near, mid, and long-term: Example: Suppliers, private, non-profit groups, other government entities, families, etc.
    • Stakeholder Assessment
      • Identify and Document: Needs, Product/Service Provided (Output), Expectations (Outcome) and Feedback Measures or Indicators
        • The Five Whys. To get to the need, identify the product/service and ask the Why Question; repeat the cycle.
    • Vision (See stakeholder expectations), Mission (See Products/Services), Goals, and Objectives (SMART), Feedback Metrics
    • Plan of Action and Milestones (POAM) – Includes a Follow-up plan

4. Scientific Method – PDSA – Integral part of BCLN

  • Hypothesis – Testable statement of a relationship derived from a theory. “If this, Then this.
  • Continuous Improvement and Learning Cycle: PDSA – – PLAN a change or test, DO: Carry it out – preferably on a small scale; STUDY the results; ACT on the results.

5. Critical Thinking and Fallacies. A system for building a “good argument. to support solutions and identification of a problem. Five criteria of a good argument: These five categories deal with:

  • The structural demands of a well-formed argument, (2) the relevance of the argument’s premises, (3) the acceptability of the argument’s premises, (4) the sufficiency of the relevant and acceptable premises to support the conclusion of the argument, and (5) the effectiveness of the argument’s rebuttal to blunt the force
  • Fallacy. “A fallacy is broadly defined as an error in logic and also to a mistaken or false belief.” ”A fallacy is a violation of one or more of the five criteria of a good argument.”
    • Example: Ad Hominin – attack the messenger (name-calling) and not the message
  • Rhetoric “The art of persuasive writing and speaking. The purpose is to persuade others to adopt a belief.”
  • Rhetorical Force. “The attempt to persuade someone to adopt a belief based on the psychological or emotive responses one has toward the idea.”
  • Common Rhetorical Devices– “Euphemisms and Dysphemisms, Weaselers, Downplayers, Stereotypes, Innuendo, Loaded Question, Ridicule/Sarcasm, Hyperbole, Proof Surrogates.”

6. Illustration of Critical Thinking – Criminal / Civil Case  

Sep 2, 2022. Update. The relationship to the “scientific method” in this case is that the aim of the justice system is to get as close to the same outcome based on facts and evidence despite “where” the trial may be conducted.

  • Problem/solution – compared an actual situation to the desired situation and identify a deviation (problem) – A basis for “The Argument”
    • Examples: County / Town Government – Proposed Solutions: New or Revised Ordinance, Project, Initiative, Expenditure, etc.
  • Roles (Stakeholders):
    • Community/Society – Benefits and Harms
    • Prosecutor – makes the case for the argument
    • Defense – makes the case against the argument
    • Judge – determines if the information presented is admissible – rules of evidence
    • Jury – evaluates all the evidence and makes a decision

Additional Information and References

 Brown  County Leader Network.com – Working towards a more perfect community, county and Union.

HCI -BCLN –  About

Independent Voters of Brown County. This site was used for posts until the HCI website was developed.

Capstone Project – BCLN

History HCI – Hometown Collaborative Initiative

Critical Thinking and Fallacies. 

 Other/ Misc – Various County and Town projects and issues

2020 County Election Data – For the Record

  Updated Sep 14, 2022

Brown County Paper – Election Integrity: Local and National. 

The Court denied the petition.

Sep 8, 2022Petition filed against county clerk, election board By Abigail Youmans

    • According to a notice from Judge Mary Wertz dated Aug. 25, the filing does not comply with Indiana State Rules of Trial Procedure. … The court further notified the petitioner it would not take action on said petition until requirements were met.
Aug 25, 2022.Petition.Injunction.082522 final Petition to Enjoin Clerk of Court and County Board of Elections from Destroying Election Data

electionCaseSummaryBCPetition

You Count Indiana (YCI) Focus on Election integrity and Education for Hoosiers.

57% of counties in Indiana do not have a paper back-up to confirm your vote.” (Ref: Video “You Count Indiana is all about you,” Total length 4:09, quote at 1:14 mark https://youcountindiana.com/

Video at Rumble:  (1:13:22) Did your vote count? Expose on Indiana’s Elections
https://rumble.com/vy3n3n-expose-on-indianas-elections.html

    • 3:18 Current Voting  Equipment – 62% of the state uses Direct Recording Electronic (DRE)  Devices  – no paper ballot trail or ability to audit the vote.
    • “Bottom Line Upfront 6:12 mark: “Get rid of those machines, they are not safe and secure, go back to paper ballots, a physical record of the vote is the ultimate check on the integrity of the election.”
    • At 12:44 “We must remove all machines from the election process…”
    • At 13:23 “Over 950 FOIA Requests; Less than 20 provided.”

At 15:31.  Using Johnson County data, election results for 25 other counties were nearly perfectly calculated.

election johnson county

Registration Key

    • Red Line – Number of Registered voters in each individual age group from ages 18 to 100
    • Blue line – Total Number of ballots cast in each of those same age groups
    • If you take the total number of ballots cast divided by the number of registered voters in that age group, you would get a turnout percentage for all 83 age groups, This allows you to create a key that if you could apply to all other counties in the state, would allow you to model the results in every other county down to each age group. 

Brown County 2020 Election sgraph

First look at the light and dark blue lines that are one on top of the other.  The light blue line is a calculation using Johnson County results by age and registered Brown County voters (red line) by age.  This calculation almost perfectly matches the election results shown in dark blue.  R= 0.996 is a calculation that shows how perfectly the two blue lines match.  1.0 would be perfect.  Human behavior is typically in the 0.6 range.  Take away: THESE RESULTS DO NOT REFLECT HUMAN BEHAVIOR.

The above video shows this same graph for 25 Indiana counties that have been closely looked at to date.  The Indiana First Action co-lead volunteer in charge of these calculations is a retired mechanical engineer and a six sigma black belt.

Dr. Frank of Ohio is the mathematician behind this original analysis. Here is a 3:30 minute video Dr Frank produced called “A Simple Metaphor” to help simplify the concept of the registration key which appears to be programmed into election software nationwide.

In conclusion..machines run on software programs that are hackable…an expert programmer explained recently in an interview that the entire country can be stolen with just 2 or 3 people hacking the software programs that run our elections.

IFA Assessment

 Indiana First Action (IFA) – MISSION:  INDIANA FIRST IS A GRASS ROOTS CITIZEN-DRIVEN TEAM WHICH BANDED TOGETHER IN JULY, 2021 WITH A MISSION TO ENSURE THAT INDIANA’S ELECTIONS WERE GOING TO REPRESENT THE WILL OF HOOSIERS. WE HAVE SEVEN MAIN SUBGROUPS ALL FOCUSED ON EVIDENTIARY ANALYSIS TO DISCOVER THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR ELECTIONS. WE HAVE ONE NON-NEGOTIABLE, WHICH IS EVERY SINGLE LEGAL VOTE COUNTS, WHETHER IT BE LEFT, RIGHT, UP, DOWN OR OTHERWISE AND NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE FAITH WE SHOULD ALL SHARE IN OUR ELECTIONS PROCESSES AND THE TRUST WE HAVE IN THE RESULTS.

 Check out your county’s information under the “County Resources” tab.  Brown County Information

election You counti ndiana browncounty

Additional Infomation 

Selection Code Movie – Case Study – Mesa County CO includes background information on the security of voting machines and how votes can be manipulated.   Indicates systemic corruption.

    • Election fraud in America: the evidence, Guest Post by Steve Kirsch.

      Once you open your eyes to the possibility that the systems you trust aren’t as trustable as you were led to believe, you start to see things that you could never before consider possible.

SEPTEMBER 07, 2022•PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS

Aug 22, 2022. Lindell’s Election Summit: Citizens Report on the State of the States. Indiana First Action (IFA) was represented.

Indiana First Action Cast Vote Record (CVR) Transparency

State of the Union? Local Strategies

American-Flag-Distress-signal_rt1Last updated: Aug 22, 2022

The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

Brown County Leader Network (BCLN) – Concept and website.  The Brown County Leader Network provides methods and tools for supporting improvement that leads to a more perfect Union, county, and community.   (Context, supporting information – Success Through Quality).

Aug 21, 2022. Fading Smile of a Dying Empire – Burning Platform

    • Choosing your allies and forming local communities of like-minded people with the skills to survive and thrive in the world created after the coming conflict is resolved, is all you can do at this point.

Aug 19, 2022.  Gen. Flynn: It’s Time to Activate Every Single American – We Must Take Immediate and Necessary Action By Michael Flynn, The Western Journal

Nov 21, 2021 – Brown County Freedom Rally – My speech – Freedom Rally, Brown County Indiana, 2021_11_21_2 FINAL Speech Freedom Rally. 

Jan 19, 2020. Is America in The Midst of a Cold Civil War?

2023 Budget Hearings

budget cut

Last updated: Sep 4, 2022  

Aug 31, 2022What to cut? County council begins work on 2023 budget, adoption scheduled later this fall

    • The county council will meet on Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. for the budget hearing and members are expected to make cuts to requests then. 

County Council – Budget Hearings – Aug 16-18, 5:00 p.m – 8:00 p.m. Additional hearings will continue in September and October. The final budget is due to the State by Nov 1.

  • Next Steps. The Council needs to reduce the budget to eliminate the deficit.  In the past, the commissioner’s budget accounted for the majority of the reductions.

The primary revenue sources for county government are income tax and property tax.  The county also receives revenue from the gas and excise taxes that fund road maintenance.

The Overall Process:  Councilman Critser shared his experience that the State always underestimates the revenue available to the county from income tax, property tax, gas, and excise taxes. The county also routinely underestimates expenses.  The budget always gets “balanced” per statute by Nov 1.  During the year, when expenses exceed budget, the needed changes (new appropriations and transfers) have to be advertised in the paper and approved by the council. The state also holds back county funds in cases of emergencies.

    • State Board of Accounts Section K “County Council Meeting”  There shall be a meeting of the county council not later than the last meeting in September, of every year, for the purpose of fixing the rate of the tax levy and making appropriations. [IC 6-1.1-17-5]
    • The Ordinance for Appropriations and the Ordinance of Tax Levies must be read upon at least two (2) separate days before adoption. [IC 36-2-5-11] Therefore, the council must be in session for at least two (2) days at the regular annual meeting.
  • Budget Consultant.  One of the key worksheets (below) that kick off the discussion is provided by the county’s consultant, Jacque Clements, Association of Indiana Counties.  The following “Worksheet” identifies the funds that the State Reviews. 2022 County Budget Worksheet
    • Terms and Acronyms on the Worksheet:
      • CCD – Cumulative Capital Development Fund.  A remonstrance was filed against this tax increase in 2022.  What is the status?
      • Mental Health Obligation Fund (Health). Required by statute.
      • Development Disabilities Budget – optional.
      • Bond $2.  The 3 million capital improvement loan (debt).
      • Jail Bond. – Mortgage payment on the Jail. (debt).
      • Cumulative Bridge Fund (Cum Bridge).

Indiana Fund Types and Fund Numbers – Chart of Accounts – 2021. (PDF. 2021-AIM-BudWrkshp-May2021-FINAL-LIVE)

Budget Deficit. The current draft of the budget is indicating a deficit of $943,970 (see Worksheet). The first drafts of the 2023 budgets submitted by the respective departments identified an increase of approximately $1, 026,100.00 or a 5.7% increase from 2022.  Council members are provided a “budget book” that identifies the requested budget for the next year, the current year’s budget by Department (fund manager), what has been increased, and what has been reduced.  The projected end-of-year balances for the current year are also helpful.

    • A Budget Books is available to the public at cost – generally around $14-16 dollars.
    • During the hearings, the council has asked for additional information to include reviewing the budgets for the past few years going back to 2020. This should help identify savings and trends in expenses.

Unfunded Requirements. There are always unfunded requirements.  It helps to separate the “essential costs” (must-haves) from the costs of the “good to have if there is money”  items.  An easy way of planning for unfunded requirements is to ask the department to identify, justify, prioritize, and document their “unfunded requirements.” Then if money becomes available during the year, the council is not surprised and can be asked to fund the items based on county priorities.  For example, the council will cut expenses this year by about one million. Might be useful to maintain a record of what was cut.

County Comprehensive Financial Plan.   Unlike last year, the update to the plan was not available prior to the Budget Hearings. It is expected to be finalized within the next few weeks.

    • An ending fund balance of 15% is the recommended goal.  An opportunity for improvement in the county is to review these balances on a quarterly basis.
    • It was suggested that each council member be assigned to review the performance of one or more of the departments’ budgets (actual to expected spending) during the year.
    • Included in a quarterly or semi-annual review would be a review of the status of meeting the 15% funding balance objective.
  • Performance Plans. The county does not have a formal plan where departments identify their vision (ideal/desired outcomes), goals, objectives, and accomplishments.  An exception is the Highway Department for Roads and Bridges.
    • Brown County Leader Network (BCLN ). The BCLN supports methods for making systemic improvements by reducing variation. Variation is a natural part of creation and represents the gap between the ideal or target and the actual situation.  The quality profession through the Taguchi Loss Function has validated that the closer any product or service gets to the ideal/target, the higher the quality (more needs met) and the lower the cost (tangible and intangible) to the individual and society (community).
    • System and Process Capability.  I would assess the county’s budget process at a Level 2 – meets basic requirements.

Health insurance has been the most problematic (unpredictable/out of control) expense. Brown County opts to be self-insured which adds risk. The county is liable for the first $60,000 (?) of expense per person and is reimbursed for costs over this amount. Like any other insurance, higher expenses increase insurance costs.   

    • Actual expenses have routinely exceeded what has been budgeted.  (600K last year, 400K this year).  Changes have been made this year and were expected to result in significant budget savings. Savings are not reflected in the first version of the submitted budget thus the request for additional information from prior years.  The  “savings” could contribute to reducing the need to increase the funding while not reducing the budgeted amount from the previous year.
    • County and Brown County Schools – Health Insurance – For the Record
    • Conflict of interest?  A few years ago, the commissioners and council extended the health insurance benefit to cover part-time employees including themselves. Not all of these elected officials have opted for the coverage.  The health insurance cost and benefits would likely be considered among the best in the country. In 2022, Councilman Dave Redding led efforts to make needed changes in order to better manage risk and costs.
  • Tax Increase. The increase in the property tax rate is determined by the Maximum Levy Growth Quotient (MLGQ). The estimated amount to be generated from the allowed higher tax rate is $176, 574.00. (Calculation is the MLGQ of 3,708,061 minus Normal Maximum Levy of 3,532, 487.)  This increase is “optional.”  The council has to vote to accept. In the past when Keith Baker was president of the council, the allowable increase was not accepted every year.
    • “A tax rate is the percentage used to determine how much a property taxpayer will pay. A levy represents the total amount of funds a local unit of government may collect on a tax rate. In other words, the levy is a cap on the amount of property tax dollars a local government is allowed by law.” Ref: Indiana Gov FAQ

Tax Policy and Revenue Source.  Counties have the option of allowing for relying on revenue from income tax or property tax but not both.  Brown County opted for the local income tax (LIT) option.

    • Brown County doubled the income tax rate in 10 years and recently shifted to freezing the income tax rate and shifted to relying on property tax.
    • The maximum state income tax rate is 2.5% BUT the law allows for increases based on a growth quotient.  Some counties have an income tax rate of over 3%.
    • Brown County’s income tax rate (0.025234) is among the highest in the state but is among the lowest on the property tax rate.
    • Tax Rates by Indiana County

Cost of Living Increases.  County employees have been receiving cost of living increases that have ranged from 1-3%. It was 3% last year and likely this year.  There have been years where no increases were provided.   The council (Dave Critser) has estimated that the cost at one percent is about 35K.

Retirement Buyouts.  The county offered employee buyouts this year.  The cost (15k?) was anticipated to be funded by the respective reduction in payroll costs as a result of the temporary vacancy.  Many of the vacant positions have been filled.  Some offices (Auditor) chose to re-distribute the workload and pay stipends vs hiring a new person.

    • Savings can be identified by the reduction in payroll costs from the prior year.
    • A report on the results of the strategy has not yet been published.

Salary Increases.   Departments can ask for higher grades and salaries.  They need to do this is no later than the June Council meeting. The County approved several increases for the Sheriff’s Department and the Court. When considering the increases, the “total costs” including benefits, retirement, social security, etc are often not identified. These costs do become a factor in the budget.

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding Spreadsheet. ARPA Spreadsheet

    • Covid Premium Pay – ARPA funds.  The county approved $700,000 for a $2.00 an hour increase for the “essential” county employees that worked with the public during Covid.  This will be paid out over 3 years.  These employees will not get the projected 3% cost of living increase during these years and would need a “9%” increase in year four to bring their salaries up to the respective current rate.  How will this be budgeted?
    • County Offices receiving ARPA and the 3%

Debt. The county also routinely maintains a debt (Increased from 2 million to 3 million to cover operating expenses and capital improvements (infrastructure) costs. The 3 million dollar loan was approved in 2021.

    • County loan priorities need under discussion By  Sara Clifford, 

      • The $3 million loan would replace a $2 million loan from 2018 which was to be paid off this summer. Biddle told the council that the new tax rate would be more than it is now, but slightly less than it was in 2020.
      • The tax rate was 0.0979 in 2020, 0.0797 in 2021, and is estimated to be 0.0969 in 2022 with the loan factored in, said Kaitlin Cheek who works for the county’s financial adviser Baker Tilly.

Capital Improvement (Asset) Management Plan.  The county does not publish a plan to cover needed capital improvements (infrastructure) costs.  Capital Improvements include maintenance, repairs, and replacements.  The county currently has 14 buildings. Consequently, expenses that could have been anticipated and budgeted come as a surprise during the year.  The council has identified the development of a plan as a priority for 2023.

Leases. A published plan is also needed for leases that would include technology. Total leased amounts can exceed a million. The Sheriff’s office has at least one 10-year lease at a cost of $500,000.

    • A rationale for  “No Plan.”   A plan identifies expected infrastructure repair and replacement costs.  An item could include parking lot paving, roofs, boilers, generators, air conditioning units, etc. For example, this year, over 500K was identified (a surprise to the council) as being needed to replace air conditioning units at the Jail.  When anticipated expenses can be ignored,  then funding can be spent on other favored initiatives such as additional healthcare-related benefits. For example, the Health Clinic benefit was expected to result in at least a 2-1 return on investment. This has yet to be achieved. No report on the status has been published.
      • Commissioner Pittman identified 40 million dollars in unfunded costs for roads and bridges. County roads with high traffic typically need re-paving on a 10-year basis.
      • Gas and excise taxes contribute to road and bridge maintenance.  Other funding sources are Community Crossing grants (up to a million a year?) and taxpayers. For example, on the 3 million dollar loan, the “hope” was that 1.6 million could be spent on roads.  What percent if any, is going to roads?

Grants and Risks. County also manages a variety of grants. The grants and amounts are not published but need to be managed. Failure can result in the county having to pay back the grant.

Convention Visitors Commission (CVC) Budget and the Brown County Music Center (BCMC).  Revenue from the innkeeper’s tax is expected to be around 1.2 million.  The mortgage (500K a year?) is paid through the Brown County Building Corp.  Profits can also be applied to the mortgage and other operating expenses. Any excess profits go to the Community Foundation (70%) and then the county (30%). The county received 54K in lieu of property taxes (which are not required on a government building).

In 2022, the county also provided a 239K subsidy. (GUEST OPINION_ What’s been happening with your county’s finances – Brown County Democrat,)

The BCMC also received about 2.7 million in federal grants.  In 2023, the Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB) receives $712,500. The CVB budget identifies $225,000 in salaries, 58,000 in rent, and 417,000 – for Other – which would include marketing.

    • Options?  Can more of the innkeeper’s tax revenue be used for the mortgage and operating expenses and would this lead to an increase in profits?  Could the Admin Agreement be changed so that 100% of the excess profits could be used by the county for roads and bridges?   On the CVB and marketing, Social Media has become the primary means for advertising. The CVB was created in 1984 when Print, direct mail, TV, and radio were among the advertising options.  Can the CVB be self-supporting? They own the visitors center. If not, what would be the minimum financial requirement?
    • The BCMC is managed by the Maple Leaf Management Group. The group includes one commissioner and one councilman.  Updates by these representatives have not been (but can be)  provided at commissioner and council meetings. These representatives are accountable to the voters.

Additional Information

IU –  SPEA MPA Students Reports – Brown County Government – Financial Decision Support

The God Debate

 Updated: Aug 24, 2022

the god debate

Variation is a natural part of creation. It can be defined as the gap between an ideal and an actual situation. An ideal situation represents a standard of perfection—or the highest standard of excellence. In a biblical worldview, God has defined the ideal and is the moral authority. In a secular worldview, “man” defines the ideal and determines what is right and wrong. Regardless of a belief in God, variation is a constant. ASQ: Law of Variation 

New Atheism. New Atheism advocates the view that superstition, religion and irrationalism should not simply be tolerated. Instead, they should be counteredcriticized, and challenged by rational argument, especially when they exert undue influence, such as in government, education, and politics.[3][4] Major figures include Richard DawkinsSam HarrisChristopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett—collectively known as the “Four Horsemen”, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, known as the “plus one horse-woman”.

On 6 November 2015, The New Republic published an article entitled, “Is the New Atheism dead?”[15] The atheist and evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson wrote, “The world appears to be tiring of the New Atheism movement.”[16] In 2017, PZ Myers who formerly considered himself a new atheist, publicly renounced the New Atheism movement.[17]

The book The Four Horsemen: The Conversation That Sparked an Atheist Revolution by Christopher HitchensRichard DawkinsSam HarrisDaniel C. Dennett, 2019.

Jordan Peterson vs Susan Blackmore • Do we need God to make sense of life?

    • Jordan Peterson – “Lives his life as though God exists” to the best of his ability – belief reinforced by how you act, not what you say.  He acknowledges that he is a religious man; Judeo-Christian worldview ethics has a significant influence on western culture
      • Archetype – a pattern of behavior grounded in biology – the behavior itself.
      • Critical of the new atheists, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet, and Richard Dawkins. They do not take it seriously enough, they do not contend with the great thinkers ( Nietzsche, Dostoevsky) …
      • The Judeo-Christian ethic-based systems work quite well … (24:57) predicated on the sovereignty of the individual in relationship to the state …that is fundamentally religious in its essence – predicated on honest speech – these are religious predicates …
      • Two definitions or aspects of religion – dogmatic  (Blackmore) or spiritual. (Dogmatic – Asserting or insisting upon ideas or principles, especially when unproven or unexamined, in an imperious or arrogant manner.)
    • Susan Blackmore – Christianity did not make sense to her …; religion a virus of the mind.  Virus — (mindset) –  on balance, the world would be better off without religion …. but religions have positive benefits, good qualities
      • Archetypes are a given. A Meme is that which is imitated or copied.
      • Applauds the majority (based on polls) of the country (England) are not religious
      • “Accept meaninglessness and ultimate emptiness of everything” as a way of life
        • (Nihilism – The doctrine that nothing actually exists or that existence or values are meaningless. Relentless negativity or cynicism suggesting an absence of values or beliefs.)
      • Peterson: “A miracle for you” — “… Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’sand to God the things that are God’s.” Mathew 22:21 ESV
      • Final Question: “Do we need God to Make Sense of Life?
        • Susan Blackmore: “Absolutely not.”
        • Jordan Peterson: “God (whatever you are following, the hierarchy of your values)) is what you use to make sense of life”

Christopher Hitchens vs. Dinesh D’Souza

Sam Harris vs William Craig

Jordan B Peterson & Sam Harris 

      • “I act as if there is a God” – Jordan Peterson
      • Sam Harris – Ethics deals with right and wrong: Religion with Good and Evil 14:25

Additional Information

Other than the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed is likely the most universally accepted and recognized statements of the Christian faith.

2022 School Referendum – Supporting Documentation

Updated Sep 16, 2022 

bc schools

Sep 14, 2022. Post shared on the Facebook group –  Brown County Matters.

    • The Process – School Referendum. The request of taxpayers is to provide over $15 million dollars over 8 years. The proposed referendum represents a “solution.” The economic times are a little different than they were when the previous referendum was passed in 2016.
    • There was little information provided to the public “prior” to the School Board’s approval in “July” that identified the scope and extent of the problem. The School’s website became available in “August” and provides a little more information but includes more generalities than specifics. The school had several years to develop a detailed analysis as to why revenue from a new referendum would be needed. This would include a thorough analysis of alternatives and trade-offs. The strategic plan and accomplishments would be another key input.
    •  A “solution-first” strategy leads to bias and an appeal to emotion when attempts are later made to justify the need. Needs typically identify why the respective missions cannot be accomplished vs comparison of tax rates with other districts. Enrollment has been trending down since around 2008. This decline reduces the need for staff and infrastructure. Reversing the decline in enrollment is probably not likely.
    • Information below includes the information made available to the public It also includes the information, e.g., spend plan, and number of referendums in Indiana, I requested from DLGF. Note in 2022, only 14 of 291 districts have requested a

Aug 11, 2022. Post shared on the Facebook group –  Brown County Matters

    • School Referendum – follow-up. I received the additional information from the State (DLGF) and Brown County Schools.
    • Spending Plan for the revenue expected from the new tax submitted to the State (DLGF): Estimated Annual Revenue: $1,892,512. Expenditures: Teacher salaries and benefits: $1,419,385 (93%); CRC: $157, 709; “NEW” Birth to 5 program: $157, 709. Operations Fund: $157,709.
    • The average property tax increase paid to the school corporation per year will increase by 33.91% for residences and 20.91% on business property.
    • Of the approximately 291 school districts in Indiana, only 8 are pursuing a referendum on the Nov 2022 ballot. A total of 14 districts pursued a referendum in 2022.
      o. Note on pay levels – for county employee salaries, the County Council and Sheriff’s Department developed studies to validate the appropriate amounts and shared them at public meetings. The studies included comparisons with other counties of our size and surrounding counties. I have not seen the equivalent studies and comparisons respective to local teacher salaries.

August 2022.  NEW – Schools website advocating for the Referendum 2022

      • Key Points:
        •  Spending Plan for the revenue expected from the new tax submitted and approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF): L
          • Estimated Annual Revenue: $1,892, 512. (over 8 years –$15,140,096.00).
          • Expenditures:
            • Teacher salaries and benefits: $1,419,385.
            • CRC: $157, 709;
            • “NEW” Birth to 5 program: $157, 709.
            • Operations Fund: $157,709.
        • The average property tax increase paid to the school corporation per year will increase by 33.91% for residences and 20.91% on business property. 
        • Of the approximately 291 school districts in Indiana, only 8 are pursuing a referendum on the Nov 2022 ballot. A total of 14 districts pursued a referendum in 2022 
        • Note on pay levels – for county employee salaries, the County Council and Sheriff’s Department developed studies to validate the appropriate amounts and shared them at public meetings. The studies included comparisons with other counties of our size and surrounding counties. I have not seen the equivalent studies and comparisons respective to local teacher salaries.

Background Information and Index – 2022 School Referendum – For the Record

Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) – Referendum Information

Referendums since 2009

November 2022 Elections – Brown County

May 31, June 7, and June 14, 2022. The superintendent’s presentation and justification for the referendum shared with the public and provided at the three information sessions . Referendum Community Meeting Slides.   (Ref: ‘We need your help’: Community meetings discuss referendum, future of school district By  Suzannah Couch, 

 

referendum question and tax rate

REFERENDUM SPENDING PLAN

Response to Request for Information  (RFI) provided by Superintendent Emily Tracy – Brown County Schools

Aug 10, 2022.  Email Response BC Schools Superintendant Emily Tracy for the information submitted to the School Board that supported their decision to approve the referendum.

Email Attachments:

Copies of the Handouts that were provided at the Information Sessions on June 14, 2022

    • This fall, Brown County Schools will ask voters to say “yes” to an operating referendum and to supporting the future of the school district.
    • But before any decisions are made, the school district wants to hear from parents, school staff and community members. 
    •