Brown County Schools – Health Insurance

Aug 10, 2018, SUPERINTENDENT’S CORNER: Health care spending decreasing for school district By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist

  • When the school board and I first began working together in July of 2016,  one of the first areas of concern that we identified was the cost of health insurance benefits and the subsequent negative impact on our budget.
  • Before we made changes to our plan, our district had a massive deficit in the health insurance fund. We were in a situation where we had to make substantial lump sum payments to our “third-party administrator” (TPA) to catch up on bills that were due.
  • We have “lived” our new plan for just over one year. I am thrilled to share that the results have been extraordinarily positive. We have moved from a situation of paying annual lump sum payments totaling over a half a million dollars to pay the bills to a situation where we have a reserve of well over the same. This translates into a million-dollar impact in just one year.

Jan 9, 2018.  Healthy outlook: Community health clinic set to open on school property

  • All people — whether they’re associated with the school district or not — will be able to use the services at Brown County Health and Wellness Center through a membership arrangement, Brown County Schools Superintendent Laura Hammack said.
  • School district employees will have access to the clinic through their medical coverage, while the general public can pay for a membership to the clinic in what’s known as the direct-primary care model. Memberships are month to month and can be canceled at any time.

May 9, 2017SCHOOL NEWS: Health insurance costs; personnel changes

  • Brown County Schools employees and retirees will be paying more for health insurance next year.
  • In addition to the new premiums, the school board also approved a contract with Anthem for a Brown County Schools Health Benefit Trust. The trust will allow the school district to build up money to be used for emergency medical situations by raising premiums and school board contributions, Superintendent Laura Hammack said.
  • Previously, those types of emergency medical bills were paid for out of the general fund, which has a deficit of more than $1 million.
  • Premiums for a single person with a $1,000 deductible increase from $132.80 to $139.44, based on 18 pays. A single retiree with a $1,000 deductible will pay a $371.85 premium compared to $231.92 premium in May 2016 after VEBA Bridge Coverage.

Treasurer – Investment Policy and Examples of Reports

Brown Brown County Investment Policy

County Treasurers Monthly Report June 30, 2019

Brown County Treasurers Daily Balance as of June 30 2019

The amounts listed in the Treasurers reports identify funds that are obligated.

March 18, 2019. Brown County IN Comprehensive Financial Plan 2016-2021

Aug 8, 2019. Brown County Treasurer – Mary Smith – Facebook Post and comments on the status of investments

Septic Summit – Sewer and Septic Issues and Strategies

Aug 13, 2019. BCD.  GUEST OPINION: What you can learn at the county’s Septic Summit  By Clint Studabaker

CAUTION: A long post in response to the Guest Opinion article.   I highly recommend attendance at this educational event.  Given that approximately 90% of residences are on septic systems, education should be a recurring event in the county.   I think we all want a healthy and safe environment as well as leaders that can credibly define the scope and extent of a problem before forcing solutions. However ….

Mr. Studabaker references results from a NON-statistically based “survey” conducted in 2008 with more information gathered in 2009 and then used in the Vision 2020 “Plan.”  He then uses this non-statistically valid information to infer that there is a need and a “problem” that “could” present a health issue – an association that is misleading.  For instance, the past two Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) Board presidents stated publically that there was no evidence of a documented need e.g., failed septic systems, in the Bean Blossom area.  Another myth has been in regard to the quality of the water in Cordry and Sweetwater Lakes.  Water samples indicate that there is not a problem and the conservancy’s plan for managing septic systems is proving effective.

Note also the vision 2020 “plan” was a private-sector plan supported by the community foundation and the Brown County Partnership. The partnership was dissolved (2016?) due to lack of participation. The 2020 plan was not a county comprehensive plan that has to meet state requirements, requires public meetings, approval by the county commissioners and approval by the county council for any associated project funding.

Of SIGNIFICANT IMPORTANCE is that major changes are being made and proposed for wastewater treatment strategies (sewers and septics) in Brown County that will affect almost ALL residents to include those that are buying and selling homes. Great if you are a realtor, developer or in the septic system business. Not so great if you are at the low to moderate-income level and/or expect the least intrusion from your government.

Mr. Studabaker is at the forefront of the septic/sewer initiatives – he is a member and primary leader of the BCRSD Board that is proposing a wastewater treatment plant for Bean Blossom. He is also a member of the committee that worked on the proposed new septic ordinance and has written a grant proposal for a Wastewater Infrastructure Strategic Plan for the county.

The Bean Blossom sewer project is now projected to be in operation approximately 1-2 years over the initial projection and is likely over budget. The BCRSD has yet to acquire land and the latest strategy is/has been trying to acquire land (under threat of eminent domain) deeded to Parks and Recreation. Does the public support this idea?  Eminent domain is the tool that can that be used to acquire “private” land “IF” a project is considered to be an important public good. Nashville used eminent domain to acquire the land for their sewer plant.

I continue to be concerned over the lack of due diligence and transparency on the Bean Blossom sewer project. Due diligence includes defining the scope and extent of the problems before proposing solutions. On the issue of transparency, I had to submit a formal complaint with the State to obtain public records from the BCRSD board. I recently made a follow-up complaint with the public access counselor who is working on the issue which involves a simple request – a review of the list that contains the names of the customers. The BCRSD board also promised a website in June of 2018 that would be used to keep the citizens updated on the ongoing status of the project – the website has yet to be developed.

Proposed Septic System Ordinance.  A review of the proposed septic ordinance indicates that similar to the last two attempts, this revision should also be rejected by the public.

Mr. Studabaker has an impressive private sector resume. However, when you are using taxpayer dollars to fund projects, expectations and standards of performance are much higher in the public sector. Standards include transparency, comprehensive planning, due diligence, and earning the trust, respect, and confidence of the community.  Major mistakes in the private sector can lead to firings, lawsuits, and bankruptcies. Similar mistakes in the public sector often result in higher taxes, less revenue for projects with a valid need and a citizenry that lacks trust in local government.

I hope you can attend the education sessions on septic systems and will also stay informed on the sewer/septic issues. These issues will have a significant impact on our quality of life and the cost of living in Brown County.

Tim J. Clark
Co-Administrator Facebook Group – Brown County Matters

More Information – context and details



Collaboration and Conflict – County Sewer Boards

Letter submitted Aug 14, 2019, to the Brown County Democrat for the Aug 21, 2019 edition ‘Collaboration’ needed, not scapegoating.

The article by Sara Clifford published in the Aug 13, 2019 edition of the Democrat  “No resolution yet to Helmsburg sewer board questions” described a classic example of what can go wrong when the focus of a major project is not on what is best for the county.

Recently, the Helmsburg Regional Sewer District (RSD) had to increase rates to their customers to $92.50. This increase along with a plan from the Brown County RSD that initially ignored Helmsburg led to a situation that exacerbated tensions and contributed to the scapegoating of two members of the Helmsburg RSD.

The Helmsburg and Brown County RSDs submitted applications and recently received a grant for a regionalization study.  This grant provided through the Regionalization Assistance Program (RAP) provides a total of $30,000 that will result in a study that will help identify the best solutions for the region.  This is a needed and long overdue study and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.  Ethel Morgan, from Hometown Engineering LLC was selected to complete the study.

At their August 13, 2019 board meeting, the Brown County RSD identified that they have spent over $170,000 of the $270,000 provided by the county council. They have yet to acquire land and have supported and applied pressure that included the threat of eminent domain to acquire land deeded to Parks and Recreation. They also acknowledged significant delays with their Bean Blossom sewer project. The status of this project reinforces the problems that are created when you force a solution before you build community support by first identifying the scope and extent of the problems.

The Brown County RSD has applied for a Ready Community grant that may result in a $100,000 planning grant for a Wastewater Infrastructure Strategic Plan. If this grant is received, it may also help to identify the best wastewater treatment options for the county but only “if” the scope of this study includes validating the needs based on facts and not speculation, opinions, and anecdotes.

Benjamin Franklin remarked that “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Collaboration along with plans that identify the scope and extent of the problems leads to better solutions, less conflict, and more effective use of taxpayer money. Should elected officials direct a delay in any further expenditure of taxpayer funds until the RAP study is completed? Would a further delay on spending be warranted pending the status on the application and completion of the Wastewater Infrastructure Strategic Plan?

RAP Grant – Regionalization Study

Regional Assistance Program (RAP) – Regionalization Study

Ethel Morgan, owner of Hometown Engineering LLC was selected by the State to complete the regionalization study funded by the Regional Assistance Program (RAP).

Proposed Scope of Services BCRSD and Helmsburg RSD – Hometown Engineering LLC.

This study will not include recommendations.  At the  Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) board meeting on Aug 13, 2019,  Ethel introduced herself and highlighted some examples of the work she has completed.   One example was the project for New London in Howard County.

Note: The New London Preliminary Engineering Report (PER), was not written as a regionalization study.  It was written to identify options for the community to address the failing wastewater treatment plant.  The study that is being completed for the for BCRSD and Helmsburg RSD will have some of the same types of information, but will not necessarily have all the same information. The RAP grant is fairly new, and there have only been a handful of reports funded.  – Ethel Morgan – Hometown Engineering LLC

  • Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) for the New London WWTP,  Howard County, Indiana presented to: Howard County Commissioners and the Town of Russiaville.
    • New London PER_Part1
      • Sanitary sewers and a wastewater treatment plant were constructed in New London in 1995. At that time, the New London Conservancy District was established to own, operate and maintain the wastewater facilities. In 2013, the District was formally dissolved and the Town of Russiaville took over the ownership and operation of the utility.
      • The wastewater treatment plant in New London is reaching the end of its useful  life. The tankage is metal, and has started rusting. Holes in the tankage have recently been repaired. The walkway and handrails are unsafe, and some of the piping has rusted through. Many of the air diffusers are non-operational.
      • This report outlines, from an engineering perspective, the options for addressing these issues. Once the options are evaluated, a selected plan and associated budget that include pursuing funding from State Revolving Loan Program (SRF) and/or USDA Rural Development (RD) and a proposed project schedule are presented.
    • New London PER_Part2
    • New London PER_Part3_Part1
    • New London PER_Part3_Part2
    • New London PER_Part4_Part1
    • New London PER_Part4_Part2

The BCRSD and Helmsburg RSD both submitted applications.  More information – Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) – Bean Blossom Sewer Project — For the Record


Terms and Definitions

  • Allegation.  An assertion made with little or no proof.
  • Association Fallacy.  An association fallacy is an informal inductive fallacy of the hasty-generalization or red-herring type and which asserts, by irrelevant association and often by appeal to emotion, that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another. Two types of association fallacies are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association. (Wikipedia)
  • Fact . An event, item of information, or state of affairs existing, observed, or known to have happened, and which is confirmed or validated to such an extent that it is considered ‘reality.’
  • Imply. Imply to indicate or suggest without being explicitly stated; Inferred from circumstances; known indirectly.
  • Infer. To derive as a conclusion from facts or premises.
  • Evidence.
    • A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment: The broken window was evidence that a burglary had taken place. Scientists weigh the evidence for and against a hypothesis.
    • Something indicative; an outward sign: evidence of grief on a mourner’s face.
    • Law The documentary or oral statements and the material objects admissible as testimony in a court of law.
  • Hearsay. Unverified, unofficial information gained or acquired from another and not part of one’s direct knowledge.
  • Opinion. A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
  • Truth.  Conforming to fact or actuality;  A statement proven to be accepted or true.
  • Data are facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.
  • Assumption. A  thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
  • Speculation. Ideas or guesses about something that is not known.
  • Conjecture. Inference formed without proof or sufficient evidence.
  • Anecdotal.  Not necessarily true or reliable; based on personal accounts rather than facts or research.

Septic System Education

Aug 6. 2019. Letter  to the Editor – BCD :  Mark calendars for Septic  Summit in September By Clint Studabaker – Board Member, Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD)

  • The Septic Summit will be held Tuesday evening, Sept. 3, 2019, at the 4-H fairgrounds. The equipment show will be open from 5 to 6 p.m. The expert panel discussion and audience question-and-answer session will begin at 6 p.m. until about 8 p.m. 

Brown County citizen Brandy Russell shares her research on information to know about Septic Systems –  Do you know your Septic 2019_06_27 Author Bandy Russell

Aug 13, 2019. BCD GUEST OPINION: What you can learn at the county’s Septic Summit by Clint Studabaker

Aug 6, 2019. BCD, Letter: Mark calendars for Septic Summit in September by Clint Studabaker, member Brown County Regional Sewer District.

Aug 3, 2019.  BCD, GUEST OPINION: How much do you know about your septic system? By Kara Hammes.

  • Kara Hammes serves on the Area Plan Commission (APC) and the Parks and Rec Board
  • May 21, 2019. BCD. Meet the new Brown County Purdue Extension educators, Staff Reports.  Kara Hammes -Health and Human Services/Agriculture and Natural Resources.   Kara Hammes is the new Health and Human Sciences & Ag and Natural Resources Extension educator for Brown County.

  • Mar 19, 2019. A new agent has joined the Brown County Real Estate team – Kara Hammes
  • Aug  21, 2018. Septic ordinance committee expands, adds members By Sara Clifford
    • The applicants were Richard Hall, an attorney; Kara Hammes, who has a background in public health and is a licensed real estate agent; Randy Jones, a retired environmental health specialist from Henry County; Brad Williamson, who works in environmental management for the Indiana Department of Transportation and is a real estate agent; Russ Herndon, a member of the Brown County Area Plan Commission; and Clint Studabaker, a member of the Brown County Regional Sewer District board and retired environmental and civil engineer.
    • May 29, 2018. Town considering tax abatement for small business

      • Kara and Clint Hammes of Nashville approached the Nashville Redevelopment Commission and the Nashville Town Council in May to ask for the abatement. … Their plan is to raze the Barnyard Shoppes buildings at 185 S. Jefferson St. and replace them with a two-story, multi-use building. Their business plan includes having a rentable commercial kitchen for food entrepreneurs to share and an indoor play space for young children on the lower level, and office or residential space on the second level. … They plan to invest close to $500,000 in the new building.

Additional Information