All posts by Tim J. Clark

ROI — The “So What?” People with a Plan

ROI – Ready Schools: Initiative aims to align school districts to the education and workforce needs of employers and industry in the Indiana Uplands.

The Southwest Central Indiana Uplands Region – Brown county one of the 11 counties in the region,  is projected to have more good jobs than people.  (Our region does not include Bartholomew County where Columbus is considered a world-class manufacturing hub.)

The regional average wages range from a high of $85, 582 in the Information and Communications Technology Industry to $24, 477 in the Hospitality and Tourism industry. (Source 2015 Strategic Plan for SouthWest Central Indiana)

The ROI grants – Ready Schools and the recent $500K grant (Brown County Schools awarded ROI Ready Schools implementation grant) support our K-12 students (and adults through the CRC), to take advantage of the educational, training and career opportunities that will provide them with the capabilities that will help them to have productive careers.

The quality of our workforce can also attract small employers which can lead to an increase in the number of good job opportunities available within the county.  Encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship (designing, launching and running a new business ) provides even more opportunities for individuals to turn their ideas and dreams into economic opportunities.

The county has also recently received a planning grant to create an economic development strategic plan that provides the community with a plan.

A “plan” is a written account of the intended future course of action (scheme) aimed at achieving the specific goal (s) or objective (s) within a specific timeframe. It explains in detail what needs to be done, when, how, and by whom.

Brown County schools are working to ensure that all our students graduate with a “plan” for their future. The Career Resource Center (CRC) can help adults develop and execute their plan for improving their uniques capabilities and a “community with a plan ” can provide the inspiration and strategy that will contribute to Brown County remaining a desirable place to live, work, and play.

“The connection with enrollment trends and development strategies for attracting young families can’t be understated.  Without policy change related to affordable housing and daycare (ages birth – three), we will lose young families to more urban environments where access to these two non-negotiables is “easy.”  Laura Hammack, Brown County Schools Superintendent

Local Foods and Agriculture Tourism

 Brown County Greenhouse and Solarium Proposal

FYI – This project was proposed in support of Brown County 2020: A Vision for the Future, Community Report, April 2009: “…. promote art and culture; balance sustainable development with responsible stewardship; spur economic growth that respects our natural environment; provide enrichment opportunities; encourage healthy lifestyles; and promote activities that develop and support thriving, engaged residents and families. (Brown County 2020 – A Vision for the Future)

Agritourism 

Agritourism or agrotourism, as it is defined most broadly, involves any agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. More at Wikipedia

Local Foods

At a time when climate change is already affecting destinations and scientific research is under attack in many parts of the world, millions of travelers — lured by their love of local foods — help make agritourism a factor that tourism boards can’t ignore.

Comprehensive Plan for Brown County and Town of Nashville

The current County Comprehensive Plan approved in 2012.

Comprehensive Plan For Brown County and The Town of Nashville – developed in 1993 but not approved by the commissioners at the time.

 

Maple Leaf: Election Issues and Update

Summary of responses to my article published July 25, 2018. GUEST OPINION: Tim J. Clark. Maple Leaf: Will more money be a recurring theme?  
Talking Points

Non-Supporters: The “Talking Points” from non-supporters of the process used to fast-track this project can be characterized by three Cs: Crony capitalism, Corruption, and Contempt for the citizens:

  • Crony capitalism is an economy in which businesses thrive not as a result of risks they take, but rather as a return on money amassed through a nexus between a business class and the political class.”
  • Corruption is when a person’s conscience no longer registers right and wrong. – Pope Francis
  • Contempt for the citizens.  “If you have contempt for someone or something, you have no respect for them or think that they are unimportant.”

2018 and 2020 Elections. The ends do not justify the means. It was evident last June/July that the decision to approve Maple Leaf had already been made and citizens would only have a voice in the 2018 and 2020 elections. This observation led me to develop the Independent Voters of Brown County IN blog and Facebook Page.  

  • Brown County Matters is another Facebook Group that citizens can join that covers “Matters that Matter” to Brown County Citizens.

Acceptance or Rejection by the Community?  Just because a venue is built and “might be” successful, does not mean that it will be accepted by the community at large. The fast-track process for this government-owned music venue will always be part of the legacy.

  • The county is funded by income taxes and property taxes.  The revenue from the innkeeper’s tax can only be used to promote tourism.  An economic analysis by students from IU’s SPEA/MPA program identified that tourism-related wages are among the lowest in the state.

Maple Leaf Options – Are we  (county citizens) stuck with a government-owned music venue forever?  FOR SALE BY OWNER — ACCEPTING OFFERS   🙂

  • The venue can always be sold. The sales price would be determined by the success of the venue.
  • I would never want to see an attempt to transfer the debt on to taxpayers or use general funds to subsidize the venue in any way.
  • The president of the county council at the time – Dave Critser at the council meeting to approve funding, stated that in a worse case scenario, the county would allow for a default and a transfer of the asset to the bank.

Social Media – Voice of the Citizens

There can be many emerging issues (electronic sign for example) that can increase risk and lead to divisiveness and polarization within the county that can be expressed on social media. This can contribute to a reputation that Brown County is a place to be avoided.

Tourist Homes and Affordable Housing?

At the Area Plan Commission (APC) meeting on July 24, 2018, “Jane Gore, an Area Plan Commission member, asked the board to consider setting some sort of limits on the number of tourist homes allowed in the county out of concern that they’re crowding long-term residents out of affordable options.”  Ref: Brown County Democrat, Facebook post.

This concern is unlikely to be warranted. The advantages of the current policy for tourist homes outweigh the disadvantages of limiting their number.

Interesting that the benefits of the Maple Leaf and Big Woods/Hard Truth Hills developments include the expectation for bringing in more year-round tourism.  Why restrict opportunities for people to serve this market?

The  advantages of tourist homes:
  • They generate at least double the revenue in property taxes than what a full-time resident would pay
  • They collect the 5% innkeepers tax
  • They provide tourists with options
  • They provide competition to the hotels and other tourist home rentals
  • They generate revenue for owners – many of which reside in the county and want the freedom to determine their investment options without unnecessary government interference
  • They are generally the higher end homes – not in the “affordable” category for purchase or monthly rent
The disadvantages of tourist homes:
  •  Marginally less inventory of homes available for purchase by full or part-time residents.
Other
  • Limiting the supply of tourist homes will likely increase the value of the existing tourist homes
What is affordable?

In 2014, 52.51% of  Brown County residents filing state tax returns identified income at $30,000 or less.  With an income of $30K, Realtor.com estimates that an individual with an acceptable credit rating, with no monthly debt payment and no down payment, could afford a $131,200 home.  A monthly debt payment of $200.00 would reduce the affordable amount to $102,500.

The planning office keeps the inventory of tourist homes. There are approximately 300 tourist homes in the county which is less than 5% of the total number of the 8,400 residences.  (1)

Tourist homes in the county that have been listed for sale are generally at the higher end of the price scale e.g., not in the “affordable” category for purchase or rent.   A review of the sales and assessed value of the tourist homes would provide another source of information regarding affordability.

(1) For the county income survey that was conducted last year, the number of total residences surveyed was 8,400.  This included apartments.

Disclaimer:  I do not own nor am I interested in owning a tourist home. I am not associated with the tourism industry.