Letter to the Editor

Hoping specific bill does not pass

Sunday, March 8, 2009

To the Editor:

House Bill 1730 (Green project public approval exception) passed the vote of the Democrat-controlled Indiana House of Representatives. I'm hoping that it will die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Taxpayer, what this bill does is exempt projects designed to utilize "green" technology, environmentally "friendly," from the taxpayer controlled referendum or remonstrance process, essentially stripping you of control of local spending on local projects.

From my understanding of the bill and recent events, that means that had the $53 million project that Clay Community Schools Corporation proposed in August 2007 had been subject to the provisions of HB 1730 and contained plans for the proposed $4.2 million bus garage and the $2.8 million new central office, the taxpayer would have little recourse in any attempt to stop such a project if there were "green" technology involved. (Note: I use the school project as an example because it is the project that I am most familiar with).

Think of the other possibilities, the county could build a new courthouse that costs $100 million, your town could build a $50 million town hall, the school corporation could built a twin of Northview in Van Buren Township or the Brazil Public Library could build annexes at the four corners of Brazil as long as "green" technology was involved.

Basically any bond issue that a taxing authority could reasonably afford would be left to the decision of very few people and the taxpayer could do little about it.

You can make your point utilizing public forums or letters to the editor of various newspapers, but no one has to listen or read your message. You can try to make your arguments against such spending before the board or council in control of the government in the time they allow you to comment, but they do not have to consider your argument. You can argue your position before the various property tax boards within the limited time of the hearing that they schedule, but they do not have to consider your argument in their decision, either.

The referendum or remonstrance process is really the only tool that is available to the taxpayer that can actually stop a project in its tracks. It actually does work, even though the recent remonstrance in the Clay Community Schools Corporation failed to halt that project, a referendum vote in Noblesville prevailed last January stopping a project to build a sports facility that the taxpayers felt was unnecessary.

I urge you to contact your State Senator to stop this bill from becoming law and contract your State Representative to suggest that the use of "green" technology be written into building codes or laws setting minimum "green" standards within Indiana instead of laws that exempt projects from control by the public.

Leo L. Southworth,