Commissioner candidates agree on new tax

If necessary, both candidates seeking the District 3 Bartholomew County Commissioner seat say they are open to the creation of a new property tax.

Republican incumbent Rick Flohr and Democratic challenger Brad Woodcock say the adoption of a cumulative capital development tax should be considered to finance major renovations at both the downtown Bartholomew County Courthouse and the Bartholomew County Highway Garage on State Street.

One of the few sources of new revenue levied by the commissioners, rather than the county council, the cumulative capital development tax is currently collected by a vast majority of Indiana counties for building construction and renovations.

Woodcock, an Elizabethtown property developer, is advocating for a long-term maintenance plan for all county buildings.

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“Building repairs become costlier the longer you wait,” said Woodcock, who worked for Toyota Industrial Equipment for 18 years before starting his own business. “If funds cannot be found within the budget to be put aside specifically for building maintenance, then a cumulative capital development tax should be considered.”

Flohr, a retired business owner, said commissioners are considering hiring a firm to provide a full analysis to ascertain the structural condition of the courthouse and recommended solutions.

In addition, the 1968 Columbus High School graduate said an engineering firm has already provided a master plan for the garage with cost estimates.

“I support these projects with a cumulative capital development fund,” Flohr said.

Bartholomew County auditor Barb Hackman has said that due to a recent regulatory change, failure to enact a new cumulative capital development tax will result in a $680,000 drop in funding from the state next year.

The impacts are as follows, Hackman said:

For a property owner with a home assessed at $100,000 who takes normal deductions, the first year impact of what’s often referred to as the ‘cum-cap’ tax would be $5.44.

For owners of a $200,000 assessed residence, the tax liability would be $16.26 annually.

The amount would double in subsequent years, creating between $1.2 million and $1.3 million in additional annual revenue, the auditor said. But even if the commissioners approved the new tax, it would not generate revenue for another two years, Hackman said.

Flohr said his top priorities, if re-elected, would be maintaining roads, bridges, buildings and infrastructure.

In contrast, challenger Woodcock said his top priorities include examining new ways of addressing the county’s budget issues, as well as reducing waste within departments.

The Republican and Democrat agree on several other goals.

Flohr and Woodcock list restructuring of the county’s information technology department — which lost all of its employees over a 14-month period — as a priority.

Both candidates said they also want to address the needs and concerns of the county’s 400-plus employees, who were hit by higher health insurance deductibles and premiums this year.

While the District 3 commissioner represents Jackson, Wayne, Ohio, Sandcreek and Rockcreek townships, all along the southern portion of Bartholomew County, all county residents vote for the position.

What's next

Previews of contested races in Bartholomew County begin today and will continue daily. Coming Saturday: Bartholomew County coroner.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.