Don Cooper (Taxpayer Uncertain)
Watchdog Lebanon Home Page
Campaign Contributions: January 1, 2016, through April 8, 2016
Candidate Cooper had no cash on hand on January 1. He received $1,510.00 in itemized contributions. There were $1,115.03 in itemized expenditures. The April 8 cash on hand was $394.97. There were six itemized contributions, the largest of which was $710.00 from the candidate.
Watchdog Indiana County Council Candidate Questions - 2016 Primary Election
1. What will be your public service priorities if you are elected to the Boone County Council? ANSWER: First public service priority for me is to make myself available to the public at large who seek to better understand how the local budgeting and spending process works, this is not always common knowledge. Second public service priority will be to set up my community action forum. I have pledged to give back 100% of my County Council compensation to local agencies based on need. Lastly, I would seek to take the County Council seat on the Economic Development board to assist in industry development leveraging my technology and higher education relationships.
2. Is the county spending enough of its available resources to maintain and improve the county roads in the unincorporated areas of the county? BACKGROUND: The 2013-15 State Budget made better use of the existing state Gasoline Tax and state Sales Tax revenues from gasoline purchases to significantly increase Boone County transportation funding. State revenues deposited into the Boone County Motor Vehicle Highway and Local Road & Street funds increased 38 percent from $2,900,956 in 2013 to $4,016,363 in 2015. However, only $2,888,947 was spent from the 2015 Boone County Motor Vehicle Highway and Local Road & Street funds – $1,127,416 was unspent and added to the cash reserves (the December 31, 2015, cash balances in the Boone County Motor Vehicle Highway and Local Road & Street funds totaled $2,933,169). ANSWER: Spending enough or investing enough in our infrastructure? I view spending as a wasteful process and I would question any entity spending money but challenge the investment of tax payer monies for future value. Enough is a relative term, not knowing the future demands for the investment dollars only looking backwards sometimes short term savings are necessary for longer term initiatives which require pooling of resources to maximize the investment. I personally live in a very rural area of Boone County on an unpaved road, the county highway does an impeccable job maintaining and servicing these roads in our rural area.
3. Do you support a new county-wide Wheel Tax? BACKGROUND: Indiana Senate Bill 67 passed by the Indiana General Assembly this year will increase funding for 2016 to the Boone County government units by a total of $13,044,770. A one-time additional distribution from the state’s county option income tax (COIT) trust account will provide $4,106,918 in additional county government revenue this year, at least 75% of which must be used exclusively by the Boone County Highway Department for local road construction, maintenance, and repair. In addition, Indiana House Bill 1001 passed by the Indiana General Assembly this year created a state Local Road and Bridge Matching Grant Fund, which will provide matching dollar-for-dollar grants to a county or municipality that allocates certain revenues for the purpose of increasing the capacity of local roads and bridges. ANSWER: Not knowing all of the current obligations and pressures on the overall 2016-2017 budget I believe it would be short sighted of me to make an all encompassing statement to say I will or will not support a wheel tax. What I am would be interested in better understanding is why would we need a wheel tax given the increased funding coming from Senate Bill 67 and I would push to maximize the matching funding made available from House Bill 1001 to ensure residents of Boone County are getting the most value from their Tax Dollar Investments. What I would like to better understand is how many other counties around Marion County have a wheel tax and fully understand why a wheel tax would be needed.
4. What is an appropriate level of county cash reserves compared to the county’s annual operating budget? BACKGROUND: The August 11, 2010, Boone County Comprehensive Financial Plan prepared by H. J. Umbaugh & Associates (a PDF version can be E-mailed on request) targets 15% as a prudent level of end-of-the-year Boone County government cash balances compared to annual operating funds disbursements. ANSWER: Conservative cash management is critical to maintain the necessary operating infrastructure of an efficient, progressive growing community. Ideally 12%-15% county cash reserves seems reasonable but here again it is imperative to not make short term assumptions and positioning statements as absolutes. Could I see this increase on occasion based on pending massive investment projects, this is possible as the county continues to grow and the size and scale of these investments scale as well. Good common sense with fact based decision making is what I can bring to the council.
5. Do you support a new county-wide Public Safety Local Option Income Tax? BACKGROUND: See page 77 of the Fiscal Year 2015 Indiana Handbook of Taxes, Revenues, and Appropriations at https://iga.in.gov/static-documents/f/9/4/0/f9407ace/2015%20Tax%20Handbook%20WEBPAGE.pdf. ANSWER: No I do not currently support a new county wide public safety LOIT, I would ask hard questions of the current spend and work very hard to keep from adopting a Public Safety LOIT. With nearly 50% of all Indiana Counties utilizing some form of a public safety LOIT residents of Boone County should be proud of the prudent stewardship previous council and commissioners exhibited. As the county continues to grow future fire protection needs will only become more and more challenged and require additional funding to keep up with proper safety.
6. Should property tax rate increases be avoided to (a) protect lower income Boone County residents with homes assessed below the 1% property tax cap from tax increases and (2) lessen Boone County units of government budget losses to property tax caps? ANSWER: Yes we should do what we can to minimize excessive increases to not only the lower income residents but also every other tax paying resident of Boone County. I would push to minimize any property tax rate increases and help focus on alternative ways to increase revenues to the county with minimial impact to lower income, middle income and high earners in the county. I am highly sensitive to the demands placed on residents with homes assessed below the 1% property tax cap.
7. Should better use be made of the request for proposals (RFP) process to select county government service providers? ANSWER: "Better Use" is a relative question and could be assumptive that there is a possible problem with the current process. Should our county government use RFP in some of their service providers process? Absolutely yes, can this get out of hand, yes and it does. What I would support is visibility to expenditures and transparency to public bidding processes. Additionally, I would support sourcing as much county government business supported by Boone County businesses.
8. Is the Boone County Area Comprehensive Plan a good road map for future growth that also preserves agriculture as an economic development industry? BACKGROUND: See http://www.boonecounty.in.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=65. ANSWER: A lot of work definitely went into the development of the Area Comprehensive Plan, is it a good road map? Only if it is used? From my 20 years of corporate world experience I have seen many strategic plans and road maps developed only to be put on the shelf and seldom looked at until it is time to refresh the plan. A working plan would have strategic doing as part of the future plans. After reading the document front to back I see a lot of recommendations but honestly, I am challenged to see how this directly helps preserve Agriculture as an economic development industry. Curious to know how many times this resource is accessed on the public website and how well used this plan is when making investment decisions with tax payer dollars?
9. How can the actions and decisions of the Boone County Council be more open and transparent to the public? BACKGROUND: Good examples of how to provide open and transparent local government can be found on the Town of Whitestown web site at http://www.whitestown.in.gov/. ANSWER: First and foremost the overhaul and development of a functional county website is absolutely needed. Most people go to the web to research a new car, a new home yet getting local up to date information about local government is very difficult in Boone County. My professional opinion is the Boone County website is not very well done and increasing transparency to the public starts with using the web to open up the community with fast, up to date relevant information.
10. Should the individual votes of Boone County Council members be recorded in meeting minutes so the members can be held accountable for their public policy decisions? ANSWER: Absolutely yes.
11. Should upcoming Boone County Council board appointments be announced ahead of time so interested citizens can apply? ANSWER: 100% absolutely yes board appointments should be announced prior to making appointments. To get more Boone County Residents active in local organizations or political events it is critical to get this word out there before the meetings. I am also an advocate of publishing more of this on the www (website) so people outside of Lebanon who do not get the Lebanon Reporter can keep track of Boone County Council happenings. While I believe everyone can benefit from the Lebanon Reporter not everyone has financial access to this paper we should make it super simple and easy to participate in local government and knowing what open board positions are available is a great start.
12. Who is your current employer, and would service on the Boone County Council possibly create significant conflicts related to your employment? ANSWER: My employer is PTC a public company out of Needham, MA. No my service on the Boone County Council would not cause any conflict to my employment.
13. What is your campaign phone number, E-mail address, and website (or other online presence)? ANSWER: My phone number is 317-919-8103 or my email is Donald.firstname.lastname@example.org Please feel free to call or email anytime.
14. Do you wish to make some additional comments about your candidacy? ANSWER: I am here to serve the residents of Boone County. If you are looking for a candidate who is not afraid to ask the hard questions with years of business experience yet grounded with Hoosier values, I am your candidate. I welcome the opportunity to be your at large candidate and I am asking for your vote on May 3rd.
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This page was last updated on 04/20/16.