The Republic Masthead

Bartholomew County Republican primary

County Commissioner District 3

 

Rick Flohr

Party: Republican

Campaign experience: First time running for office

Job: Retired part owner of Product Engineering Company or PECO

Family: Wife Debbie, four grown daughters, nine grandchildren

 

DeWayne Hines

Party: Republican

Campaign experience: Ran unsuccessfully for trustee of Rock Creek Township in 1990.

Job: Employed by Tyler Technologies

Family: Wife Tami, county clerk, three grown children

Marcus Speer

Party: Republican

Campaign experience: first time running for office.

Job: Pastor Jennings Church of Christ in North Vernon, farms in Bartholomew County and drives a school bus for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation

Family: Wife Jennifer, 8-year-old daughter

 

1. The county has two facilities -- the county garage and annex -- that soon will need replacement or relocation, what are your thoughts on what should be done? 1. Two good examples of aging facilities is the county highway garage and also the annex building. I think the annex building is probably, oh I'd say more in need than the highway garage. Although the highway garage is important, it's a structure that they work out of and a simpler structure and so, you know, a pole-type building or whatever there. But basically, I think you just have to decide if you want to repair them or rebuild them. Right now, you know, we only have what we have, but again there's some of this found money that will be coming to us and I know that the need will be greater than what the amount of dollars is. But I think the the money that's not EDIT tax should be used for aging facilities and so, you've got to start somewhere and that's where I would start. Again, I think it's a matter of determining well 'am I going to build new or am I going to repair what I have?' 1. Those buildings are, of course, been there for a long time and they need maintenance. I think just like we do with the roads and bridges, I think every year we need to take a snapshot or picture of all of the county facilities and see what kind of maintenance they're in and then just like with the roads prioritize those needs and those repairs so that we can meet those funds for them. Then that way, I think we also need to plan for the future. In the short term, we need to have a community discussion of whether to replace those buildings or move those departments in those buildings to somewhere temporarily, but I think in the long range I think we need to start saving money either through the rainy day fund or through other funding avenues to create a fund to build some of the buildings that we're going to need in the future. That's maybe a five- or 10-year plan and I think the county commissioners that's part of their job is being the overseers, quote, unquote, of the county to plan out and to do that long range thinking and planning. I hope to work with all the department heads and each year do an analysis of not only their current budget for each year but to look forward with them as well to see the new technology coming on board and things like that that we can fund those things as well in a five- and 10-year plan. 1. I know it's been an ongoing question because of being part of the 4-H program I constantly hear about the fact that the, as we call it, the extension office is deteriorating and needs to, something's going to have to be done. You go in there and you can tell that its deteriorated. Obviously, as with the courthouse, I know they have a plan that somewhat lays out a short-range and long-range plan, obviously we're going to have to do the same thing with those facilities too. We got to have a plan of action that's laid out, I know that drags it out just a little bit more, but I think it's the only way to get good feedback information and also be the most cost effective so that we can see where we can best maybe relocate, which it sounds like that's one thing that has been considered and maybe should be considered for that. I know the county garage, I think they said was built in the 1950s or something. I think you have to go to those folks too that work there. That's one thing I hate when I seen in other places they make decisions and don't ask the people who are most affected by it. Well, what to they think about this? What would be most beneficial for them and how can they maybe do with less in one area, but need more in another area? In this technology world that's certainly an important aspect that we need to consider. We have to look at how we can be efficient with what we have made available and how to the very best job with the money that have available to us.
2. In this economic downturn, the county is constantly looking for ways to become more efficient, if elected what could you do as commissioner to improve the efficiency of county government? 2. That's an interesting question and to me it brings up a situation, I guess, when you want to talk about inefficiency in the county government, I think our county government does very well, but we have one situation that I think is a perfect example of something that's not working as it should be and that is the distribution of the inn keepers tax in our county. With all due respect to everyone who's involved, it seems to me that the Visitors Information and Promotion Commission has unintentionally evolved into something that was not foreseen or intended. The VIP has a responsibility of distributing the innkeepers tax funds to entities such as the Columbus Area Visitor's Center. As I understand it, the situation there is where the members of the Columbus Area Visitor's Center are also on the board of the VIP. Even with the best of intentions on the part of everyone, there's always going to be the possibility of perception of unfairness there. The VIP commission was created in 1987 and there's a simple solution to this problem and it's within the realm of the influence of the commissioners. I would recommend that the VIP commission be disbanded and we would create a new commission and just for argument's sake let's call it the Innkeepers Tax Distribution Commission and that way there would be no confusion as to what their purpose is. And anyone affiliated with any entity who's in line for innkeepers taxes would be prohibited from serving on that commission. 2. Improving the efficiency of county government, I would look inside each department and I think communication is a key vital tool with the commissioners and their department heads, the County Highway Department or the IT Department, but also with the elected officials in the county. We need to work very closely and have a good communication and rapport with them and and understand what they do in their offices and then that way we can look to find efficiencies of the different buildings, the (government office) building, the courthouse or even inside the Sheriff's Department of finding ways we could share some resources and either if it's mailing resources or paper resources that we can work together. And also, state law may have to change a little bit with that so I hope to use my existing relationships with state level officials to facilitate some of those changes in state law so that we can be more efficient and so our hands aren't tied so much here on the local level. 2. Efficiency was a question asked at the forum that we had, that the Republican ladies had, and of course that often will lead to the question of uniting government between city and county. We have to look at ways that we can be more efficient together with other government units, but we always have to look at is that cost effective for both units, not just one unit? And where we find cost-effective ways to join together to do a better job with the resources we have, we have to seriously consider that and see if we can move forward, but we don't ever want, you know, to go and have that cost shifted to the county so that we carry a larger burden than the other unit, maybe city or other units out of our county. And I think that's something we sometimes forget about that we have more than one unit in this county. Our town governments sometimes probably could have some work, collaboration between county government and them, that would be very beneficial. It would encourage them in sometimes even more difficult economical times than we experience as a county. So, we have to continue to be more efficient but avoid any increased cost to the county.
3. What are your thoughts on economic development tools like tax abatements and CEDIT funds and should the county in essence make out-and-out loans to entice new businesses? 3. Well, tax abatement, to me, can be a very useful tool by local government. My partners and I were fortunate enough to benefit from tax abatement in 1984 when we went into business. So, I know from my own experience how it can be helpful to a new business venture. While tax abatement can be a good thing, local government must consider the impact that it has on the community. A new firm with a tax abatement could have a competitive advantage over a similar firm that's already here and paying their full share of taxes. Also, a tax abatement could result in a firm paying less property taxes than it receives in services. Well, somebody's got to pay for those services, so it's going to be the other companies that are already here paying their full share of taxes. I believe tax abatement definitely has benefits to the community, but the local officials need to make sure they cover all their bases. Out-and-out loans, you know, without a lot of research and knowing really a specific situation, I'd say no. You know, the county is, we have enough trouble finding money for ourselves let alone loaning it to others. 3. Well, I think we've already got the EDIT tax in place and I think that's a good tool. The current County Commissioners have in their two-year plan for the money, they've got $250,000 set aside for economic development. I think that's a good start to do that. I think also the condition of the roads and the bridges and the infrastructure in Bartholomew County is vital and I think that helps with economic development, funding those also, so we can look at that as economic development also. But I think too that the new businesses when they come in what they're looking for is that infrastructure, the ease of access to a place, to a plant, the roads, the sewers, the waterlines and those kind of things. So, I think if a developer wants to come in and say he wants to develop this piece of land, I think we'd be able to work with him with that $250,000 or any other future money that we decide to dedicate toward that effort. Economic development's vital, I believe. 3. Tax abatements, of course, are approved by County Council in this our current structure of county government. We can encourage our County Council to consider those tax abatements and our County Council gave answers to that. You may have to certainly investigate those when they make good economic sense to do them. We should also to follow up, we got to make sure we do that follow up to make sure what we're being promised is actually happening so that we have true economical development from these companies. You know, it's a hard job to attract the businesses in this, sometimes, climate. We just have to be pro-business, I think. You know, pro-business decisions. The State of Indiana's done that and we have to look to do that as well to encourage folks. Outright loans, I can't see that. I know our current commissioners are very proud of the fact that we have very little debt. We just have the jail debt and I think that's commendable and I would hate to have to go into debt. I know that it could be beneficial in bringing some businesses, but I can't see myself favoring such a loan to businesses just to attract them here. We would need to look for other funding or maybe we could work in conjunction with them to find the funding that they might need to assist them in locating or adding on to their facilities here in our community to hopefully increase jobs.
       

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