Courthouse photo by Anna Riback
                                  Courthouse photo by Anna Riback

    The League of Women Voters of Brown County is a nonpartisan cadre of local men and women committed to education and improvement of Brown County, State and National government.  Everyone is welcome to participate. 

    Meetings are held at 10:00 am, the second Monday of every month, in the lower level of the Brown County Public Library.

    Democracy is not 

    a spectator sport!


    Health Report on Brown County 


    During the fall semester of 2012, the IU Kelley School of Business assigned four graduate students to work with Brown Countians for Quality Health Care.  The students interviewed many local health providers and decision-makers to try to determine the barrier to full health coverage in our county and suggest solutions. 


    The Brown County League of Women Voters fully supports this effort, in keeping with the state and national positions on health care.  Several of our League members are also part of Brown Countians for Quality Health Care.


    Click HERE to download a copy of the Final Report.

         




    September 13 - Courthouse project fails with Brown County voters, property owners

    The Brown County Commissioners' attempt to seek financing for renovation and expansion of the historic Brown County Courthouse has failed.

    By Friday afternoon, Sept. 13, four days after the petition/remonstrance process ended, signatures for and against the estimated $6.5 million loan had not been certified. But Brown County Clerk Beth Mulry and Auditor Glenda Stogsdill announced in a news release that "the outcome of the petition and remonstrance process is clear." Less than 200 signatures were gathered in support of the proposed project, while more than 800 signatures against it had been verified as of 1 p.m. Friday.

    "Both offices will continue to work through the certification as quickly as possible," a news release reported. "Final signature counts will be released when the certification is complete."

    Read reaction to this news in the Sept. 18 Brown County Democrat.

    William C. Lloyd / LLOYD LAW, LLC


    Brown County League hosts community conversation on Courthouse renovation


    League of Women Voters President Julie Winn moderated a panel discussion and audience questions about the proposed renovation of the Brown County Courthouse on July 25.  The County Commissioners have expressed their intention to proceed with a project to remodel and add on to the historic building.  The proposed project, designed by architect Burt Perdue, is estimated to cost about $6.5 million including demolition and architect's fees, requiring the County to borrow as much as $8.5 million to cover interest as well. In May, more than 200 voters signed a petition demanding that the project be submitted to the public for consideration under Indiana's remonstrance procedure.  A second round of signature collection, pro and con, will begin August 8. If the remonstrance (the votes opposed to the project) prevails, the commissioners must wait a year to reconsider or proceed with "a substantially similar" project.


    About 60 people attended the conversation, which was held at the high school auditorium.  On the panel were Commissioner Joe Wray, County Council President Dave Critzer, Indiana Landmarks Community Preservation Specialist Laura Renwick, Town Council president Bob Kirlin and former commissioner Bill Austin.


    Before taking remarks from the panel, stakeholders in the courthouse renovation spoke about their needs.  Judge Judith Stewart cited lack of ADA compliance, tight jury facilities and lack of security when jail inmates come to trial as major considerations.  County Clerk Beth Mulry spoke of crowding, declining storage space for records, time lost traveling to the sheriff’s department to retrieve records, and lack of insulation around old windows, enabling sills to serve as refrigerators. Prosecutor Jim Oliver referenced lack of space for offices and meetings and lack of privacy for victims and juvenile defendants.


    No one disagreed that the courthouse needs work.


    Julie asked the panel for a tally of all county debts to date. Dave Critzer said we owe $6.7 million on the law  enforcement building and $2 million on a road loan, which will be paid off in 2015.  That is when twelve years of payment on the courthouse loan would begin.  Critzer emphasized that if we wait a year, prices and interest will go up.  He also said the cost will extend beyond the life of the debt, as maintenance of the building will be ongoing.  He explained that for homeowners with a homestead deduction, the increase in home taxes will be as low as $23 per $100,000 value of their homes (though it would be closer to $60 per $100,000 without that deduction).


    Joe Wray explained the commissioners’ choice of Perdue’s plans over previously submitted plans by Steve Miller (at closer to $3.5 million two years ago) by saying architects are selected on a rotating basis.  (Click HERE to view/download architectural plans.

    Laura Renwick said county courthouses are traditionally the heart of a community and should remain the seats of government, and that the exterior of the courthouse need not look unified as long as the original part of the building retains its historic look.   Bob Kirlin’s main concern was having a downtown restroom for visitors.  Bill Austin openly opposed the Perdue plan due to its cost, and suggested a creating a long-term plan for all county buildings.


    Audience participants, including Sheriff Followell, brought up the possibility of building an annex near the jail for trials of inmates and storage of records.  Remodeling the Brown County Inn for county use was briefly considered.  General concern over the cost of this project was expressed.  The meeting lasted almost three hours.


    The next step begins on August 8, when interested people may pick up forms at the clerk’s office in the courthouse and begin gathering registered voter signatures in support of the courthouse plan (petitions) or against it (remonstrances).


    They have until Sept. 9 to turn in the forms, after which the clerk must verify the signatures before Oct. 14  Whichever side gathers the most signatures will prevail.