Updated: Oct 24, 2022
What is Brown County’s “One Thing”?
The One Thing – The Secret of Life – City Slickers
- Curly: do you know what the secret of life is? Mitch: no what?
- Curly: This ( he holds up 1 finger) Mitch: Your finger?
- Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean s**t. Mitch: That’s great but, what’s the one thing?
- Curly: That’s what you’ve got to figure out.
“The One Thing” – Quality of Life? – Brown County is the most heavily forested county in the state. It includes hills, natural beauty – especially in the fall, two-lane roads, and only three stoplights. Our Quality of Life contributes to what attracts new residents and retains the old. It also attracts artists and visitors (tourists). The”One Thing:”
- Nashville? “… Nashville has identified its intent to be a “driver” of regional tourism.
- Brown County – Quality of Life?
- Most heavily forested county in the State, with beautiful scenery. Access to hundreds of miles of public trails (biking and hiking) within the county.
- Described as a “Bedroom Community” where residents choose to live here and retire here and where income is generated outside the county.
- Within a relatively short distance to larger communities (Columbus, Bloomington, Indianapolis) that offer amenities not available locally.
- Trends. Demand for land, homes, and commercial property serving the tourism industry contribute to an overall higher cost of living making the county unaffordable for many. A county income survey in 2016 identified that 53.1% of residents fall within the low to moderate income level.
- There has been a downward trend in the number of residents reporting income under $50,000 and an upward trend in the number of residents reporting income over $50,000. Overall, a downward trend in the number of residents filing returns.
- County Income Trends – State Tax Returns – 1999-2018
- County Population Projections
The vision for what county residents want and do not want should be captured in the County Comprehensive Plan that drives zoning and budgets. Zoning identifies the type of development desired that will be supported by residents (tax base.) The tax base supports budgets.
- In the case of Trails and Parks, the Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB) helps market these features to “tourists.”
Future updates to the Comprehensive Plan can be submitted by areas to accommodate any unique requirements. Areas could include: Nashville, Helmsburg, Bean Blossom, Lake Lemon, Cordrey/Sweetwater, Stone Head, etc. A “hamlet” supported plan was developed (not approved) in 1993. The default is a current 12-page plan that is purposely vague to allow almost any type of development.
- The county is funded primarily by income and property taxes. Tourism brings in about $12.1 million in taxable wages and $22.6 million in economic impact. The total taxable income from all residents – many if not most of whom derive their income from outside the county accounts for over $425 million in taxable income that is also used to pay property taxes. Non-residents who own second homes also contribute to residential property taxes albeit at a higher rate. (Ref: Brown County’s Economic Engine?)
Brown County’s Economic Engine? Excerpts – Andy Rogers:
- People say, ‘Well, we can’t change.’ But we can change and still retain some of the flavor of Brown County. We need people to live here. I’m in the tourist business but we don’t want to turn this town over to the tourists. You can go to Gatlinburg if you want to see what happens to a town that turns it all over to business. It’s not a town anymore—it’s a shopping center. We need people here. This town needs to be alive.”
- “We don’t need to be slick and highly commercial. We need to be more country. Country is what we sell…. We need to maintain that. Once you destroy that, it won’t come back.”
- Andy Rogers: Vision for Brown County and Nashville: “He stands at the center of Nashville’s dogged attempt to satisfy a tourist industry while retaining its soul—the thing that people have lost in their own communities, the reason they come to visit in the first place.”
Tourism commercial interests can dominate the narrative. The Convention Vistors Commission (CVC) – members appointed by commissioners and the council, oversee the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax (over a million a year). The County Council by law is responsible for reviewing and approving the CVC budget.
This revenue from the innkeepers’s tax can be spent on “anything” that promotes tourism. This included trails, parks, preservation, education, recreation, et.al.
The CVC contracts with the Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB) to spend the revenue from the innkeeper’s tax on promotions, salaries and benefits, visitors center, etc.