COUNTY NEWS: Health trust fund transfer; farmers market permit approved; sewer board allows residents to connect; volunteer board appointments approved

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Fund gets cash infusion to cover health care

The Brown County Council has approved a resolution that would allow Auditor Beth Mulry to transfer $500,000 to a health trust fund for county employees’ health care costs.

The money is coming from the county’s rainy day fund, and it’s needed to ensure there is enough money in the trust, Mulry said. As of July 11, the fund had $312,000 left. “We’ve already spent almost a million and we’re in July,” she said.

The health trust fund was established earlier this year. The county is self-funded; it provides its own health plan instead of purchasing one from an insurance company. The county has been surprised in past years by large health care bills for its employees and their families and has had to find money in other funds to pay those costs. The concept of a health trust fund aims to reduce those surprises.

The resolution proposed moving $79,917.94 from the CAGIT certified shares fund to the rainy day fund, which depleted the CAGIT fund.

Moving $392,000 from the county general fund into the rainy day fund was also approved. Then, $92,034.88 was moved from a BMV account fund to the general fund. Mulry said the general fund had a surplus.

Farmers market vendors get permit price break

The Brown County Commissioners voted to amend an ordinance that would create a $25-per-year fee for vendors who sell temperature-controlled items at local farmers markets.

The Brown County Health Board had suggested a $100-per-year fee — and even that was a price break from the previous rules.

Under the previous ordinance, those vendors were required to pay $50 a day to sell in Brown County. In addition, they were required to pay a $30 business license if selling at the farmers market in town, a $15 application fee and $12 a day for space. That totals about $1,300 for fees and licensing for 26 weeks, SEED Brown County Executive Director Torrie Birkemeier said.

“That ordinance was written when guys were going through the county selling steaks out of coolers,” commissioner Diana Biddle explained. “When this was written, we weren’t thinking about farmers markets.”

The purpose of the fee was also to compensate local health inspectors for checking on vendors.

“We were excited to take the $100 fee, even though we knew it was very high in comparison to other counties,” Birkemeier told SEED Brown County members.

Representatives from the Nashville Farmers Market and the Bean Blossom Farmers Market had asked the commissioners to set the fee at $50 to be more comparable to other counties.

“Right now we have the potential of losing vendors because it’s not worth their time economically to come out here,” said Alley Muir with the Nashville Farmers Market board.

“The number of customers decline because we have no variety of food. We’re not a one-stop shop.”

The $25-per-year suggestion was made by commissioner Jerry Pittman, and it passed unanimously.

Birkemeier called the amendment a “huge win” for farmers markets and a broader effort to promote local foods. She said it will mean more vendors can come into Brown County to sell at farmers markets.

Sewer board allows county residents to connect with town

The Brown County Regional Sewer Board met July 18 for the first time since the majority of its board resigned in May. Their topic of discussion was whether or not to allow three county residents to hook onto the town’s sewer system.

The Town of Nashville sent a letter to the regional sewer board asking to allow the three homes at Old State Road 46 and State Road 46 East to hook on. The homes are owned by Josh and Lisa Stargell, Michael Magner and Hannah Alton; all attended the meeting.

The Stargells had gone before the town council in June asking how they could hook onto town sewer. Their septic system is failing and they’ve been paying hundreds of dollars a month to do “pump and haul” with a waste disposal company, they said.

Their neighbor, Parkview Church of the Nazarene, is on town sewer.

In June, the Nashville Town Council voted to work with the homeowners to get them attached to the system “in a timely and cost-effective manner” if the regional sewer board approved it.

The sewer lift station was installed at Parkview Church of the Nazarene by the church. Magner said that Town Utilities Manager Sean Cassiday was willing for the town to take over maintenance of the lift station if the request was approved. He said he would talk with Cassiday about finalizing that agreement.

The town’s letter to the regional sewer board also included a request to OK the town providing Hard Truth Hills brewery and distillery on Firecracker Hill with sewer service.

The sewer board approved that request.

The sewer board does not have any sewer lines in the ground at this time, and so far, it has been focusing on Bean Blossom as the first area to be served.

Debbie Larsh was elected as president of the board, Michael Leggins as vice president and new member Judy Swift-Powdrill was picked as the secretary.

County approves volunteer board appointments

The Brown County Council approved appointments to three boards on July 17.

  • Judy Swift-Powdrill was appointed to one of the two open spots on the Brown County Regional Sewer District Board. She is also the Brown County Recorder. In her letter of interest, Swift-Powdrill said she believes that without access to water and sewer, a community will not thrive. She called inadequate and failing septic systems a public health threat. Council president Dave Crister said he did not want to fill the other open spot in case the regional and Helmsburg sewer districts merge, which could require one member from the Helmsburg sewer board to serve on the Brown County board. Commissioner Diana Biddle, who was in the audience, said that if either Helmsburg or Nashville decide to join the regional district, the county could state how many members they want on the board. The council chose to put Swift-Powdrill in the seat with the longest term, which ends Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Richard Gist was appointed to the Brown County Parks and Recreation board. He said in his letter of interest that he has volunteered to coach multiple parks and rec sports. He owns two businesses and manages the Pine Room-Muddy Boots in Nashville.
  • Jim Kemp was appointed to the Brown County Redevelopment Commission. He lives in Van Buren Township and owns a registered investment advisory company. “It appears to me we have a trust issue going on in the county,” he said. “I’m not coming in with any preconceived notions; I’m not going to make judgments. We’re all in this thing together.” As a motorcyclist who uses the county roads, Kemp said one thing he would like to do is find a way to secure more funding for infrastructure.

 

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.