The Republic Masthead

Bartholomew County Republican primary

County Council At-Large


Bill Lentz

Party: Republican

Office sought: At-large seat on Bartholomew County Council.

Elected offices: Flat Rock-Hawcreek school board from 1992 to 2008; completing first 4-year term on the County Council.

Job: Farmer

Family: Wife, Shari, married 29 years; son Aaron, 23; daughter Ashley, 21.


Evelyn Pence

Party: Republican

Office sought: At-large seat on Bartholomew County Council.

Elected offices: County Council member since 1980.

Job: Retired in June from Cummins Inc.

Family: Husband Ben Pence, married 35 years; Daughter, Melissa.

Jim Reed

Party: Republican

Office sought: At-large seat on Bartholomew County Council.

Elected offices: County Council appointee from 2001 to 2004; Rock Creek Township Advisory Board.

Job: Retired farmer.

Family: Wife, Karen; son Jamey, 38; daughters Melissa, 37, and Amanda, 27; and 5 grandchildren.

1) What do you think about the Economic Development Income Tax? Why do you think it is or is not needed in this county? When it was first adopted a couple of years ago ... at that time right after we adopted it I said, 'Oh, we shouldn't have did this,' because I'm not a tax person. I don't like additional taxes. ... I've never seen a country or anything tax itself to prosperity. It turned out it was a lifesaver. We did have a big shortfall in those years right after it was adopted. And because of that we were able to fund several hundred thousand dollars of public safety that we wouldn't have had, economic development and roads. We didn't want to do the EDIT and wheel tax both. The EDIT gave us some flexibility, the wheel tax didn't. The original intent was for economic development, and that still is what we're trying to use it for. It has been a lifesaver to us in some ways as we've been able to use that for roads since we don't have a wheel tax. We have used it for economic development to encourage other businesses to come to Columbus. And we have also used it for safety reasons with our sheriff's deputy cars. E-911 was in trouble and it helped us there also. ... I don't think anyone likes unnecessary taxes. ... It has helped the county. I think it's needed because the state is providing less funding, especially for roads and different things, and we use it for roads. Safety issues, automobiles as well as economic development. ... And of course all the economic development is great. When you get industry to come in and especially to come in and stay, and all those taxes are involved and paid to the county besides the Economic Development Tax.
2) What is your opinion about adopting a wheel tax? I would have to say 100 percent no. We have some taxes in place. Government should only exist in my opinion to enhance the lives of people or make your life and my life better, and then it should stop. ... We seem to have all (things) covered with the taxes we have. Since we have the EDIT, I would have no intention of adding on a wheel tax. The wheel tax does go towards roads, and right now we're using the EDIT tax money for roads. Our highway department is trying to be very thrifty by using chip and seal on roads and doing things also that will expand the life of our roads. I really feel good about everybody working together. I'm opposed to any new taxes like that. But I honestly can't say that I would give my word that we wouldn't enact that if it need be at the time. I'd have to see the budget. And when I'm in office if elected I'd look at that very strongly before we enacted another tax.
3) How do you feel about tax abatements? Why? We follow up on tax abatements. We have not had very many. ... We do make sure they're doing what they should be doing. They (abatements) have their places but as a rule I'm not a big fan of them. I have voted for them but it has to meet the criteria and there has to actually offer some jobs. If something came to Columbus and it was a real shot in the arm and it was going to create a lot of jobs, that's why we have economic development money set aside. But just for anyone to come in and want a tax abatement I think it would be tough on a county. They would have to prove to us that they're really going to help the people. It has brought additional jobs into the community. I think once it's been started it's hard to take it away. Businesses do appreciate it and we do follow through to make sure that when someone says they're going to hire 40 people, we check and they do. In some cases they have been able to go much higher. ... It's been a good tool. I think they're a good thing, and the reason why is because other counties use them, and it encourages people to develop here, spend money for equipment. I think we need to really be sure that they do what they're saying they're going to do, invest in whatever equipment or the number of employees they will hire. ... I think it's a tool to help people decide on your county and your area. If you don't do it, the counties around that do provide it, and they very well may go there. We get the money back with employees' income tax, and when the abatements are gone ... we have the tax then.

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