Questions: Candidates for Commissioner 2022

Updated May 19, 2022  2:40 pm

decision making

Ron Sanders defeated incumbent Diana Biddle in the 2022 Republican primary. His opponent in the General Election is Democrat candidate; Stephanie Kritzer and possibly an independent candidate (s).

Facebook Post at Brown County Matters.

  • ELECTION 2022: Brown County Commissioner District 2 candidates discuss roads, and priorities.
    • Stephanie Kritzer: “I believe that we want to have our young people coming back to Brown County and in order to do that we must provide good schools. We must add infrastructure for Wi-Fi and internet so that people can work from Brown County if they need to and that our students can get that. That’s one area that I think is very important. Of course, everyone is concerned about roads and I think we need to take a look at how we’re dispensing those funds and what else we can do to serve people of Brown County.”

May 11, 2022. ELECTION 2022: Incumbent commissioner defeated in primary by Ron Sanders, race set for fall by  Abigail Youmans  His campaign slogan was “Ronald A. Sanders: A candidate for all the people.”

    • Ron Sanders: Top priorities as detailed in advertisements are a “well-funded” sheriff department, and wellness checks on the elderly and at-risk youth.
    • Sanders is opposed to TIF — tax increment financing — with one of his first advertisements stating “keep the tax dollars for the people who paid them.”
    • One of his main platforms was he wants to sell the Brown County Music Center, saying that “people are not happy with it.” …. “Make millions on the sale and save millions on interest, put it on the tax roll and make millions more,” one of his ads states.
    • “Use money from the sale to fix roads and help fund the sheriff’s department and any other programs that need funding, pay on outstanding loans and save taxpayers’ money … We all have a stake in seeing Brown County succeed.”
Political Context

There are three primary special interest groups and advocacies in the county that influence spending, economics, and the culture:

  1. Development through expansion of sewers. This included areas such as Bean Blossom where a need has not been documented or requested by the majority of residents to be served.  Advocates are the leadership of the local Republican Party (realtors) and some of their elected and appointed officials.  (Note: Helmsburg and Lake Lemon area residents have identified a valid need and support expansion.)
    • Development can lead to “gentrification” where the more affluent displace those more at the low to moderate-income level.  This is more apparent with housing prices and the income trends that indicate that the trend of those with incomes over 50K is increasing and those under 50K are decreasing.
    • The Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) was developed to support a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom. This is no longer a viable option – service can be provided by the Helmsburg RSD.  Should the BCRSD be transitioned to an advisory committee?
  2. Tourism. 
  3. County Government Employees – Pay, benefits, working conditions. Includes school employees whose leadership has requested additional property taxes via referendums.
    1. School Referendums. 

Not Represented – The Golden Goose. The 80%+ of citizens who generate the taxable revenue that funds the county government through income and property taxes.  Should this group establish and fund its own Political Action Committee (PAC) in order to get adequate representation?

Additional Questions for Candidates

Wi-Fi, Broadband, Access to the internet.  What is the current coverage in the county? is there a plan (areas, dates) to expand coverage?

County Comprehensive Plan. The commissioners are responsible for the plan. The County’s 12-page comprehensive plan meets the “minimum” requirements required by the State to manage zoning. The plan should clearly identify what people want and do not want.  The current plan was deliberately designed to be general and vague. Good arguments can be made for or against a project. Final decisions can be determined by who you know. Will you support the development of a new plan and ensure that the desires of the citizens, and not just the special interests, will be represented?

Fix Roads.  What specifically will you do differently than what is currently being done?

Well-Funded Sheriffs Department

    • Apr/May 2022. Jail Costs. Over 700K of infrastructure costs for the Jail have also been identified and shared with the commissioners and county council.
      • In the past, the commissioners have refused to develop a capital improvement plan and budget. Recently, the Council under new leadership has reinforced the need for the county to develop a plan to identify priorities and a source of funding. Will you support the development of the plan and future refinements?

Wellness Checks. This is supported by TRIAD. What more is needed?

At-Risk YouthWhat is the problem? What are the current programs?

Sell the Brown County Music Center (BCMC)

There has been community opposition to a “government-owned and managed” music venue. This project was led by the tourism industry.  Despite assurance to the contrary, the Commissioners and County Council did not hold public meetings to solicit citizen input on the desirability of this venue.  Their only meetings were to vote to approve.

    • The Music Center cost over $12.5 million dollars. Revenue from the Innkeepers tax is the collateral.  What is the market value for this venue?  What if it can not be sold at a “profit”?   Note if sold at a loss, the Bank will still be collecting revenue from the innkeeper’s tax until their debt is eliminated.
    • Note: Gov Mitch Daniels sold the Indiana Toll Road (a government asset) and invested the money into roads.

Lower Debt and Taxes.  The county is on track to pay off the $3 million dollar loan that is being used to pay operational expenses (spending exceeded budget) and infrastructure costs. The county routinely renews this debt which maintains existing taxes as opposed to cutting them.  Should this practice of renewing a loan be continued?  What are the decision criteria?

  • BC Schools Referendums.  The tax increases are a result of these referendums that are set to expire. BC Schools have indicated its desire to initiate new referendums and maybe increase the tax rate.  Did/does the school’s justification and assessment of pros and cons justify continuing the tax (s)?

 Tax Increment Financing (TIF).  This is a Town of Nashville strategy. An increase in taxes as a result of development goes to Nashville and not the county. What is the county’s role if any, in approving or rejecting?  Is input from the Planning Office, Auditor, and Assessor required?

Additional Information 

County Comprehensive “Financial” Plan.   The Financial Plan, Annual Budget, and a Capital Improvement Plan and Budget (To be developed) provide the information needed to manage the county’s finances.

The critical weakness in financial planning is the lack of trend data on revenues and expenses. The county has focused on “one year at a time.”  New leadership on the council is looking at the longer-term estimates and projections.  Right now, the data presented in the Financial Plan is not linked to the accounting software.

MISC POSTS

May 9, 2022.  BC Refreshed – Facebook Post – Ron Sanders is not supported by the local Republican party leadership led by Mark Bowman and Robyn Bowman. Their teenage son serves as an intern (part-time, computer technician)  in the county government for a salary of $6,321.00 (Ref: Employee Compensation by Unit.)

    • Ron Sanders Ronald Sanders for commissioner, 812 988 8424, it’s just a few at the top of the party, they are just making their selves look bad, l want to fix the roads and lower our debt and taxes, isn’t that what the Republicans say they always want, l just want to serve all the people, not just a few at the top, a few at the top are just mad because I didn’t take the knee and I will not now just to win, if the people of this county want me as their Commissioner their little act of trying to hold on to power will be in vain, power to the people.

May 2, 2021. Mark Bowman response to a controversial post on the local Republican Party Facebook page.

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