Two candidates are running for Kosciusko County Council District Four. They are Republican incumbent Jon Garber and Democratic candidate Dan Damron.
The Mail-Journal contacted both candidates and asked each two questions. The questions and the candidate’s responses are as follows.
Garber retired from Warsaw Parks and Recreation Department in 2011 with more than 37 years of service. He has held the seat as district four councilman since May 2012.
Q: You have been on council for two years, what have you contributed to District Four and what do you plan to address regarding your area if elected?
Garber: “I was elected by party caucus in May of 2012 to fill the unexpired term of fourth district Councilman John Kinsey, who died while in office. The financial powers of the county are placed on the county council. We are responsible for appropriating all funds for use by the county and all its departments. It has been my stated goal to see that services required for my constituents are provided in the most efficient and effective way, putting ‘needs’ ahead of ‘wants.’ Because of the hard work and dedication of fellow councilman, department heads and county employees, Kosciusko County is rated as the number one county in the state of Indiana as having the lowest total county certified tax rate. (Source: Association of Indiana Counties 2014 Annual County Fact book). If elected to serve again, I pledge to work for the continuation of efficient and effective government, promoting ‘needs’ over ‘wants.’”
How are the towns in District Four planning to spend the money receive from the $25 per vehicle wheel tax imposed? Will taxpayers be able to see the effects?
Garber: “At the June 19, 2014, special meeting of the Kosciusko County Council, the council approved by ordinance the establishment of a county excise surtax and wheel tax. With revenues available to counties shrinking from sources such as the state fuel tax, and with rising cost of maintaining our roadways, it became imperative that the county look for additional funding sources.
“Beginning in 2015, the BMV will start collecting the excise surtax and wheel tax. It is estimated that over a years’ time, approximately $680,264.00 will be collected for distribution to cities and towns in Kosciusko County (county government should get approximately $1,771,472.00). Indiana Code dictates the manner and time in which the tax money is to be distributed to the county treasurer and deposited into a wheel tax fund. The county auditor is responsible for distributing the money to the 13 county taxing units (cities and towns) in Kosciusko County. It will be the responsibility of the fiscal governing body of those taxing units to decide how they spend the money. Indiana Code specifically states that the funds may only be used to ‘construct, reconstruct, repair, or maintain streets and roads under its (taxing unit) jurisdiction.’ As those funds accumulate for the cities and towns, I would expect the taxpayers to see improvements in their roadways.”
Damron has lived in the county since 1967 and retired from INDOT with 15 years of service. He has also been a small business owner for 18 years.
Q: If elected what issues do you plan to address for your district?
Damron: “I have a lot of good ideas. Our infrastructure is in big trouble. I think I could find ways to cut cost without having to make taxpayers keep paying.”
The wheel tax was a debated issue this past summer. Councilman Fussle opposed the tax and voted against it. Others felt it was their only option. What would you have done if you had been on council?
Damron: “I would have opposed it all the way. I would have taken an in depth look for other ways to cut spending. I have 15 years experience working with the highway department and its budget. I can help to keep from overspending. I received an award from the state for ideas I had on cutting cost for snow removal. The money from the wheel tax will be collected next year. The county will not see the money until 2016. We’re going to have to find ways to survive until then.”
Additionally, Damron stated, “The county has been working with old equipment for a long time. They have trucks down during winter storms and a crew with nothing to do. New equipment is needed for public safety and to cut costs.”