by Helen Kremer
On March 14, 2007, the Dearborn County Council was trying to decide whether or not to hire Vieste, a company from Indianapolis, to assist the County Administrator with plans to coordinate services, and market our county at a cost of $780,000. Well, the thought came to mind—why not hire us, the citizens of the county? Hey—we could keep that money right here, especially since not everyone was exactly thrilled with an earlier Vieste report targeting farmland in the NW quadrant for future development. Vieste also donated to one candidate in the last election, and not the other—not a good idea.
In fact, speakers from the NW quadrant gave pertinent information to allay the fears of the “we need economic development, lower taxes, and keep our children in jobs in Dearborn County” group. The speakers said these fears were unfounded and provided facts to support their findings, and they did not believe we needed to hire Vieste
One of the Council members said that is how it’s done, governments hire outside people to do this kind of work. Another Council member differed—he thought maybe this money could be better spent by hiring local people to do the job, and he was worried about eminent domain. Then, a third Council member, questioning a Vieste employee about The Indianapolis Star article concerning a water utility in Indiana, didn’t care for the response he received. This caused the chairperson of the Council to table the matter for discussion at a later date.
We need to help these people. The time has come for us to rescue our county. We are local citizens, and we can do this job! We promise eminent domain will never be an issue. The name of our firm is the Government Outsource Specialist Helpmates (GOSH). Whatever the county needs—we’ll do it, and cheaper too. Our motto will be “Remember you are a public servant!” Two signs in our office state our mission goals which read as follows:
Responsible Public Officials
- believe all meetings should be open to the public,
- listen carefully to what people are saying—do not make up your mind until you have all the facts,
- realize zoning ordinances were put in place for a reason—respect the land,
- when considering zoning changes make sure if it’s not good for most citizens maybe it’s not a good idea, and don’t jeopardize land that belongs to others,
- never hire outside firms that have been investigated for unethical activities.
Economic Development Department
- Hire people with excellent math skills!
- Get real figures regarding the benefits, and costs of economic development.
- Study incentives and tax abatements for economic development—how much tax money will be collected for county government use?
- TIF areas pay current taxes for 30 years (what will the cost be for taxpayers to make up the difference, i.e., 25% or more, over 30 years?)
- Find out how much taxes increase/decrease due to residential development because of cost of services?
- Ask school superintendents to explain why they believe TIFS are hurting our school funding, and the amount of tax dollars needed to keep topnotch schools?
- Establish needs/projected costs for fire and police protection, and equipment.
Simplistic—you bet. Silly--maybe, but the above items do focus on legitimate issues. Did you know citizens in this county, while they were just going about their lives, were unaware their property was being targeted for development in closed-door meetings? Certainly, public officials cannot be comfortable with that type of behavior. And, do you think we should consider hiring firms with a checkered past? We hope not.
There are smart people in this county who can be hired for whatever job needs to be done, at less cost. We want our public officials to demonstrate they can do what is best for all of us, or GOSH—you’re going to have to hire us!
Helen Kremer has an MA in Education from the College of Mount St. Joseph. She retired from Kilgour Elementary School, Mt. Lookout, a Cincinnati Public School, where she taught Enrichment classes, and 6th grade Language Arts and Social Studies. She is a member of the Dearborn County Land Use Advisory Committee.