Tuesday, March 11, 2014


For Immediate Release
March 11, 2014
Dearborn County Board of Commissioners
Release “2013 State of the County” Report
The Dearborn County Board of Commissioners released a “State of the County” report today.  The report reflects on the efforts and success of 2013 and is designed to keep County Council and the citizens of Dearborn County updated on the goals, priorities, successes, and challenges facing our county. 
An excerpt of the Executive Summary in the report states: “Major successes included cleaning up outdated ordinances, gaining a better understanding of the challenges facing managers and county Boards, building deeper and better relationships across the municipalities and community as a whole, bringing to resolution an internal struggle of jail overcrowding and a debate that had been occuring over many years, addressing the potential of being considered “high risk” for unemployment insurance due to repeated years of high claims, and stepping into a very competive situation to secure the largest economic development project in the unincorporated area of the county in many years.”
Interested citizens who read the report will gain a better understanding of the strategic goals the Commissioners have for Dearborn County.  It includes details on progress this past year relative to economic growth, fiscal responsibility, communication & accountability, risk management, capital projects, and roads & bridges.   As stated in the opening letter, “Whether it’s forging new partnerships, promoting economic development, or managing the day-to-day operations of the county, you can rest assured the trust you have placed in us is not taken lightly.  We have much work ahead of us and remind you that our door is always open to hear your ideas and feedback as this truly is your government.” 
The full report is available on the Dearborn County Government website home page at: www.dearborncounty.org by clicking on the Commissioners department page.  You can also call the County Commissioners office at (812) 537-1040 for an email or hard copy.  Financial information on the county can also be obtained through the Indiana Gateway for governmental units at www.gateway.ifionline.org.
March 1, 2014

                                                Kevin Lynch, District 1

                                                Art Little, District 2

                                                Shane McHenry, District 3


March 1, 2014

To:       Members of County Council & Citizens of Dearborn County

Re:       Report – State of Dearborn County

Dearborn County government provides valuable and essential services that touch every individual in our community.  We are a vital part of local government and have a responsibility to create a strategic vision, establish priorities, hold ourselves and others accountable, and always put our citizens first in every decision. 

As we reflect on 2013, the year can best be described as one of transition, intensity, focus, and pride.  People who were once untapped around us are contributing in a bigger way and relationships, our culture, communication, and service is improving as a result of a shared vision for our future.   

To our knowledge, this is the first report of this type to be published from the Commissioners’ office.  If we are successful in this effort, the report will highlight the changes and initiatives we believe are setting us on a path of transparency, accountability, fiscal responsibility, improved communication, and synergy with our citizens, communities, boards, service organizations, volunteers, and employees.

Whether it’s forging new partnerships, promoting economic development, or managing the day-to-day operations of the county, you can rest assured the trust you have placed in us is not taken lightly.  We have much work ahead of us and remind you that our door is always open to hear your ideas and feedback as this truly is your government. 


Shane McHenry, President                Art Little                                  Kevin Lynch

Commissioner, District 3                    Commissioner, District 2        Commissioner, District 1


Executive Summary


In 2013, the Commissioners focused on several key areas we felt would “move the needle” and build a firm foundation for quicker, more impactful progress.  The focus was on compliance, planning, economic development, moving “idle” projects to completion, and working with…not through…our elected officials throughout the county.  The approach was multi-faceted with some kind of “action” orientation to address key items in nearly every core area/department under the Commissioners’ authority.

Major successes included cleaning up outdated ordinances, gaining a better understanding of the challenges facing managers and county Boards, building deeper and better relationships across the municipalities and community as a whole, bringing to resolution an internal struggle of jail overcrowding and a debate that had been occurring over many years, addressing the potential of being considered “high risk” for unemployment insurance due to repeated years of high claims, and stepping into a very competitive situation to secure the largest economic development project in the unincorporated area of the county in many years.

Proudly, 2013 saw tangible results that exceeded what even we thought was possible.  The impetus for that success was leadership, giving our department heads and board members the support and direction they deserve to perform at a higher level, holding ourselves and those around us accountable to specific goals, energizing key stakeholders around a shared vision of the future, and simply rolling up our sleeves and cranking out the work.  We began to look at ourselves as a “business” rather than a bureaucratic government operation.




VALUES & GUIDING PRINCIPLES............................................................................page 2

STRATEGIC STATEMENT AND GOALS...................................................................page 4

FOCUS AREA 1: ECONOMIC GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT…..................pages 5 & 6

FOCUS AREA 2: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY............................................................page 7


FOCUS AREA 4: MANAGING RISK & PUBLIC SAFETY.......................................page 8

FOCUS AREA 5: CAPITAL PROJECTS….………….................................................page 8

FOCUS AREA 6: ROADS & BRIDGES……………………………………………….page 9

CLOSING REMARKS…………………………………………………………………..page 9



~ 1 ~


The current Board of County Commissioners came together as a team for the first time on January 1, 2013.  Commissioner Shane McHenry (District 3), President, was elected to his office in 2010.  Two new Commissioners joined the board in January 2013 -- Art Little (District 2) and Kevin Lynch (District 1).   We work very well together and respect each other’s opinions.  Even if we disagree on an issue, we find common ground and are able to work through challenges because we agree on key values that are critical to long term success:

·         Treat our citizens, employees, and one another with respect, honesty, dignity, and fairness.


·         Encourage innovation, ideas, and teamwork across all County offices and departments.


·         Be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money through planning, streamlining processes, pooling resources, and fiscal responsibility.


·         Reach out to our cities, towns, and unincorporated communities across the county; actively soliciting input, sharing information, and collaborating for the good of the whole.


·         Keep the health and safety of Dearborn County’s citizens a top priority; ensuring we are prepared for crises both natural and unnatural.


·         Challenge everyone in county government to lead by example in their functional areas.  We must serve as role models for a culture of accountability, quality service, and appreciation for the blessings that have been bestowed upon us.   Be grateful and serve.


·         Be forward-thinking, taking a proactive versus reactive approach to day-to-day operations; benchmark against our peers to challenge ourselves and actively seek solutions to issues.


·         Respect and honor our community history while embracing a progressive future.


·         Earn a reputation for serving our citizens with professionalism, knowledge, dedication, and going the extra mile.


·         Do the “right” thing, even if it is difficult or unpopular.  Ethics, honesty, and integrity matter.  Make every decision in the best interest of our citizens; trying to remove the politics by being diligent in gathering information so we can make good, informed decisions.


·         Make operational decisions for our county as if we were running our own business; spending our own money.  Be accountable and dare to address and identify issues that are inconsistent with our values, goals, and priorities.



This Board of Commissioners believes you have to know where you want to go, decide how you will get there, and share the destination with your team.  Strategic plans fail for lack of focus, resources, understanding, accountability, and follow up. 

Because we know the reasons past plans have failed, and accept that they are an ever-evolving and living thing (subject to political changes, resistance, etc.) that are not always 100% in our control, we have not spent countless hours in strategy sessions or created fancy spreadsheets and presentations.  This Board is very bottom-line driven and results oriented.  Thus, we have a “framework” and an informal working strategy and it is the responsibility of our County Administrator to lead the charge on our behalf and keep us on track with our priorities.

With this said, it is important for us to be clear with what the strategy and priorities are and continually engage our citizens, managers, and elected officials as to their opinions and issues in order to calibrate and validate our course of action.  The following section of this report is an “overview” of key goals from 2013, what has been accomplished thus far, and what still needs to be done in 2014 to continue forward progress.

~ 2 ~


FOCUS AREA 1:  Economic Growth & Development

Core Objective:  Support the growth and development of a strong and vibrant economy.


·         Commissioners and the Redevelopment Commission to take a stronger leadership position to drive economic stability and growth; bring in new business, retain existing business, and foster entrepreneurship.


·         Openings on the Dearborn County Redevelopment Commission (DCRC) were utilized to include representation on the board from other areas of the county; members from Dillsboro and St. Leon were added to create a Board that was more representative of a cross-section of the whole county.


·         Through the efforts of DCRC, the Commissioners, and many others in the community, the County was able to bring “Whitewater Mill” to West Harrison.  The result will be 35 initial jobs, $40 Million in investment in the facility and equipment, and a second facility that will be built within the next few years (offering additional jobs and tax base). Through improved communication and dialogue, financial support in the form of a grant for $1.4 million from the Lawrenceburg Regional Economic Development program was obtained in support of the Whitewater Mill project.  In part, this was achieved by demonstrating a sizeable investment by the county of over $3 million in bonds leveraged against future tax revenue from the project over 15 years.


·         Commissioners and County Administrator were active in reaching out to members of the Chamber of Commerce, leaders in the municipalities, and local business leaders to gain insights into the issues and challenges facing the county as we embark on economic development (i.e. workforce shortages, skills gaps, demographic and infrastructure concerns, etc.).


·         New relationships were forged across the county and municipalities.  Regular monthly meetings with Mayors of Lawrenceburg, Greendale, Aurora, and the President of the Board of Commissioners are now being held to foster collaboration, communication, and cooperation.


·         Provide additional support and refocus the County Redevelopment Commission in light of unforeseen changes and gaps in activity following the departure of contracted employees from EDI.


·         The DCRC began work to evaluate the flood plain and land availability in the West Harrison/ I-74 corridor and is currently working on a Master Plan for economic development in that TIF district.


·         Land negotiations, offers, and purchases of property were completed in West Harrison TIF area in 2013.


·         Ramp up the learning curve through research, education offerings, and visits to other counties to isolate best practices.  Bring in resources to ensure we are compliant, understand the economic tools at our disposal, and improve our ability to aggressively pursue new business.


·         A detailed training on Redevelopment Commission responsibilities, statutes, and role in growing the economy was presented to the DCRC by Barnes & Thornburg.


·         Visited other communities for “best practice” and knowledge sharing; including networking visits with Economic Development professionals in various communities to identify opportunities to mirror some of their successes in Dearborn County.


·         Worked closely with specialty legal resources to understand to “deal” structuring for economic development projects and the various tools available to incentivize companies to relocate to Dearborn County.  This included the legal processes and compliance that will serve as a resource and reference point for future projects.


~ 3 ~


FOCUS AREA 2: Fiscal Responsibility


·         Demonstrate a commitment to understanding and contribute to the fiscal health of the county.  This was accomplished through a joint meeting with County Council, Commissioners, and staff from the Auditor’s office to review the financial condition of the county and explain the various funds and their use.


·         Increased scrutiny and due diligence was done through the Commissioners office with capital projects: Jail Expansion, Demolition of the Shumway/Votaw buildings for Parking Lot, and Highway projects; as well as questioning expenditures and seeking to streamline processes.


·         Identify Technological Efficiency Opportunities.  The Information Technology (IT) Committee met quarterly to identify areas of inefficiency and make suggestions to the Commissioners.  The county’s website was identified as a key project for 2014 and a thorough vendor screening process occurred last quarter 2013 with the website redesign slated to be complete by mid-2014.



FOCUS AREA 3:  Communication, Collaboration, and Accountability


·         Encourage involvement and improve communication to our citizens.  This was accomplished through more public meetings, especially facilitating visits to our community by key elected officials throughout the State of Indiana.


·         Leaders from across Dearborn County participated in a feedback session with Lt. Governor Sue Elspermann in 2013.  It was a productive session that, not only provided the Lt. Governor with insights into the challenges and priorities unique to Dearborn County, but also fostered communications across a diverse group of leaders across the county.


·         Work on more positive feedback and appreciation to County employees.  The first-ever “Public Service Recognition Week” was held in April 2013 and included motivational speakers, ice cream sodas, pancake breakfast, and visits from our elected officials to speak to our employees at no expense to taxpayers.


·         Improve communications internally and across county departments; including fostering collaboration, teamwork, and sharing of information/ideas.  Regular emails were distributed to employees and department heads apprising them of the Commissioners activities and soliciting more input/feedback.  A 2013 “kick-off” open house was conducted offering department heads the opportunity to learn more about the Commissioners priorities for 2013.


·         Address performance deficiencies, set expectations, and hold all direct reports accountable for planning and results in their respective areas.   As we entered 2013, all direct reports of the Commissioners were required to report on their successes for the prior year and identify goals for the coming year; including ways the Commissioners can help them be successful in their position in the coming years.


·         Improve our effectiveness through the Boards we appoint.  The Commissioners and County Administrator more actively attended various board meetings, updated Board-related ordinances to ensure compliance, made board appointment changes as necessary, and reviewed minutes of meetings to ensure they were well-informed about their activities, priorities, and challenges.  County Attorney, Andrew Baudendistel, assisted in updating several ordinances related to various boards that were outdated; ensuring compliance with Indiana state statutes.


~ 4 ~


·         Fire & EMS Challenges – The Commissioners took definitive and quantifiable action steps toward resolving the financial, volunteer shortage, and run coverage issues facing our volunteer Fire & EMS units to ensure their viability over the long term.  This remains an ongoing challenge but new relationships and teamwork exists between the county and these vital organizations and volunteers.  With support of County Council an additional $100,000 is being invested in a program geared at improving volunteer response in 2014.


·         Reduce Worker’s Compensation claims and improve loss ratio to avoid premium increases above national and regional trends.  Human Resources and the Commissioners office aggressively reviewed workers compensation claims and were able to (through diligence in 2012 and 2013) avoid the county being placed on a higher risk (and much more expensive) workers compensation premium.


·         Increase Commissioners’ involvement in and communication with 911 Communications Board, EMA Board, and ensure a better understanding of disaster preparedness.  The Commissioners became and continue to be very active in these boards and have educated themselves more “proactively” as to the county’s preparedness for disasters and emergencies.  The Board has worked much more closely with Bill Black/EMA and the 911 Communications department and 911 Board to raise awareness and address any concerns.




·         A much-debated jail addition and renovation was funded and construction began in 2013.  A new design team, including a new Architect and Construction Manager, toured other jails for best ideas and practices in jail construction.  Committee meetings were held and prioritization was performed in the design process.  This diligence resulted in a better model and facility design.  Through the support of County Council, the project was deemed necessary and was funded at $10.4 million.  The county was fortunate to have saved over many years and did not have to incur additional debt expense for the project.


The new facility provides an additional 216 beds, the ability to classify inmates (keeping lower risk individuals together), flexibility to utilize cells versus dormitory housing as a behavior-modification tool, and addresses liability issues associated with overcrowding.   If trends and projections hold true, the facility will respond to inmate housing needs for the next 20 years and possibly more.


·         The unsafe structures across from the courthouse (known as the Votaw and Shumway buildings) were demolished and a parking lot was added to make access to parking at the government offices better for citizens and employees.




·         $1.3 Million was spent on paving which included McCann, Sawmill, Trojan, and Ennis Ridge Roads in 2013.

·         North Dearborn Road Reconstruction project east of SR-1 by Hiltz Road, started in 2012 and completed in 2013.

·         Bridge #34, Short Ridge Road started and completed in 2013.

·         Bridge #49 Ester Ridge Road, started and completed in 2013.

·         Bridge #102 North Dearborn Road, started and completed in 2013.

·         Bridge #41 Lake Tambo Road, started and open to traffic in 2013 will complete in spring 2014.

·         Annual line striping was done to improve safety and visibility on several county roads.

·         Efforts to explore potential roadways that may assist in economic development were initiated through a study proposed for 2014 in partnership with OKI.

·         A study was sponsored in partnership with the City of Greendale, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Greendale Redevelopment Commission to analyze traffic patterns on Route1 & Bellevue.  The goal is to develop opportunities to improve congestion in that area.  Study will be completed in 2014 with findings presented to INDOT.

~ 5 ~


This Board of Commissioners and the County Administrator invested significant time in 2013 getting out into the community.  This included open community visits with our legislators, increased involvement and communication with our municipal partners, one-on-one time with our fire & EMS units, and increasing our visibility in the tri-state region; such as OKI (our regional municipal planning organization).  Of particular note was success, through a major partnership with the municipalities and this region’s legislators, in stopping unfavorable riverboat funding legislation that would have had a major short and long term financial impact on Dearborn County.

For the first time in history, a Dearborn County Commissioner (Kevin Lynch) was appointed to the OKI Board of Directors.  Indiana is now recognized as a true tri-state partner and we are working more collaboratively with OKI on potential projects in our region.  New relationships are being forged across the river; recognizing that we can help one another by looking toward projects that benefit the entire region. 

The Commissioners stepped beyond traditional boundaries and orchestrated a very successful regional Job Fair in partnership with Congressman Luke Messer’s office (September 2013).  Over 150 potential employees and 36 employers took part with an hour prior to public opening dedicated to allowing focused time with employers and local Veterans.

Late in 2013, the Commissioners along with leaders in the municipalities announced a renewed focus on visioning the future of Dearborn County together.  The process is currently being refined and more details will follow in 2014.  The goal is to capitalize on what makes our community so unique and improve the overall quality of life in Dearborn County.


We believe 2013 was a very productive year.  It was a year that allowed the current Board of Commissioners to lay a foundation and identify their key values and priorities to secure the future of Dearborn County.  This could not have been accomplished without a quality partnership with County Council, the Justice System, Law Enforcement, all our Boards, Elected Officials, and many others across the community. 

We look forward to continuing this work through 2014 and invite Council members and/or citizens to share their feedback and ideas at any time directly with any one of us or the County Administrator.  It was truly a pleasure to serve our County in 2013 and to be a part of this positive momentum for Dearborn County.

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