Lebanon's FAILED "Vision"
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A community controversy exists in Lebanon between the Greater Lebanon Community Vision Committee (http://www.lebanoncvc.org/CVC/Welcome.html) and citizens who favor orderly growth that pays for itself. Lebanon is primarily a bedroom community where most citizens want an affordable place to live that supports orderly municipal growth without extravagant tax subsidies and utility rate increases that support developers.
The stated purpose of the developer-dominated GLCVC "is to mobilize the community to successfully make Lebanon a Ďdestination communityí for the benefit of all of Boone County." The 2010 Lebanon Schools Referendum supporters website defined what the GLCVC means by "destination community" with the statement that "We need to be able to attract the RIGHT new residents to our community, young professionals and families who will pay to purchase homes and support our community." There is a controversial implication that many existing older and lower-income Lebanon citizens are WRONG for the community. One wonders if the ever-increasing taxes and utility rates are meant to serve a dual purpose by not only supporting the dreams and schemes of the GLCVC to attract the RIGHT new residents but also by forcing out the WRONG old residents.
Listed next is a review of some past and current "vision" missteps.
1. Lebanon Public Library
Lebanonís "vision" FAILURE began on February 26, 2003, when the Lebanon Library Board voted 6 to 1 to renovate the existing Library and construct a 3-story, 29,000 square foot addition at a cost not to exceed $8 million. Details about the over-built Lebanon Public Library can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/lebanon_public_library.htm.
2. Lebanon Municipal Building
Lebanonís "vision" FAILURE continued on August 25, 2003, when the Lebanon City Council (following the Mayor's lead) voted unanimously in favor of a $6.5 million bond issue for a new municipal building project. Details about the over-built Lebanon Municipal Building can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/municipal_building.htm.
3. Family Meals Tax
On September 29, 2005, the Lebanon City Council imposed a new 1% sales tax effective November 1, 2005, on food and beverages sold in Lebanon restaurants. The total sales tax on family meals in Lebanon is now a whopping 9%. Details about the extremely regressive Family Meals Tax can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/family_meals_tax.htm.
4. Lebanon I-65 Corridor Annexation
On September 8, 2008, the Lebanon City Council approved the forced annexation of 3,675 acres in an area roughly half a mile on either side of Interstate 65 from the southern city limits to just north of Indiana 267. Watchdog Indiana opposed the I-65 Corridor Annexation because (1) the tax and utility payments of existing residents would increase significantly, (2) sufficient pertinent information has not been obtained and communicated to the public (3) Fishers-like residential and retail sprawl would be created, (4) tax abatements would be given to yet more providers of low-pay and low-benefit jobs, (5) the political motivations are not compelling, and (6) the perceived economic benefits do not justify the tax, utility, and lifestyle costs. The first significant tax increase from the FAILED I-65 Corridor Annexation came when the Indiana Department of Local Government responded to a request from the Lebanon City Council and approved a $447,383 Lebanon Excess Property Tax Levy for each or the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 years. Details about Lebanon's I-65 corridor annexation can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/I-65_corridor_annexation.htm.
5. 2010 Lebanon Community Schools Referendum
GLCVC members helped lavishly fund a "political campaign" in support of a $40 million capital projects Lebanon Schools Referendum that narrowly passed in 2010 by a 2,784 to 2,749 vote. Among the reasons identified to oppose the Referendum was the fact that realistic student enrollment projections did NOT justify the $10.4 million expense of building eight new classrooms so Lebanon High School can accommodate 47% more students. The GLCVC believes a build-it-and-they-will-come high school with all the "bells and whistles" will attract high-income families to Lebanon's FAILED I-65 Corridor Annexation. The GLCVC refuses to recognize that no extravagant high school spending will change the reality that high-income families are NOT likely to choose the moderate-performing Lebanon schools with their high percentage of students with free and reduced price lunches over the high-performing Zionsville schools that have few students with free and reduced price lunches. Details about the 2010 Lebanon Community Schools Referendum can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/the_whole_truth.htm.
6. Lebanon High School "Conference Center"
A $500,000 expenditure was made by the Lebanon Redevelopment Commission in 2011 for a build-it-and-they-will-come 9,600 square-foot "conference center" at Lebanon High School. There are sufficient Lebanon Business Park TIF funds to retire the remaining TIF debt and terminate the TIF district, which would lower all Lebanon property taxes by at least 5.5 percent (and lower all Boone County property taxes by a lesser amount). If the Lebanon Mayor refuses to let the Lebanon Redevelopment Committee terminate the Lebanon Business Park TIF district, he should at least use his personal "municipal piggy bank" to alleviate the ever-increasing taxes and utility rates from the FAILED I-65 Corridor Annexation instead of "doubling down" on the build-it-and-they-will-come nonsense.
7. New Lebanon Fire Station
Using bonds issued by the Lebanon Redevelopment Committee, a new fire station was built in 2011 for $2,634,579.67 (including land acquisition) at 975 Lasley Drive with the build-it-and-they-will-come hope that development would be triggered in the nearby FAILED I-65 Corridor Annexation. The old fire station at 201 East main Street, which was centrally located near a high concentration of existing residents, was left without any equipment to fight nearby fires in the middle of the city.
8. Indiana 39 Bridge Decorative Panels
The Lebanon Redevelopment Commission has spent $1,176,306.58 for agricultural-themed translucent panels that will be installed on a new Indiana 39 bridge over I-65. There is an absurd notion that these decorative panels will help "attract high-quality businesses and new residents to our city."
9. Lebanon Indianapolis Avenue "Gateway" Project
The City of Lebanon is proceeding with a "federal-aid project to improve Indianapolis Avenue and create a gateway into the community." The Lebanon Gateway Project is a "letís try something" first-impression improvement gamble that takes money away from other higher-priority Lebanon infrastructure needs. The $8.3 million total project cost ($6,267,244 from federal gasoline tax dollars and $2,053,401 from local funds) almost equals the $11.1 million it costs the state to build a new I-69 mile from Evansville. The total costs from local funds for the entire Lebanon Gateway Project would be more than twice as much as what Lebanon normally spends in a year on all its transportation budget. In addition, there would be greater than normal annual expenses to maintain the appearance of the "gateway" median and rain gardens. It is silly to assert that "beautifying" one of the six major entrances to the city would be the first impression "tipping point" that results in sudden municipal growth. Details about the Lebanon Gateway Project can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/lebanon_gateway_project.htm.
10. Lebanon Utilities Electric Rate Increase
Lebanon Utilities has petitioned the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to approve an electric rate increase. There would be an overall electric rate increase of 17.3%, with residential customers suffering an 18.6% increase. The typical residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month would see their monthly electric bill (including sales tax) increase from about $98 to $116.
Because the Lebanon City Council, as expected, "rubber stamped" the Lebanon Utilities electric rate increase petition on February 27,2012, an Objection to Cause/Docket Number 44142 will be submitted to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
It is not right for ANY portion of the Lebanon Utilitiesí requested rate increase to be approved for unneeded build-it-and-they-will-come electric infrastructure within the FAILED I-65 Corridor Annexation. The Lebanon Utilities assertion that the last electric rate increase was 17 years ago is misleading at best and a purposeful manipulation at worst. Details about the Lebanon Utilities 2012 electric rate increase can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/lebanon_utilities_electric.htm.
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This page was last updated on 04/07/12 .