Commissioner Meeting Notes, Feb 15, 2023

we the people declaration and flag

Commissioner Meeting Notes, Feb 15, 2023.  Efficient meeting – about 30 minutes.

Audio of the meeting – 34 minutes. 

Courthouse Additions – Sally Port and Security Entrance.  Five bids were received.  The low bid was $1,060,277.  The county only received one bid previously at a total of $1.2 million. The county identified available funding at 500K and the commissioners had asked the council that a loan be taken out.  Stay tuned.

Music Center Future.  Ron Sanders raised the topic of holding public meetings to discuss selling the Music Center – an issue he identified in his campaign.  Commissioner Pittman and Auditor Reeves shared their opinions as to why selling the venue would not be a good idea.

Music Center – Administration. Commissioners Pittman is the new commissioner rep on the management board. He is following up on questions I asked regarding the Save-Your-Seat program and the Admin Agreement that allows non-elected officials to determine how revenue from a government-owned and operated facility will be spent.  No evidence has been presented that there was no vote by the commissioners or council to approve the Admin Agreement.

County Comprehensive Financial Plan.  Commissioners will be discussing the value of continuing to fund this plan at their next meeting.  The justification has been that it supports the county’s ability to borrow money at the lowest rates.  Other than the introduction of the updated plan, it has not been referenced as a useful product by the commissioners or council. An update was not used at the last year’s budget hearings.

Road Paving Costs.  The cost per mile has increased from 87K in 2016, 98K in 2018 to 152K in 2022 and 2023.

Road and Bridge Plans. Paving Plan. Road Improvement Plan (not updated with the 2026 plan briefed in Oct 2022) available at the following:  Additional information on the status of roads and bridges (does not include 2022 results yet, available at the following: LTAP Asset Management.

2023+ Topics of Interest2023 Topics of Interest County Govt

ChatGPT – AI Q&A – Variation

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Updated Feb 13, 2023 

Variation is a natural part of creation. Managing and reducing variation is fundamental to success in any aspect of life and at any level.  Although the frame of reference for this fact is relatively unknown outside the quality profession, good to see that some basics are known at Open AI/Chat GPT.   I asked some basic questions to establish a baseline and will be curious to see how the responses may evolve over time. One change was from stating that God created variability to “it depends.”

    • “ChatGPT is a conversational language model developed by OpenAI. It uses a deep learning architecture called Transformer to generate human-like text based on the input prompt it receives. The model is trained on a large corpus of text data, allowing it to generate responses to a wide range of topics with remarkable coherence and consistency. ChatGPT can be used in various applications such as chatbots, language translation, and text completion.”

ChatGPT – AI Q&A – “Citizenship “

 Human vs Artificial Intelligence (AI)

“Human” Response:- History and context (aka intel) on the relevance of the variation principle in improving quality in any aspect of life provided at the following:  SuccessThroughQuality

    • American Society for Quality (ASQ) – Law of variation:  The Law of Variation is defined as the difference between an ideal and an actual situation. Variation or variability is most often encountered as a change in data, expected outcomes, or slight changes in production quality. Variation usually occurs in four separate areas:  Special causes,
      Common causes, Tampering, Structural variation.

      • An ideal situation represents a standard of perfection—or the highest standard of excellence defined by stakeholders, including direct customers, internal customers, suppliers, society, and shareholders.
      • Though manufacturing groups and service providers strive for an ideal situation, they usually do not achieve this goal. Therefore, stakeholders almost always experience some variation from the perfect situations they envision. Reducing the variation stakeholders’ experience is the key to quality and continuous improvement.

The ChatGPT AI — Response 

Questions Asked/Answered on Feb 10, 2023.

Is increasing variation a good thing? 

    • Whether increasing variation is a good thing depends on the context and what you mean by “variation.” In some cases, increased variation can lead to positive outcomes such as increased creativity, adaptability, and innovation. For example, in biology, genetic variation is essential for evolution and the survival of species in changing environments. In business, offering a wide range of products or services can attract a diverse customer base and lead to growth.
    • However, in other cases, too much variation can lead to confusion, inefficiency, or decreased quality. For example, in manufacturing, excessive variation in a production process can lead to inconsistent products that do not meet customer expectations. In a classroom setting, too much variation in teaching methods can make it difficult for students to understand and retain information.
    • In general, there is a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of variation, and it’s important to consider the specific context and goals when determining whether increasing variation is a good thing.


What is the definition of variation?

    • Variation refers to the differences or changes in characteristics, qualities, or features of something. The term is used to describe the spread or diversity of a set of data points, individuals, or objects. Variation can refer to differences in traits, measurements, performance, or any other aspect of an entity that can change or vary.
    • In biology, variation refers to differences in physical or behavioral characteristics among individuals within a species, which can result from genetic differences or environmental influences. In statistics, variation is used to describe the dispersion of a set of data points around their average or mean value, and is often measured using statistical concepts such as the standard deviation or range. In engineering and quality control, variation refers to differences in a product or process from its intended design, which can impact its performance or function.

Questions Asked/Answered Feb 7, 2023

What is variation and why is it relevant?

Variation refers to the differences or deviations within a set of data or observations. It is a fundamental concept in statistics and is relevant in many fields because it helps to understand the spread and distribution of data. Variation is important for determining the range, standard deviation, and variance of a set of data, which provide insights into the degree of dispersion or spread of the data and help to identify patterns, outliers, and trends. Additionally, understanding variation is critical for making inferences and predictions, testing hypotheses, and making decisions based on data.

Why should variation be reduced?

Reducing variation in a manufacturing or production process is important for several reasons:

  1. Improved quality: By reducing variation, products are more likely to meet customer specifications and expectations, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  2. Increased efficiency: When variation is reduced, processes become more predictable, allowing for more efficient use of resources and improved production schedules.
  3. Lower costs: Variation often results in waste and inefficiencies, which can increase costs. Reducing variation helps to minimize waste, reduce defects and lower the cost of production.
  4. Better decision making: With reduced variation, it becomes easier to identify the root causes of problems and make informed decisions to improve processes.

In summary, reducing variation leads to improved quality, increased efficiency, lower costs, and better decision making, making it a key objective in many manufacturing and production processes.

Should variation be reduced in other areas other than manufacturing?

Yes, reducing variation can be important in other areas as well, not just in manufacturing. For example:

  1. Healthcare: By reducing variation in medical treatments, healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of medical errors.
  2. Service industries: In service industries such as hospitality and customer service, reducing variation in processes can result in improved customer satisfaction and repeat business.
  3. Information technology: In IT, reducing variation in software development processes can result in higher quality software and faster time-to-market.
  4. Finance: In finance, reducing variation in investment portfolios can lead to more consistent returns and lower risk.
  5. In general, reducing variation can help organizations to achieve their goals more consistently, with fewer errors and inefficiencies, making it a valuable objective in many different industries and areas of work.

Should variation be reduced by individuals to improve their quality of life?

Yes, reducing variation can be beneficial for individuals as well to improve the quality of their life. Here are some ways in which reducing variation can help:

  1. Better time management: By reducing variation in daily routines, individuals can manage their time more effectively and avoid feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks.
  2. Improved health: By reducing variation in eating habits and physical activity, individuals can improve their overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
  3. More consistent sleep: By reducing variation in sleep habits, individuals can improve the quality and duration of their sleep, leading to better physical and mental health.
  4. Increased productivity: By reducing variation in work habits and routines, individuals can be more productive and accomplish more in less time.

In summary, reducing variation can lead to improved health, better time management, increased productivity and a better quality of life for individuals.

Why did W. Edwards Deming conclude that improvement all has to do with reducing variation?

W. Edwards Deming believed that reducing variation was key to improving quality because it leads to a more predictable and consistent process. He argued that reducing variability in a process would minimize the number of defects and reduce the cost of quality, which in turn would lead to increased customer satisfaction and lower costs for the company.

Deming also stressed that reducing variation required a systemic approach, involving both management and workers, and that it was not just a matter of tightening tolerances or improving inspection methods. Instead, it was about understanding the root causes of variation and making changes to the process to eliminate them. Deming’s emphasis on reducing variation was a central component of his total quality management philosophy, which aimed to improve organizational performance by involving all members of the organization in continuous quality improvement efforts.

What is the Taguchi Loss Function?

The Taguchi Loss Function is a statistical method developed by Genichi Taguchi, which quantifies the loss or cost that occurs as a result of quality control problems in a production process. It is expressed as a function of the difference between the target value and the actual value, with a penalty term applied to larger deviations. The Taguchi Loss Function is used to evaluate the impact of design or process changes on the overall quality of a product, and to optimize quality control parameters in a production process.

Additional questions: Asked/Answered Dec 7. 2022

Who was Walter A Shewhart? Walter A. Shewhart was an American physicist and statistician who is credited with developing the field of statistical process control (SPC), which is used to identify and correct problems in manufacturing and other processes. Shewhart was also the first to apply statistical methods to the study of industrial processes. He is also considered to be one of the early pioneers of the quality movement, as his work on SPC was the foundation for the development of the modern Total Quality Management (TQM) system.

Who was  W. Edwards Deming?  W. Edwards Deming was an American statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and consultant, who was widely credited with helping to improve industrial production in the United States and Japan after World War II. He is also known for his work in the fields of quality control and total quality management.

What is the relationship between metanoia and quality? Metanoia is the process of changing one’s mind, attitude, or behavior and is often associated with spiritual growth and transformation. Quality is the degree of excellence that a product or service meets. The relationship between metanoia and quality is that through the process of metanoia, one’s attitude, behavior, and decision-making can all be improved, which in turn can lead to higher quality products or services being created.

    • Note: In the first edition of his book: The New Economics, Deming referenced the term “metanoia.”.  “The word metanoia is more suitable than transformation. Metanoia is a Greek word which means penitence, repentance, reorientation of one’s way of life, spiritual conversion (emphasis mine).”  (Deming, The New Economic, first edition, p 95).
      Deming died in 1993.  Later editions of The New Economics  replaced the term metanoia with “The First Step.”

Who is God? The concept of God is highly dependent on one’s cultural, philosophical, and religious background.

    • For many people, God is a supreme being who created and governs the universe. They believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, and that God has a plan for the world and for each individual. Some view God as a personal deity who interacts with the world and with people, while others see God as an impersonal force that governs the universe.
    • In many monotheistic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, God is considered to be the one true God, the creator of the universe and the source of all morality and goodness. In these traditions, God is often described as loving, just, and merciful.
    • In some polytheistic religions, such as Hinduism and ancient Greek religion, there are many gods and goddesses, each with their own areas of responsibility and influence.
    • In some philosophical and spiritual traditions, the concept of God is more abstract, and may be seen as a force or a higher power that transcends the physical world.
    • Ultimately, the concept of God is a deeply personal one, and each individual’s understanding of God is shaped by their own experiences and beliefs.

Did God create variability? Yes, God did create variability. God created a wide variety of plants and animals with different characteristics and capabilities, which makes up the variability that exists in nature. He also gave humans the ability to observe and study these differences, learning more about the world around them. (Asked on Dec 7, 2022)

Did God create variability? Whether or not God created variability is a matter of interpretation and belief, and it depends on one’s religious and philosophical views ….  (Asked Feb 9, 2023).

    • Did God create the universe?  The question of whether God created the universe is a philosophical and religious one that has been debated by scholars and theologians for centuries.
      • In many religious traditions, God is seen as the creator of the universe and all that is in it. This belief is based on scriptural accounts and religious teachings, and it is considered a matter of faith.
      • However, from a scientific perspective, there is no empirical evidence that supports the idea that a deity created the universe. The scientific understanding of the universe’s origins is based on observations and experiments, and the most widely accepted explanation for the universe’s origins is the Big Bang theory.
      • The relationship between science and religion is a complex one, and for many people, there is no conflict between the two. They believe that science can help us understand the natural world, while religion provides a framework for understanding our place in the world and our relationship to a higher power.
    • What are Judeo-Christian principles? Judeo-Christian principles are the basic moral and ethical principles derived from the teachings of both Judaism and Christianity. These principles include the belief in one God, the importance of living a moral life, and the idea of treating others with love and respect. Other Judeo-Christian principles include the value of prayer, the importance of family, and the idea of justice and mercy.

What is variation? Variation is a concept in biology that refers to the differences between individuals of the same species, such as differences in physical traits or behavior. Variation can help a species adapt to its environment, as some individuals may be better suited to certain situations than others. Variation can also refer to the differences in traits between populations of a species, as well as the differences between different species.

What is variability? Variability is the extent to which a data set, population, or process is subject to change. It is a measure of the spread of values within a dataset and indicates how much the values within a dataset differ from each other. Variability is typically measured using metrics such as the range, variance, and standard deviation.

Why do everyone and everything vary? Everything and everyone varies because of the combination of nature and nurture. Nature includes genetic factors such as physical traits and personality, while nurture involves environmental factors such as upbringing, culture, and experiences. These two factors combine to shape who we are and how we act, resulting in a vast variety of people and things.

What is the Taguchi loss function? The Taguchi Loss Function is an approach to measuring the quality of a product or service. It is based on the idea that any production process has a natural variation that affects the quality of the final product. The Taguchi Loss Function calculates the amount of lost value from an ideal production process due to this variation. It takes into account factors such as the customer’s desired performance level, the cost of achieving that level, and the amount of variation in the process. This approach is widely used in quality management and engineering to optimize the process and reduce variation.

Why do all people and things vary? All people and things vary because of differences in genetics, environment, and experience. Each person and thing is unique, due to the combination of these three factors that make up who or what it is. Variations are also caused by changes in external conditions, such as climate, geography, or culture. All of these factors influence the way people and things develop over time, resulting in different traits and characteristics.

What is common and special cause variation? Common cause variation is a variation that is caused by a systemic issue that affects all parts of a process. Special cause variation is a variation that is caused by an abnormal or unusual event, such as a machine breakdown or an operator error.

What is chance and assignable cause variation? Chance and assignable cause variation are two types of variation found in a process. Chance variation is caused by unpredictable factors and is usually consistent within a process. Assignable cause variation is caused by specific factors and is usually inconsistent within a process.

Note: The terms chance and assignable were developed by Walter A. Shewhart. Deming changed the terms to common and special.

What is tampering relative to variation? Tampering is the intentional manipulation of data in order to alter the results of a study or experiment. This is done to make the results appear to be different than what is actually occurring. Variation is the variation in a group of measurements or observations, which can be caused by different factors such as random error, sampling, or systematic bias. Tampering with data is a form of variation that is not natural and can significantly skew the results of a study or experiment.

What is homogenous data?  Homogenous data is data that is composed of similar elements or has the same characteristics. It is data that is uniform in composition, structure, and characteristics.

ChatGPT – AI Q&A – Citizenship

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Updated: Feb 7, 2023

“ChatGPT is a conversational language model developed by OpenAI. It uses a deep learning architecture called Transformer to generate human-like text based on the input prompt it receives. The model is trained on a large corpus of text data, allowing it to generate responses to a wide range of topics with remarkable coherence and consistency. ChatGPT can be used in various applications such as chatbots, language translation, and text completion.”

Other Chats: ChatGPT – AI Q&A – “Variation”

What are the responsibilities of citizens in the United States?

Citizens of the United States have several responsibilities, including:

1. Obeying federal, state, and local laws
2. Paying taxes
3. Serving on juries
4. Voting in elections
5. Respecting the rights of others
6. Defending the country if needed
7. Participating in the democratic process
8. Keeping informed about public issues and actively participating in the community.
It’s important to note that these responsibilities are not exhaustive and may vary depending on individual states or local jurisdictions.

What should citizens in the United States do to support actions that result in a more perfect union?

Citizens in the United States can support actions that result in a more perfect union by:

1. Participating in the democratic process, including voting in elections and contacting elected officials.
2. Educating themselves about public issues and policies.
3. Engaging in respectful and civil discourse with others, even when they have different opinions.
4. Volunteering in their communities and supporting organizations that work towards positive social change.
5. Promoting equality and justice for all people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other factors.
6. Protecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
7. Encouraging others to become active and engaged citizens.

Ultimately, supporting a more perfect union requires active and informed participation by citizens in the democratic process and a commitment to working towards a more just and equitable society.

How do citizens in the United States determine when legislative change results in improvement?

Citizens in the United States determine when legislative change results in improvement by:

1. Assessing the effects of the legislation on specific issues or populations, such as public health, economic growth, or social equality.
2. Gathering information from multiple sources, including government agencies, media, and independent organizations.
3. Engaging in open and honest discussions with others, including those who have different perspectives and experiences.
4. Monitoring changes in key indicators, such as crime rates, poverty levels, and access to services.
5. Evaluating the impact of the legislation against previously established goals and objectives.
6. Examining the effects of the legislation on marginalized or vulnerable groups.
7. Keeping informed about the implementation of the legislation and any unintended consequences that may arise.

It’s important to note that the impact of legislative change can be complex and may take time to fully understand. Different citizens may also have different assessments of the same change, and the impact of legislation can vary depending on the specific context and location. Nevertheless, gathering information, considering multiple perspectives, and monitoring the effects of changes over time can help citizens make informed judgments about whether legislative changes are resulting in improvement.

Commissioner Meeting Notes Feb 1, 2023. 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Commissioner Meeting Notes Feb 1, 2023. 2:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Agenda 2.1.2023

Topics of interest

Fire Protection and VFDs

vfd brown county volunteer fire department

Updated Feb 1, 2023

Jan 31, 2023. BCD. 11-year veteran of BCVFD named as chief; Volunteers, other resources needed, 40% of calls in 2022 lacked response by Corbin Parmer

A challenging issue regarding responsibilities – Town, County, Townships, Residents. The County Comprehensive and Financial Plans do not address the potential of funding a full-time staff for one (or more?) VFDs.

Our county population is projected to decrease but there has been growth in tourism-related establishments. The county has to routinely borrow money (3 million last time) to cover infrastructure and operating expenses. So far this year, an additional and projected $700K shortfall (courthouse additions) has been identified.
The county does not publish a capital improvement plan and budget and “surprise” needs for new infrastructure spending have been a predictable occurrence. Increases in health benefit costs have also been a recurring challenge.
By SARA CLIFFORD AND SUZANNAH COUCH | The Democrat Around 20 volunteer firefighters from three departments responded to the Carmel Corn Cottage on Sept. 16…
June 29, 2017.  Nashville Firefighters still seeking help, funding by  Two weeks after resuming medical first-responder service, Nashville’s fire chief announced that the all-volunteer station is in trouble again. The Brown County (Nashville) Volunteer Fire…
    • Last month, the Washington Township Advisory Board approved a 3-cent-per-$100 tax increase on township residents to help pay for equipment. It starts in 2018.

July 21, 2016. BCD.    Washington Township property owners are in the Brown County Fire Protection District, along with Van Buren and Jackson townships. The district costs them no extra…

    • Sometime this fall, the Washington Township trustee and advisory board plan to ask the Brown County Commissioners to let their township out of the fire district.

    • Washington Township would then be free to join the Nashville Town Council in forming a new fire protection territory.

    • Property owners in that territory would be charged a new fire tax, estimated at 8 to 10 cents per $100 of assessed property value, or $80 to $100 per year on a $100,000 property.

    • It would pay for the salaries of up to five firefighters at the Nashville station Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as station operating expenses. … They would be the first paid firefighters in Brown County.


July 13, 2016. BCD Q&A: Should Washington Township and funded by property taxpayers in those areas: establish a new fire protection territory? By Sara Clifford … Questions asked at the July 7 Nashville Town Council-Washington Township Advisory Board joint meeting about forming a new fire protection territory, funded by property taxpayers in those areas:

Feb 24, 2016. BCD. All-volunteer fire force: Still feasible? by Most of the county’s six volunteer fire departments have a list of items they need to acquire during the next few years. On nearly everyone’s…

Joint RSD Meeting Notes, Jan 24, 2023 – Helmsburg and Brown County Regional Sewer Districts (RSDs)

Joint RSD Meeting  Notes Jan 24, 2023 – Helmsburg and Brown County Regional Sewer Districts (RSDs) Posted at Brown County Matters

  • Future meetings: BCRSD – Feb 14, HRSD – Feb 1, Joint – Feb 28
  • Draft Map and phased approach to the expansion of sewers for an estimated $30 million (plus) investment. The BCRSD board members believe that the public is not entitled to review the draft. The state public access counselor will make a determination.
  • Deliverables – April 1, 2023. This is the target date for both boards to have a completed Preliminary Engineering Report (PERs). These should include the “final” map (s) of the areas to be served. Both boards believe they can meet this target. The PERs are required in order to get funding. Once/if funding is secured for the proposed projects, rates can be estimated. Obtaining easements will be needed prior to any construction.
  • BCRSD – Lack of a customer (citizen) focus. The BCRSD has been consistent in developing a solution (PER) and then informing the customers of their decisions after the fact. This was the approach taken in June 2018 when they introduced the PER in their failed efforts to build a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom. They were granted over $270K from the county in support of this initiative. They received another $300K from the county to support the current project.
  • Risks. In the Bean Blossom area, residents will need to grant over 190 easements. The BCRSD was unable to acquire land for a new sewer plant in Bean Blossom and residents may push back on granting easements. The “need” in the Bean Blossom area has included the desire for development. There is no documented evidence of failing systems that would support the significant investment in the Bean Blossom area. The two previous BCRSD board presidents resigned over the issue of not validating a need and getting customer buy-in. The EPA has identified that conventional septic systems are designed to operate indefinitely if properly maintained.
  • Helmsburg Projects. Unlike the Bean Blossom area, the Helmsburg, Trevlac, and Lake Lemon areas do have a documented need and community support.
  • County Wastewater Strategy – Responsibility and Accountability. The BCRSD has decided not to hold public meetings yet on the results of “their” county-wide wastewater strategic plan and water quality study. This public meeting was to allow for questions on the scope of the solutions and the analysis of needs. Commissioners and the Council appoint members to the RSD boards, provide money, and also have a responsibility to hold public meetings to ensure citizens are aware of the scope, status, and risk of initiatives.
  • The County Comprehensive Plan should represent the “voice of the citizens”  to include what residents want and do not want in terms of a wastewater strategy. This plan or updates to this plan requires resident input at public hearings. This allows citizens to voice their concerns regarding need, affordability, and support or lack thereof to their “elected” officials as opposed to “appointed” officials. Elected officials can delegate accountability but not their responsibility. Voters have a responsibility to hold elected officials accountable.
  • The So what?  When you are adding costs to hundreds of citizens to include monthly fees (and other start-up costs?) for a service that may not be needed by all,  it may not be well-received which increases project risks.

Commissioner Meeting Notes Jan 18, 2023

2023_01_10 Concept Walk Through - Brown County Leader Network

Notes from Jan 17, 2023. County Council Meeting. — See context and areas of interest in 2023.

On the 2023 approved budget, in order to balance the budget, revenue and expenses are “always” understated and there are always surprise expenses – generally in infrastructure and leases.  Things get “worked-out” during the year.  What’s new this year is that the county is already short by over 700K (maybe more or less) in order to build the needed courthouse renovations.

Commissioner meeting notes – Jan 4 and Jan 19Audio of the meeting

First Commissioner Meeting Jan 4, 2023.  The meeting was not advertised or posted per state law due to miscommunication and turnover.  Votes taken at the meeting had to be redone.   This took less than 9 minutes:

    • Election of officers: Jerry Pittman President, Chuck Braden, VP.
    • Board Appointments: Derrik Clifford to CVC, Sandy Higgins to Helmsburge RSD. (No master list posted on the county website listing all positions and appointments).
    • No Money. Courthouse additions are being re-bid – and are due Feb 15, 2023.   The bid amount exceeded available funds by around 700K.  Commissioners asked the Council to borrow the money. Council required a re-bid. Given the potential for a funding shortfall, NO SPENDING FREEZE pending a budget analysis was been proposed by the commissioners. Results from a review of the status of available funds were not discussed.
      • Note: Councilman Dave Redding has started a review on the status of the funds obtained from the 3 million dollar recurring loan and funds received from the Feds via ARPA.

New Spending – Capital Improvements.  There is no published capital improvement plan or budget. 

    • Courthouse Additions. The one bid identified the following: Sally Port: $803, 996;  Public Entrance with security: $404,913.00.).  “Available county funds of 500K were identified.
    • $20K for a plan for a bicycle/pedestrian trail for Nashville; 20K to be provided by the state. No contribution from Nashville.  The cost to execute a plan will likely be over a million dollars.
    • Health Department Building. Renovations of under $50K were approved. 50K the limit for not being required to advertise for additional bids.
      • Note this “building” was purchased for 400K for community corrections. No plan as to what additional costs could be expected.
    • Coroners Building. Plans are being reviewed by Nashville. A contract to construct a new metal building was identified at $135K – the need to advertise for bids not mentioned. The county attorney had no comments.

Jan 18, 2023. Meeting Notes

    • Highway Department Superintendent.  Bids received for projects supported by the  $1 million Community Crossing Grant.  Bids to be reviewed and contracts to be awarded at the next commissioner meeting.
    • The Road Paving Plan going out to 2026 was briefed at the Oct 5, 2022  commissioner’s meeting. It has yet to be posted to the Highway Departments Website.
    • Proposed State Legislation – County reimbursement for Medical and Law Enforcement Services provided to the State.  The county provides support to the State Park without reimbursement. This has been a long-standing issue. The state has refused to provide compensation.  The State’s position is that the Park brings in visitors and revenue to the county – we should be grateful. If they provide reimbursement for us, they will have to do it for other counties as well.

County Council Meeting Notes, Jan 17, 2023

we the people declaration and flag

Council Meeting Jan 17, 2022, at 6:30 p.m.

Context.  Brown County has a one-party monopoly on political power which contributes to a closed system. A closed system does not readily accept input from those outside the system and positive change can be very incremental. A closed system is also less transparent and is typically less effective.  Newly elected officials can often bring fresh perspectives for needed changes if they are not worn down by the advocates and defenders of the status quo.

County Council Meeting Agenda Jan 17, 2023

Personnel Policies. The Commissioners are responsible for personnel issues. The Council is responsible for job descriptions and pay policies (checkbook). The duties of the commissioner’s administrative assistant were separated last year into two positions – an HR director and a part-time admin assistant. For the HR Director position, supervisory oversight was assigned to a personal advisory committee (PAC) consisting of a commissioner, councilman, and auditor. Commissioner Sanders with input provided by the county attorney reinforced that personnel oversight is a commissioner’s responsibility and challenged the legality of the PAC . This issue to be worked out in a future meeting.

Redevelopment Commission (RDC).  Questions were raised regarding budget, value, and direction.

 Health Insurance. The need for an HR director with oversight of health insurance policies emerged as a result of out-of-control costs that per councilman Redding, nearly bankrupted the county. After several years of costs exceeding budgets by several hundred thousand dollars, changes were finally made last year that may get costs under control.

Spending.  Assessment of the status of the 3 million dollar loan. Councilman  Dave Redding identified the need for the State Board of Accounts to review the types of expenses charged to this fund regarding infrastructure costs as opposed to covering operating expenses.  Note that in addition to the recurring 3 million dollar loan (it was 2 million), commissioners suggested another 700K may need to be borrowed to fund courthouse additions.

Comprehensive Plan.  Councilman Jim Kemp raised the issue of the value of the Comprehensive Plan and suggested an update starting with an assessment of demographics.

    • Draft 1993 Plan over 90 pages – not approved.

Commissioners are responsible for reviewing and approving the plan which require several public meetings. The Planning Department is the lead office.  The 14- page Comprehensive Plan of 2011 meets the “minimum” state requirements for managing zoning.  Zoning identifies the types of development desired which in turn, establishes an economic base.  The current plan is intentionally vague that allows just about anyone with the right connections and influence to get the approvals needed for their projects. Citing alignment with the comprehensive plan, good arguments can be made for or against a project. This grants appointees to the APC/BZA with too much discretionary decision-making which is rarely challenged by the commissioners. The comprehensive plan should represent the “voice” of the citizens as to what they want and do not want as opposed to the special interests. The plan should also address the community’s desire for the expansion of sewers, economic development, and tourism-related developments, including tourist rentals.

Brown County’s Yellowstone?  Preservation vs development issues. County issues are similar to the popular series Yellowstone – those who live here, love and want to maintain the land as-is as opposed to those that want to exploit development for personal gain.  The lovers of the land, which are the too-silent majority,  represent the economic base for the county.

Topics of future interest include: Funding sources for the courthouse renovations (new bids are due Feb 15). The BCMC Admin Agreement and CVC budget and the responsibility of the council and commissioners in determining revenue distributions. More frequent updates on the status of the 2023 budget – planned vs actual expenses (especially health benefit-related costs). Capital improvement (asset management) plan and budget (this would be “new). The timely posting of meeting agendas and audio recordings. Identification of internal controls for offices, departments, boards, and commissions – identifies those things that must be done per statute to avoid mission failure (this would be new.)   Review of updates to the County Comprehensive Financial Plan??  Indian Hill RR Crossing – Right of Way (Commissioner issue/re-opening and legal costs (council issue).

Other: Council has provided funding for planning by the Helmsburg RSD and Brown County RSD to expand sewer service.  There are risks associated with these projects.  Joint projects are estimated at over 30 million (40 million with inflation).

Brown County Leader Network. Methods and tools that support improvement.

Jan 14, 2023 – A Way Ahead for the Brown County Music Center

we the people declaration and flag

Updated Jan 15, 2023  

On the banner for Brown County Matters Facebook page, there is a reference to secular and non-secular approaches to improvement supported through the Brown County Leader Network (BCLN).

A secular approach supports decisions made by the few and the non-secular supports changes where everyone (all stakeholders affected) can benefit – or at least will not be any worse off in the long term.

    • Secular – Man defines the ideal influenced by many factors: experience, education, ideology, and philosophy.
      • America – Citizens define the ideal
      • Quality Management –Customer defines the ideal
      • Science Fiction –Non-humans define the ideal
    • Non-Secular Strategy – God has described the ideal; All needs are perfectly met. Actions are guided through a Biblical worldview and moral standard

An Interesting post at Brown County Chatter reinforces the secular and nonsecular strategies.
The post started with a question about the Little Opry and then branched off into the Music Center (BCMC).

Discussions regarding the Music Center will most likely always be divisive and polarizing.  A cause?  The project was fast-tracked by perhaps the well-intentioned few with the belief that although the primary motivation was to benefit the tourism industry, residents would benefit as well.

Initially, a bond was considered as a funding source that would have required community-wide support.  Then it was determined that collateral from the innkeeper’s tax would be sufficient and would just need a few people to push it through. Consequently, public meetings by elected officials to gather citizen input and support would not be needed.  Elected officials refused to contract for an independent study to assess the feasibility and risk on behalf of the citizenry.

To summarize, the venue was built to generate more tourism that benefits tourism-related businesses.  Collateral for the loan is revenue from the innkeeper’s tax. This tax is a subsidy provided by the State of Indiana to fund marketing for tourism that generates sales tax revenue.  The state is funded primarily by sales and income tax.  The county is funded by income and property tax. The BCMC is of value for some residents but without tourism-related funding and support, it most likely would never have been built. Plus,  the private sector never demonstrated a financial capability in building a venue.

A way ahead for the BCMC?  HONOR the commitments that were made that county taxpayers would not be expected to bail out this venue.  Refrain from the spin that the venue was built for the entire community (county). Leverage the use of the revenue from the innkeepers’ tax and any excess profits from the Music Center to support county priorities as determined by elected officials with input from all the stakeholders and not just a few.

Additional Information:

stakeholder community

BCRSD Meeting Notes Jan 12, 2023

Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) Meeting Notes: Jan 12, 2023, 6:00 p.m.

Facebook Post

  • Map of the overall concept and potential new customers. Board members declined my request for a copy or to post on their website. The excuse being it is a “Draft.” The excuse regarding “Drafts” has been used before and the State Public Access Counselor (PAC) overruled this opinion. What is the harm on sharing information marked as “Draft” to p[provide people with a heads-up on decisions that will affect their quality of life?  I submitted an inquiry to the PAC.
  • Easements. The target dates for completing applications for funding are April 1. Prior to construction, customers will have to agree to an easement. There is customer support in the Lake Lemon, Trevlac, and Helmsburg areas who have documented needs for service. The justifications in the Bean Blossom area have been based on speculation and conjecture.
  • Future Meetings: (1) Joint Meeting with the Helmsburg RSD on January 24, 2023 at 6PM. This meeting will be held at the BC Community Center in the lower level. (2) Joint meeting with the funding agencies, contractors, and both RSD Boards on Jan 25, 2023, 10:30 Community Foundation, lower level.
  • Boundaries. The current western boundary for the expanded sewer service is the east end of Lake Lemon. There is interest in extending further west into Monroe County. There is support for the Lake Lemon conservancy district and likely Bloomington Utilities.
  • Election of Officers. No change. The current officers reappointed to the same positions.
  • No change — current officers reappointed to the same positions. Mike Leggins (President), Clint Studabaker (VP), Phil LeBlanc (Treasurer), Richard Hall (Secretary), and Matt Hanlon (At-large).
  • Asset Management Plan. The state requires an asset management plan. This will help identify future maintenance and repair costs and likely increases in customer’s monthly rates.
  • BCRSD provided Information. Facebook Page and Website