Unique and Challenging Demographics

The Vision 2010/2020 Project identified our “Unique and Challenging Demographics” that raised awareness of the “tensions” between the“From heres” and “Come heres”

Tension Between Socio-Economic Levels – Growing Adversarial Culture?

There is a wide and growing income gap, with fewer middle incomes. In addition to creating tension, these shifting demographics have caused housing prices to skyrocket, and property taxes to increase, making it difficult to both live and work in Brown County and further heightening the tension. Many also believe that this gap has skewed the per capita income data for the county, creating an unrealistic profile of the county’s asset base and leading to further challenges.

The difference in perspective that comes along with this tension is profound. It contributes to trust issues and unbalanced participation in community processes.”

Many believe that a fundamental demographic shift is underway and that the demographic slices and tensions described above will continue to increase. Increasing tension between local/non-local and haves/have nots makes it difficult to work together on community issues. Some noted that the shift has created a growing “adversarial culture.”

Reference: 2008 Countywide  Needs and Assets Assessment, slides 22-24.

Community Focus for 2019

County and Community Focus for 2019 – Presentations at the Playhouse

Background Information:

Major Changes – Impacts and Concerns

Some significant changes happening throughout the county and region.

Can an alignment of regional and county initiatives lead to more employers and higher paying careers, a higher quality of life in our community and an increase in career opportunities for our students? (See below – ROI, Ready Communities and Ready Schools).

The unplanned growth and change in the county are reinforcing long-term concerns of gentrification and questioning the motives of those that are advocating for these changes.  (Unplanned means that the changes are not identified in any published plans to include the county comprehensive plan.  A draft of the county economic development strategic plan was presented on June 12, 2019, BC Playhouse, 6:00 p.m.

  • Gentrification. Defined as demand in an area that attracts wealthier residents and investors that lead to changes that increase the cost of living to the extent that previous residents can no longer afford to live in the area.
  • Who Benefits? Would include local developers, realtors, the local government that collects more tax revenue.  Changes can lead to increased economic activity and decreased crime rates. In Brown County, local developers include those representing the tourism industry.

RDC 2019 Initiatives.  In addition to the Economic Plan, priority for the RDC includes an initiative to address “Salvage Yards, Blight, and Squalor.”  This will include addressing junked and abandoned vehicles.  (Source: Area Plan Commission (APC) meeting, May 28, 2019.   Kemp expects participation from the Health Dept, Health Board, APC. BCRSD, Schools, Keep BC Beautiful, Recycle Center, etc. Kemp already has the support of the commissioners and council and leadership in the local Republican party. Expect an increase in property taxes to finance the legal bills and clean up costs?

Income Trends -Since 1999, 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.

United Way – Poverty Rates.  In Brown County, 1 of every 5 children lives in poverty, and 1 of every 3 households struggles to afford the basic necessities, including food.  (Source:  Kids Count in Indiana 2017 Data Book, the calendar year 2015 and United Way ALICE Report—2016 Update for Indiana)

Low to Moderate Income (LMI).  A countywide income survey completed in 2017 identified an LMI level at 53.1% which qualified the county for federal planning grants.  The county is currently working on creating an economic development strategic plan.

Econ Development Strategic Plan – Timeline. Scheduled Presentations of the Economic Plan at the Playhouse:

  • June 12– Jim Kemp & Thomas P. Miller review draft of Economic Plan
  • Nov 13 –Review Final Economic Development Plan

Higher assessed values, higher property taxes. The 2018 Assessed Values (taxes payable in 2019) increased significantly from the prior years.  Since 2012, assessments have increases from 7 – 16 % throughout the county with the exception being Nashville whose major industry is tourism.  Nashville’s assessed value decreases by 1%.   Assessed Values 2012-2019

State Property Tax System. The system can result in yearly increases in assessments and taxes. Citizen’s Guide to Property Tax

Useful Life of Septic Systems  –Policies – County and Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD).  What will be the impact on buyers and sellers of real estate in the County?   Information to consider before purchasing a home in Brown County

Higher Cost of Utilities. 

  • Water. ” Nashville Utilities would see a 154 percent rate increase”…
  • Environment.”   Attempts are being made to link water quality with failing septic systems.  There is no evidence (reports on file) of any failed septic systems.  Tests are being conducted to determine if e-Coli in creeks and lakes are due to human or animal contamination.

Higher Taxes.  The Proposed $10-12 million Justice Center and Historic Courthouse Re-purpose/Renovation.  Will lead to more debt and higher property taxes on fewer residents over the term of the loan.

Higher Costs.  See above – Salvage Yards, Blight, Squalor.   Will require more expense on residents or taxpayers when residents cannot afford to comply with any existing or new ordinances.  Failure or inability to pay fines can result in liens.

  • Boards starting to talk about vehicles, property cleanup, Sara Clifford –  Two Brown County boards have begun talking about topics that they know will probably become hot ones: what to do about abandoned vehicles, and how to “preserve and protect our natural environment” in a county that is sensitive to edicts about personal property use.
    • Boards – Redevelopment Commission (RDC) and Area Plan Commission (APC)

County Five Year Financial Plan 2016-2021. Identifies the county is near maxed out on raising income taxes and raising new revenue will require increases in property taxes.

Regional Economic and Community Development Initiatives.

  • Regional Opportunity Initiative (ROI). Regional effort to improve local and regional economies.    The region includes an 11-county area that encompasses Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties.

Tourism – Facts and Myths

Brown County Leaders Connecting Leaders.   The county applied and received a grant in 2017 to participate in the Hometown Collaborative Initiative (HCI).  The team is currently working to complete the Capstone Project to validate a proof of concept for supporting and improving leadership capabilities.

Helmsburg Revitalization – Community Led.   A positive example of leaders in a community taking action to determine what they want and do not want in terms of community and economic development. This model can be applied to the communities of Bean Blossom and Gnaw Bone.

Community Focus for 2019

  • January 23–Quality of Place and Workforce Town Hall
  • April 10–“The survey says and the opportunities are…” Results from the Quality of Place Workforce Plan survey
  • June 12–Our Valuable Resources and our Economic Plan
    • Our Children –Dr. Hammack presents the annual State of Schools Report
    • Our Economic Stability –Jim Kemp & Thomas P. Miller review draft of Economic Plan
  • Aug 14 –Preserving Our Environment –Protecting and managing our environment including infrastructure and environmental challenges and plans
  • Nov 13 –Review Final Economic Development Plan
Link to Brown County Matters Facebook Post.

Remaining 2019 Meeting Dates – RDC

Location:  “Makers Space” at the Junior High School, 95 School House Lane

  • May 23 @ 6:00
  • JUNE 12 – Playhouse 6:00 PM – Draft Econ Plan
  • June 27 @ 6:00
  • July 25 @ 6:00
  • Aug. 22 @ 6:00
  • Sept. 26 @ 6:00
  • Oct. 24 @ 6:00
  • NOV 13 –Review Final Economic Development Plan – Playhouse 6:00 P.M
  • Nov. 28 @ 6:00
  • Dec. 26 @ 6:00  (that may need to be adjusted due to proximity to the holidays)

Former highway leader shares concerns about gravel roads

Apr 9, 2019, BCD, Staff Reports. Former highway leader shares concerns about gravel roads

Former highway superintendent Ron Fleetwood presented a slideshow on the condition of gravel roads in Van Buren Township at the Brown County Commissioners meeting March 20.

“You’d like to blame the condition on the road on wet weather,” he said. “It’s that way all summer. The same thing happens in the same place all the time.”

Fleetwood showed photos of Elkinsville and Blue Creek roads with potholes, culvert, ditch and berm issues.

“I understand it’s a gravel road. I hear people say they knew it was gravel when they moved there, but they have the right to expect to have a reasonably well maintained road,” he said.

He also showed a photo of a wooden bridge on Blue Creek Road that was covered in mud.

“If that bridge fails, there’s no way for emergency services or anybody to get there. That bridge definitely needs to be cleaned off,” he said.

Fleetwood said he has gone out to the gravel roads two days after they are graded and the potholes are back because they are not cut out by highway department crews and are filled with loose material only.

“If we had money upfront to pave all the roads, it would be cheaper to maintain them than gravel roads,” commissioner Jerry Pittman said. “Those left with gravel are more expensive to maintain and more expensive for people to drive on. Until we find $30 million to finish paving the roads, we’re stuck with taking care of the gravel roads.”

Pittman said he spoke with Brown County Highway Superintendent Mike Magner about getting gravel crowns back onto the roads in Van Buren Township. Magner, who sat through Fleetwood’s presentation, said he would work on that.

Brown County Road Paving Plans and Examples from other counties

Road and Bridge Maintenance Information

Capital Improvement Plans and Budgets

Aug 15, 2019. BCD Bridge inspection report: More than $9 million in work needed to replace bridges over… by Suzannah Couch.  Brown County is looking at more than $9 million worth of bridge work needing to be done in the next nine years …


Joint Meetings – BC Regional Sewer District (RSD) Boards

Helmsburg RSD rates are the highest in the county at $92.50. Helmsburg needs more customers.

Bean Blossom has not had enough customers to support a plant of their own and had to expand their proposed service area to include Woodland Lake, Freeman Ridge and Little Fox Lake.  The proposed plan by the BCRSD Board for a $7.3 million wastewater treatment plant in Bean Blossom does not address county-wide needs to include a plan for Helmsburg.  Commissioner Jerry Pittman took the initiative to facilitate joint meetings of the RSDs to discuss needs and areas of concern.

  • HRSD – Helmsburg Regional Sewer District (HRSD) Board
  • BCRSD – Brown County Regional Sewer District (GRSD) Board
  • NRSD – Nashville Regional Sewer District Board
  • BC – Brown County

Apr 30, 2019 HRSD Board Meeting. 

April 9, 2019.  HRSD Proposed Options version 1  20190401 Presented by Bill Austin, at the BCRSD Board Meeting.

April 4, 2019.  “First” Joint Meeting of County RSDs. Joint Meeting – Brown County Areas Sewer Boards 2019_04_01

  • Nashville identified that “annexation”  would be used for areas such as Annadale, that want sewer service.  Note the annexation requirement was proposed by Nashville for providing service to Bean Blossom area residents. The Nashville proposal was rejected by the BCRSD Board at the time.

March 25,2019.  Helmsburg RSD Special Meeting 2019_03_25

  • Commissioner Pittman offered to facilitate a Joint Meeting of the RSDs – offer was accepted by the HRSD Board.

March 18, 2019 – HRSD Meeting Minutes.2019_03_18 HRSD Meeting Minutes