COUNTY NEWS: Commissioners engage firm for five-year financial plan; survey responses needed

The Brown County Commissioners have entered into a contract with Umbaugh & Associates to create a five-year financial plan.

Commissioner Diana Biddle said the cost of the study would be between $17,000 and $20,000.

The commissioners had planned for this when creating their 2018 budget, she told the audience at the Jan. 17 commissioners meeting.

During budget hearings last summer, $70,000 was cut from the proposed $100,000 for professional services, like engineering and financial planning, leaving just $30,000 for all such services.

Biddle said she was not aware of the county having done a five-year financial plan before now.

“I think it’s a good idea. We always talked about transparency and it certainly gives an outside opinion of our financial picture,” she said.

Biddle said that Umbaugh & Associates would give presentations to the commissioners on their findings.

Commissioner Jerry Pittman said sometimes, the commissioners have to seek out professional help and guidance. “Financing is certainly one that is very, very important to all of us because it’s your money, my money, our tax money,” he said.

“We have to spend some money to make sure we spend our money properly and have a solid financial plan for our county.”

Biddle said the commissioners should have data by the time preparations begin on next year’s budget in early summer.

Community improvement survey responses needed

The Hometown Collaboration Initiative steering team is still seeking about 300 more responses to a survey about what local people would like to see improved in Brown County.

The survey asks about the local economy, leadership and “placemaking.” Placemaking deals with amenities such as parks, entertainment options and culture.

The responder is asked how strongly he or she agrees — or doesn’t agree — with a series of statements, such as “Local leaders are responsive to the needs of all people who live in our county” or “I have access to high-speed internet.”

It also asks participants to rank the top three economy, leadership and placemaking concepts they’d like to see improved in Brown County.

In addition, it asks how likely the responder is to remain in Brown County for the next five years.

Survey participants can remain anonymous; only general demographic information such as age and education level is collected.

The HCI is a mostly state-funded process of learning about one’s own community. The goal of the all-volunteer, local HCI team is to improve one specific part of Brown County, but that project hasn’t been chosen yet.

The survey will be open until Tuesday, Feb. 20. It is available online only at

To learn more about what the HCI team is doing, search for “Hometown Collaborative Initiative Brown County” on Facebook. New participants are welcome to join in at any time. The next team meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12 at the Brown County Public Library.

A community forum to discuss the survey results and gather more input has been set for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 7 in the Brown County Intermediate School cafeteria.