All posts by Tim J. Clark

Commission Meeting Notes, April 19, 2023; Indian Hill RR Crossing

Updated: Apr 20, 2022


Post at Brown County Matters

Audio – length  1:28:45.

Indian Hill RR Crossing.  Last topic on the agenda.  The audio of the discussion starts at 17:47. A very informative exchange of information.  

Presentation and Discussion. Scott Rudd (former Nashville Town manager, current county councilman) provided an excellent presentation reinforcing the case and the urgency for re-opening the crossing.

Copy of Scott’s Presentation: Commissioners Presentation Indian Hill Road

Bob Weddle (25:07) of Weddle Farms (7th generation farm) shared his story on the impact the closing has had on his farming operations including the safety risks and concerns. The family granted the original easement to the railroad.

Mike Moga: Barnes and Thornburg: 1:09:13. IC 8-6-7.7- 3.1. Commissioners can close a crossing but only INDOT has the power to re-open. County can petition INDOT and if INDOT agrees,  the RR has the right to appeal. Costs unknown. Initial cost estimates by the RR appear to be grossly overstated. Not clear on INDOTs support of the county to re-open.

Tim Clark -1:16:02 Legislative Support and Public Hearing. The supporting statute regarding the public hearing is IC 86-6.7-3.2a Section E. If an agreement is reached between the commissioners and the RR, no public hearing was required.

Representative Matt Pierce reinforced that the Legislature will support local decisions regarding the crossing and has initiated discussions with INDOT and the railroad.

Motion by Commissioners to Pursue a Petition to INDOT. Pittman and Braden voted Yes, Sanders No.  Commissions Sanders also supports re-opening and wants more information from INDOT. He wants to consider legal advice, costs, and risks. He suggested revisiting the issue in 2-weeks and inviting input from the public.


    • What if INDOT will not support re-opening?
    • What actions can the Legislature take to support the re-opening?
    • If INDOT does support and the railroad appeals, what is involved in this process? Could it include a lawsuit against INDOT and the County?
    • If INDOT and the County are successful in re-opening, what would be the costs?  Estimates have ranged from under $2,000 per statute and regulation to an estimate provided by the railroad of over 100K.
    • The railroad also suggested a “tunnel”  (who funds?) which is unnecessary for a crossing with no reported accidents – ever.  The tunnel option is likely nothing more than a delaying tactic to encourage the commissioners and citizens to abandon all hope.

County Council Meeting Notes – April 17, 2023

Agenda: County Council Meeting Agenda – Revised April 17, 2023

This post at Brown County Matters

Courthouse Additions – Funding Approved.  Council unanimously agreed with a change proposed by the commissioners allowing more of the ARPA funds to be used for the courthouse.

      •  $500,000 ARPA
      •  $130,000 ARPA         (Originally earmarked for a “Quality of Life” Project)
      •  $175,000 3M Loan   (Originally earmarked for Helmsburg Stormwater Project) (Leftover after project finished)
      • $136,000 3M Loan   (Originally earmarked for A/C replacement at Jail)
      • $50,000   3M Loan   (Originally earmarked for 911 and Sheriff Radios Update) (Leftover after project finished)
      • $35,000   3M Loan   (Originally earmarked for Siding on Senior Citizens Building)
      • $20,000   3M Loan   (Originally earmarked for Security Improvements)
      •  $15,000   3M Loan   (Originally earmarked for IT Tech) (Leftover after project finished)
      •  $1,061,000  Total
      • *The County Council needed to approve the change to the ARPA Plan to move the $130,000 “Quality of life” Project to the Courthouse funding.

Please let me know if there is anything else I need to do or provide.

County Wastewater Strategic  Plan – Phase 1. ($50.5 million). Matt Hanlon, a BCRSD board member appointed by the council, provided a brief overview of the strategy and results of the watershed study.  No substantive questions or discussion. The applications for funding via the Preliminary Engineering Reports (PER), were submitted by the April 1 deadline.

Public Hearings. The required public hearing may be scheduled in the early July timeframe.   The PERs were derived from the County Wastewater Strategic Plan and Watershed Study developed at a cost of over 100K provided through a grant and some county matching funds.

No Public Meeting. The BCRSD Board with the support of the Commissioners and Council determined that no public meetings would be held to present the plan to county citizens.  The video presentations and actual plans and study were determined to be sufficient.

Case Study. Review and Approvals. I’ve made initial contact with state and federal officials to obtain more information on their respective review and approval processes.  I plan on developing (and publishing) a case study that will include a rather extensive assessment with questions that I will share with the approving officials, their respective auditors, and on social media. I will also include the documentation and correspondence that I receive back from these agencies.  State and federal elected officials can also be helpful in navigating any issues with the respective bureaucracies. The public hearings can provide additional information as well.

The Process.  In developing proposals for major changes, there are two general approaches. In this case, appointed officials with funding from the county and state, identified what they believe to be the best options for the county with no public input. The required hearings are often considered just a formality.  This approach is less transparent, can be problematic, and can be fraught with more risk, suboptimization, conflict, and drama.

Failed project. A recent example of this approach was the project to develop a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom. The public hearing (which was contentious at times) was conducted in June 2018 with the expectation that approvals and construction would begin within 18 months. The Letters of Support included in the PER were from “1998.”  The project was canceled when land could not be acquired.

Collaborative Approach. In contrast, the aim of our system of government (local and national) is to work together to implement solutions that lead to “more perfect” outcomes where everyone benefits or at least, is not any worse off. This approach requires that you identify all the stakeholders (aka – We the People) affected by the change in the near, mid, and long-term, their respective needs, and the feedback they will need throughout the lifecycle of the project to assess if changes resulted in improvement. This helps to identify opportunities for improvement. Starting with these steps helps to identify the scope and extent of the problem (s) to be “solved,” the decision criteria, and the associated risks.  The outline of this approach is provided through the Brown County Leader Network.

I encourage everyone to review the videos and scan through the supporting documentation. Write down any questions you may have and present at the public hearings. Your questions (and responses) become part of the record.

A Successful Small Projectthe Courthouse Additions. At least two previous attempts were made to add a major addition and replace the courthouse with a Justice Center that was not supported by the community. Judge Wertz applied an incremental approach and obtained grants and some county funding to make needed renovations.  On the new courthouse additions (around a million), she obtained a grant for funding the plan, identified the critical priority (sally port) and a “good to have “(security entrance), and made her case at numerous commissioner and council meetings.  The trust she has built within the community was another advantage. I never heard anyone object or question the need for the project.  Both the council and commissioners worked to identify the needed funding.

2024 Budget.  Regarding increases in tax revenue from sources such as income and property taxes, the state applies a formula (a growth quotient) that determines how much additional revenue the county will have available in the 2024 budget process. The council can either accept or reject the resulting tax increase. In the past few years, the council has always voted to accept.  Background info – the 2023 Budget Hearings

BCRSD Meeting Notes Apr 11, 2023, 6:00 p.m.

BCRSD Meeting Notes, Apr 11, 2023.

This post at Brown County Matters

PERs – Applications for Funding. Helmsburg and the Brown County Regional Sewer District (RSD) Boards submitted their PERs on March 31. April 1 was the deadline. Link to copies of the PERs for Phase I

Approving Authorities.  It is expected that the approving authorities – State Revolving Fund (SRF) and Rural Development (USDA) would provide feedback. The documents would be updated with needed feedback in preparation for the required Public Hearing (Date TBD) I’m looking forward to seeing the quality of the review provided by the SRF and USDA.

SRF – Loan Approval Process

Next Joint Meeting with HRSD. Apr 25, 2023, 6:00 p.m. Brown County Community Foundation.

County Council Update?  The BCRSD requested to be added to the agenda for the Council meeting on Apr 17, 2023. The intent is to provide an update regarding the proposed solutions. (PERs).  The BCRSD board has refused to conduct a public meeting to defend what they identified as the scope and extent of the problem as identified in the County Wastewater Strategic Plan and Watershed Study that was developed at a cost of over $100K.  Note the Commissioners are responsible for policy – the council is responsible for the budget.

Resolution?  It was recommended that the county pass a resolution supporting the project. This would fall under the commissioner’s responsibility which implies that the commissioners are knowledgeable about the needs and scope of the project.

Sewer Expansion -Phase I PERs – $50.5 million

Updated May 24 2023   This post at Brown County Matters

Preliminary Engineering Reports (PER).  Identifies the information required to receive funding.

Brown County Wastewater Strategic Plan and Watershed Studythe “foundation”  for the PERs. Includes video presentations of the plan and study, respectively.  The Helmsburg PERs also available at the HRSD Facebook Page

    • The Watershed Study is in Appendix B

The Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) collects the wastewater. The Helmsburg RSD will expand its wastewater treatment plant to accommodate Phase 1 customers. The HRSD will have a second PER as a backup plan to make the needed repairs and upgrades to serve their current customer base if one or more sections of the Phase I project are not funded.

Phase I of expanding sewers includes a western corridor (Helmsburg to Lake Lemon and an Eastern Corridor – Helmsburg to Bean Blossom and Woodland Lake.


Complete Report – 315 pages  2023.3.31 Initial Submittal – Brown County RSD Preliminary Engineering Report

Report by Sections:

2023.3.31 Initial Submittal – Brown County RSD Preliminary Engineering Report

PER – Helmsburg RSD WWTP Expansion

PER – HRSD WWTP Replacement 2023_03_31

Commissioner Meeting Notes, Wed Apr 5, 2023

Commissioner Meeting Notes, Wed Apr 5, 2023. 2:00 p.m.   Audio of the meeting (1:13:06 minutes).  Question and Discussion on the Indian Hill RR Crossing at 1:07.

Meeting Agenda 2023_04_05

This post with any comments at the Facebook group – Brown County Matters.

Courthouse Additions – Sally Port and Security Entrance.   Commissioners, with the support of their financial advisor from Baker -Tilley, identified funds under their control to support these projects.  Council just needs to approve transfers between accounts.

Initially, the commissioners thought they would have to borrow money. The next option included using funds that needed the approval of the council. Given an estimated  1.4 million dollar shortfall in health benefit funding, the council suggested the commissioners find available funds in the accounts the commissioners controlled.  The overall situation identified the opportunity for improved financial management.  The Commissioners develop a Financial Plan and the Council manages the budget.

The county routinely has not provided a status on the budget during the year at a public meeting. This would include a review of planned vs actual costs to identify project fund balances and any issues. During the budget hearings, it was suggested that the council members be assigned accounts that they could monitor and update the council on the status. Jim Kemp has done this for the health benefit funds.

Indian Hill Railroad Crossing.  No current updates. Commissioners acknowledged that a public hearing was required. This has not been disputed by the county’s legal counsel.

Commissioners support opening up the crossing to pedestrians but not vehicles.  The highway superintendent is reviewing the adequacy of the “slab.”  that is used to cross the creek.  Estimates for changes to the crossing to current standards are estimated at 1.5 to 2 million.  See Audio: 1:07 – 1:11

Note:  Without a public hearing, the decision to close the crossing was not valid.  Consequently, the county can re-claim the right-of-way and allow for a pedestrian crossing. They could then hold a public hearing to help determine if the crossing should remain closed to vehicles.  There have been no facts presented regarding safety-related incidences at the crossing.

History on the closing: 3. Closure RR Xing, Indian Hill Rd: Public Hearings

Highway Department – Road Paving Plan – 2026.  The plan was developed last October and includes recent updates. It is not yet posted on the Highway Dept Website – Road Improvement Plan

Elkinsville Rd.  Commissioner Pittman drove the road and was complimentary of the work that has been done. Some of the paved sections in disrepair were replaced with gravel.

Legislation – Septic Systems and County Wastewater Strategy

Property owners could ‘supersede’ Indiana health officials over septic systems under House bill by Casey Smith, Indiana Capital Chronicle, Mar 29, 2023

Post of the article and comments at Brown County Matters

Wow. The county had similar issues raised last year regarding the new county septic ordinance that the commissioners passed 2 to 1. Biddle and Braden voted yes. Pittman was the no vote.
House Bill 1647 would grant Hoosier property owners the ability to override local health department decisions about new septic system installations and existing systems that have failed — as long as they have a paid consultant who agrees with them.” The proposed legislation also suggests that all county septic ordinances be voided.
The So what? The Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) can force sewer hookups and grant temporary waivers if a septic system passes “their” inspection. This legislation will allow homeowners to hire their own consultants to determine adequacy.
Soils? Nothing is mentioned in the proposed legislation that per the Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD, counties with inadequate soils like Brown County should have no septic systems. IDOH estimated that only 20% of the 1 million septic systems in the State could be inadequate.
The Brown County RSD has stated that county soils are not suitable for septic systems and speculated a failure rate of 76% to help justify a $50 million dollar sewer expansion to serve about 770 homes to be funded by the State, Feds, and customers. Per the BCRSD, this leaves another 7,300 systems in the county that need to be replaced by better systems approved by the BCRSD. And, what would be the price tag???
Agriculture Policy. And as a bonus, the BCRSD is taking the lead in eliminating e.coli due to farming/livestock management practices. Pastureland is the major cause of e.coli in the county and was identified as a major cause in other water quality studies within the state as well. (Ref: Brown County Wastewater Strategic Plan and Watershed Study
Question or Concern? Have a question or concern about the county strategy and study that was funded with over $100K of tax dollars? Just send the BCRSD an email or contact a board member who may tell you to send them an email: Board members are: Clint Studabaker (Project Lead), Richard Hall, Mike Leggins, Phil LBlanc, Matt Hanlon. With the support of elected officials, the BCRSD has refused to allow or support a public meeting to address the questions and concerns of citizens.

Joint Meeting Notes – HRSD and BCRSD Sewer Boards, Mar 28, 2023 – Status PERs

Joint Meeting Notes – HRSD and BCRSD Sewer Boards, Mar 28, 2023 – Status PERs

BCRSD Wastwater Strategic Plan and Watershed Study – video presentation and hard copies

 This post and comments at Brown County Matters

Audio of the meeting (1:04:16)

 Attendees. In addition to the Helmsburg and Brown County RSD boards, the meeting was attended by the President of the commissioners’ Jerry Pittman, President of the Council Gary Huett, Councilman Jim Kemp, and a member of the Gnawbone RSD Board. Attendees also included contractors, several people from the Lake Lemon area that support the expansion of sewers in their community, and at least one person from Bean Blossom and Helmsburg. RSD Board members are appointed by the council and commissioners.  Board members of the Gnawbone RSD are “elected” by their customers.

Preliminary Engineering Reports (PER). The PERs are the application for funding. They will be submitted to the State no later than this Saturday “April 1.” Copies will be made available to the public. Public hearings for the PERs are required and are to be conducted within 90 days.  The hearings are a “formality” but citizens can go on the record with their questions and statements in support or opposition. These statements can be shared with the approving officials at the state and federal levels and become part of the record.

Map that identifies the phase.

There are three PERs. The BCRSD PER is for collecting and transporting wastewater from an estimated 700 customers (Phase 1). Helmsburg has a PER to support this phase. Helmsburg also has a PER to support the needed repairs and replacements of their current plant to support their customer base of 68 customers and possibly 8 new customers. This project will be needed if the Phase I project is not funded.

Cost – $50.5 million (Phase 1). The revised estimated cost for “Phase I” is $50.5 million. The corridor to be initially served is from Lake Lemon to Bean Blossom and Woodland Lake (13-mile span). Future expansion will run north and south of this corridor.  Cost is $39 million for collection (BCRSD) and $11.5 million for processing (HRSD).

Brown County Wastewater Strategic Plan and Watershed Study.  Clint Studabaker of the BCRSD reinforced that the plan WILL NOT be presented at a public meeting. Video presentations are available on the BCRSD website and people can submit their questions to the BCRSD via email. The BCRSD board believes this is sufficient. Commissioner Pittman and Council members Huett and Kemp supported this position.  Kemp suggested a future consolidation of all the county RSD boards and that the overall function should be managed similarly to a water utility.  Kemp also suggested there was available office space at the Health Department for the management group.

Kemp as a former president of the RDC was also a vocal supporter of the failed attempt by the BCRSD to build a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom after spending about 200k. The BCRSD was unable to acquire land. The PER for the sewer plant was presented to the public in June 2018.

Kemp also led the development of a County Economic Development Strategic Plan that was approved for funding but not implementation.  Commissioners did not hold any public meetings to allow citizen input on the final plan.  I led the efforts to acquire funding for this plan and participated in about 8 public meetings throughout the county to get citizen input. I was not involved in the actual development of the plan by the contractor.

Quality of the Watershed. BCRSD board member Richard Hall reinforced his interest in improving the watershed. I referenced the contradiction in the strategic plan and water study. The strategic plan stated that the primary source of e.coli has been “humans.” However, the watershed study identifies “pastureland” as the main cause of e.coli.  Studabaker then shouted me down.  The watershed study identifies that if 100% of the septic systems in the county fail, the primary cause of e.coli would still be pastureland.  Of the 22 water samples, only 5 tested as being from humans and only two of these samples exceeded state standards.

It appears that Studabaker may be considering “agriculture” managed by “humans” in his definition of “human-caused.” If so, very creative as well as misleading and informative regarding motivation. This position supports his earlier comment at the Feb 14, 2023 BCRSD Board Meeting, that reducing e.coli from agriculture was also one of “his” goals. I contacted the project manager for the wastewater plan for clarification. Interesting that such an anti-agriculture position would be supported by elected officials.

County Redevelopment Commission (RDC). Councilman Kemp, who was also a former President/member of the County RDC  identified the task assigned to the RDC by the council to assess the impact and economic development potential for sewers.  Vicki Perry of RCAP mentioned that sewers did not necessarily lead to significant impacts in economic development but can sustain the current economic base.  Kemp did reference the connection of the wastewater strategic plan with the county comprehensive plan and zoning in support of economic development.

County Governance and Leadership.  The intent of the wastewater strategic plan is to sell a narrative that supports the expansion of sewers. The motivation for service in Bean Blossom supported the interests of a few for economic development.  This was “the priority” for the BCRSD documented in their PER submitted in June 2018.  When they failed to acquire land for a plant, they had to shift focus to include Helmsburg and Lake Lemon, This area does have a valid need as opposed to a justification based on speculation and conjecture.

The wastewater strategic plan WILL NOT  result in reducing the main causes of E. coli in our streams – pastureland.  The 50.5 million dollars estimated cost for “phase 1” is most likely the largest cost/investment in county history. There has been little to no interest by our elected officials in updating the County’s Comprehensive Plan to provide citizens with a voice on what they want and do not want in terms of economic development and quality of life.  Major decisions are made by the few and the centralization of power tends to be corrupting as well as addictive to those wielding this power.

The county comprehensive plan should clearly identify what citizens want and do not want in terms of quality of life and economic development. This plan supports zoning. There has been no interest in the county for any updates to the plan or any longer-term planning to anticipate future development trends be they positive or negative.   As it stands now, a good argument can be made for or against a specific project which creates the perception that approvals can be based on who you know.  Final decisions can also be determined by how many people show up to fight for their respective positions.

Courthouse Additions: Joint Meeting Commissioners and Council Mar 24, 2023, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Updated Mar 27, 2023

Joint Meeting Commissioners and Council Mar 24, 2023 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

This post at Brown County Matters

Purpose: Funding – Courthouse additions.

Good Meeting. An informative, productive, congenial, and at times humorous, meeting.  A wide variety of options and their pros and cons were discussed. (I wish this was more the norm on major investments like wastewater management/sewer expansions.)

Good Argument. Judge Wertz, the Sheriff, and the Baliff have made a good case for the additions with the priority for funding to be the Sally Port.  The Judge got a grant to fund the design/plan (70K). She has gotten other grants to fund the renovations.

Planning. The meeting reinforced the critical need for capital improvement planning and budgeting. This consists of identifying our assets (buildings) and the projected repair, replacement, and maintenance costs. Purpose is to prevent “surprise expenses” and budget the costs

Jim Kemp who has a finance background is also leading needed process improvements and longer-term planning that should help prevent future “fires.”   I am looking forward to the 2024 budget hearings that should reflect “lessons being learned.”

Courthouse Additions – Sally Port and Security Entrance.  Commissions may have the money to fund the project without the need for the council to approve.  In addition to the 500k that was budgeted, 254K can be used from the remaining balance in the capital improvement loan. Funds from the capital improvement loan may have been erroneously used to pay operating expenses associated with the ambulance contracts and may need to be reimbursed from other funds (300K or more).  If excess funds from existing accounts cannot be found, the commissioners will take out a loan.  The State Board of Accounts is providing a review of the capital improvement loan and expenditures.

Capital Improvement vs Operating Costs.

    • The council was aware that the commissioners were paying operating expenses with funds from the 3 million capital improvement loan. I questioned this practice and the former commissioners stated it was allowed. The county attorney was likely present on the phone.
    • Note the common practice at the time of the loan was for the commissioners to identify spending and the council operated under the principle that their job was to “approve” without question.  Consequently, any issues and lack of knowledge of the “total costs” in many cases led to “surprises.”

Courthouse Options. Everyone agreed the additions were needed. Previous major additions to the courthouse were rejected by the public via a remonstrance. The plan for a new “Justice Center” at 8-10 million was not well received.  Grant money was used to make some recent renovations and these new additions should meet the county’s needs in the foreseeable future.

Next Meeting. There will be a working meeting next Friday at 1:00 to work through the exact details and options regarding courthouse project funding. Council members, commissioners, the auditor, consultant from Baker-Tilly, and any interested members of the public.  A plan for how the county may be able to address the 1.3 million or more deficit in health benefits costs will also be discussed.

Project 46 Brown County Climate Change

project 46 climate

Updated Apr 6, 2023

Summary:  County elected officials are expected to join the Nashville Town Council and the mayors of Bloomington and Columbus in signing a  Resolution in support of the United Nations’ strategy for fighting climate change.

Apr 4, 2023.‘Opportunity to rebuild’: Local community leaders unveil climate change alliance

Mar 24, 2023,  Audio – Climate Change Presentations

The Resolution includes a pledge from the county to provide funding of 50 cents per capita or $7,500 for Brown County, per year over the next three years.

Per the presenters, although the county’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gases may be small, Brown County can be part of a regional and global (U.N) initiative to prevent “the catastrophic effects of global warming.”   U.N Report:

    • Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health ( very high confidence ). There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all (very high confidence ). ”  U.N Report
    • “Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C. ” U.N. Report

Among the benefits of the alliance are the expectations of federal funding for various projects.

Mar 24, 2023Project 46 – Southern Indiana Regional Climate Alliance Kick-off  Meeting- Nashville Town Hall (PDF of the announcement)  

United Nations Climate Change Report – Climate Changes 2023. © Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2023.

Mar 16, 2023. Opposing Perspective:  TUCKER CARLSON: Climate change experts’ bullying is not about helping the Earth, it is about controlling us.  Tucker shreds climate change ‘experts’ and their predictions, which have not held up well over time

Oct 6, 2022. Bloomington, IN.   First Regional Climate Convening Assembled To Discuss and Address Climate Change

County Council Meeting Notes – Mar 20, 2023. 6:00 – 9:00.

March 20, 2023 County Council Agenda

County Council Meeting Notes – Mar 20, 2023. 6:00 – 9:00.  A long meeting and unnecessarily contentious at times.  Council and commissioner recognized that a more amicable working relationship would be helpful.  Commissioners are the executives of the county and the council is responsible for managing the budget.

Capability. County finance and budgeting represent a system. The capability of a system can be assessed on a scale of 1-5.  The county system is about a 2 – “it works ” which includes  surprises and frustrations which can lead to contention. Little changes can be made to smooth things out.

Next Meeting – Friday March 24, 2023 6:00, Salmon Room.  Joint meeting of the council and commissioners to work through funding challenges and options that may include borrowing money.

Funding shortfall. Estimated deficit projected for June of -1, 350,145.00.  Jim Kemp completed an analysis on the state of the Health Fund. The recent changes to the benefit package prevented the deficit from being even higher. PDF – Kemp health fund deficit

A recurring problem. This (large deficit) happened a few years ago and the county borrowed an extra million to cover the over-budget operating expenses.  The ambulance contract was an example. The federal funding received over the past couple of years also helped pay for spending. The standing/recurring loan was increased from 2 to 3 million and the low interest on the loan kept the taxes about the same. Renewing the next loan will likely have a much higher interest rate and inflation will also have an impact leading to more cost for less service.

Courthouse Additions – Sally Port and Security Entrance. The commissioner’s financial consultant identified where $560,000 could be used from three accounts. This combined with the budgeted 500K would fund the projects. Gary Huett identified that it may be possible that design changes may help reduce the cost of construction.  A decision to approve the funding is needed by April 15.

Clerk’s Office. Info Technology Costs Increase. The clerk identified her need for more funding to support converting manual records to a digital format and transitioning to a new system. Council will create a committee to work through how these costs can be funded.

Operating Practices. The county has worked on a year-to-year basis in terms of budgeting. At least a 3-5 year plan is considered a better practice. The commissioners contract for a Financial Plan that typically is not referenced in meetings.  Updates on the planned costs vs actual can help prevent surprises and trends in revenue and expenses.

Anticipating Expenses. Significant expenses associated with health benefits, capital improvements, repairs, replacements, recurring leases, cars, IT, contracts, elections,, too often come as a surprise and can range in the hundreds of thousands. (AC units for the jail for example).  Many of these expenses can be expected and identified in a capital improvement plan and budget that fall under the responsibility of the commissioners.   Each department can also identify their unfunded requirements to help prevent surprises and identify these during the budget hearings.