MCED organization needs transparency
Tuesday, July 10, 2012 10:00 PM
It's amazing that in a predominantly Republican community, it almost appears that elected leaders seem to think big government is the answer.
Take the issue of Montgomery County Economic Development.
For years, the City of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County contributed money - your tax money - to MCED for economic development.
By everyone's estimate the money put into MCED has not achieved desired results of late. Over the last few years, jobs have decreased and the fiscal health of the county has faltered.
Is it all the fault of MCED? Of course not. There is a thing called the Great Recession that has affected the country.
City and county leaders are to be commended for telling the MCED board, "Look, there are some things that need to be fixed" and then giving MCED not only a list of problems but a calendar of deadlines.
The MCED board has been responsive and is working through a process with the goal of finding a new executive director with the skill sets to do the job.
The problem is this: County Commissioners are considering an increase in the County Economic Development Income Tax which would raise property tax contributions to MCED from the current $75,000 to $425,000.
All the while, the plan's architect Commissioner President Phil Bane, insists it is not a spending increase because the Local Option Income Tax would be reduced. Bane insisted that this is not an increase in spending.
That is incorrect. Once again, the plan is to increase monies given to MCED from $75,000 to $190,000; to increase economic development spending from less than $100,000 to $425,000. Only when it comes to tax dollars can government officials say that is not an increase.
In essence, this is a tax shift. In plain and simple terms, it is shifting tax money from income tax to property tax.
Why county officials won't just come out and say that is a mystery. It was even more disturbing during Monday's meeting when citizens who are opposed to this were not given a chance to speak until after the vote was taken.
Multiple citizens spoke out against the plan. This newspaper applauds them for doing so. It would be better for the Republic if more taxpayers did so. However, we would not agree with their assertion that government should not assign any money to economic development. This newspaper has long supported the idea of sending some of our government officials on economic development recruiting trips. We support responsible government spending to spur economic development. We support the points made in the White Paper that city and county government agreed on.
What we do not support is blind government spending. We doubt that Commissioners Phil Bane or Terry Hockersmith, two men who run businesses, would throw a large amount of money at a problem in their own business without a definite plan and strategy. Yet that's exactly what this preliminary budget is, a large amount of money with no definitive plan that may or may not result in taxpayers spending more money. It seems interesting that the commissioners are now saying they want regular progress reports from MCED. Why hasn't that been standard procedure before now? Again, if it were a private business, no responsible owner or manager would give money away without a definite accounting of what they get for their investment.
It's time for government to stop working that way.