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Governor Pence Authorizes Bonuses of up to $1,000 to State Employees

29 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Governor Pence has authorized one time, end of year bonuses to be paid to State employees. The bonuses of up to $1,000 will be based on performance reviews to be completed in January. The Governor states that the bonuses are in lieu of pay raises and will not affect the budget. We would love to hear your opinions, is this sound fiscal policy? Sound off in the comments section.  

Here is the Governor’s letter to State of Indiana employees:

Fellow State Employees,
As 2013 draws to a close, I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for your service to the people of Indiana over the past year.
Through the efforts of dedicated State Employees like you, Hoosiers continue to receive quality service and support when interacting with our state government. Indiana is strong and growing stronger due, in part, to the commitment you exhibit every day in service to the public.
Because of your efficiency and commitment to fiscal discipline, Indiana leads the way with a balanced budget, AAA credit rating and a reputation for sound fiscal management.
While our present circumstances do not permit us to increase base pay, because your service to Indiana has been exemplary, I have authorized a bonus that you will receive once performance evaluations are completed in January.
Employees who meet expectations will receive a $500 bonus, those who exceed expectations will receive $750, and those rated outstanding will receive $1,000.
I hope this news will be an encouragement to you for a job well done in 2013.
Thank you for your service to the good people of Indiana. It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve alongside men and women like you.
God bless you and your family with a memorable holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Sincerely,
Governor Mike Pence

Gov. Pence Names Rep. Suzanne Crouch State Auditor

16 Dec

Gazette Staff

 

INDIANAPOLIS—Governor Mike Pence today announced Representative Suzanne Crouch as Auditor of State for Indiana.  She will complete the term held by Dwayne Sawyer which runs through 2014.

“Suzanne Crouch has a lifetime of experience and a heart for public service,” said Governor Pence.  “Suzanne’s fiscal leadership in the Indiana General Assembly, her distinguished public career in local government, and financial background will be valuable assets to our state.”

Crouch served two terms as the Auditor of Vanderburgh County, and was president of the Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners. She was elected to the Indiana General Assembly in 2005 and serves as Vice Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Auditor of the State has four primary duties: accounting for all of the state’s funds; overseeing and disbursing county, city, town and school tax distributions; paying the state’s bills; and paying the state’s employees.

Crouch received her degree from Purdue University.  She is married to Larry Downs, and they have one daughter.

Erin Sheridan, the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Auditor, is serving as Auditor on an interim basis until  January 2, 2014.

Gov. Pence Announces Indiana Maintains AAA Credit Rating

5 Dec

Gazette Staff

Indianapolis, IN – Governor Mike Pence today announced that Indiana has maintained its AAA credit ratings from all three bond agencies: Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings. Indiana has held AAA ratings with all three agencies since April of 2010.

“Fiscal discipline is the foundation of our prosperity,” said Governor Pence. “Today’s news is a testament to the hard work and discipline of State employees at every level and the fiscal leadership of the Indiana General Assembly. In the years ahead, our administration remains committed to maintaining a fiscally stable environment within our state for the betterment of both Hoosier families and businesses.”

Gov. Pence, Supt. Ritz Issue Joint Statement

27 Nov

 

 

Indianapolis, IN – Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz yesterday agreed to have the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) facilitate a conversation among the members of the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) regarding roles, responsibilities, and the operations of the Board.  Under the leadership of Superintendent Ritz, Indiana re-joined NASBE earlier this year.  Governor Pence and Superintendent Ritz also discussed the Center for Education and Career Innovation (CECI).

“I am grateful to the Superintendent for her willingness to work with my administration to address the challenges and opportunities for Hoosier students, teachers and schools. I also appreciate the Superintendent’s willingness to work with members of the Indiana State Board of Education and NASBE to resolve differences that have arisen on the board,” said Governor Pence.

“Since the last meeting of the State Board of Education, I have said that the Governor and I needed to work together directly to address recent issues that have arisen,” said Superintendent Ritz.  “Yesterday’s meeting was a first step towards that goal.  I believe the Governor now has a clearer understanding of my concerns regarding the CECI, but much work remains to be done.”

 

State Auditor Sawyer Resigns After Just 4 Months in Job

26 Nov

Gazette Staff

 

In a prepared statement, Governor Pence announced the resignation of State Auditor Dwayne Sawyer.  Sawyer was appointed to the position just four months ago.  At the time, Pence cited Sawyer’s expertise in computerizing public records.  Sawyer cited personal reasons for his resignation.  No further details are available at this time.  The full text of the Governor’s statement follows:

Indianapolis, IN–Governor Mike Pence announced that he accepted Dwayne Sawyer’s resignation as Auditor of State, and offered the following statement:

“I have accepted Dwayne Sawyer’s resignation as Auditor of State effective December 15, 2013. His reason for resigning had to do with personal and family circumstances, and I respect his decision to step aside. Hoosiers can be assured that Mr. Sawyer’s resignation had nothing to do with his fiduciary responsibilities for the state or his execution of his duties as Auditor. This office will always be grateful for Mr. Sawyer’s service and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Dwayne Sawyer stated in his letter of resignation, “Due to family and personal concerns, I have come to the conclusion that it will be in the best interests of my family and the people of Indiana whom I have been honored to serve that I resign from the office of Indiana auditor of state.”

Mr. Sawyer’s letter of resignation can be found attached.

Letter_of_Resignation

 

Gov. Pence Named Vice Chair of National Board for Jobs for America's Graduates

25 Nov

Gazette Staff

Indianapolis, IN – Governor Mike Pence was recently named Vice Chair of the National Board of Directors for Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG).

“Jobs for America’s Graduates is an extraordinary organization that has made an impact on increasing access to both education and careers for at-risk young people across the country, including right here in the Hoosier state,” said Governor Pence. “As an advocate of ensuring career pathways in education for all of our students, and especially those most at-risk for dropping out of school, I am truly humbled by the invitation to serve on the Board. I look forward to helping to better and brighten the futures of America’s and Indiana’s youth in this role.”

Pence joins Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who serves as the Board’s Chairman, as well as Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, fellow Vice Chairs, on the Board.

About JAG
Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) is a state-based national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who are most at-risk. In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping nearly three-quarters of a million young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities.

Pence Makes Multiple Board Appointments

21 Nov

Gazette Staff

Indianapolis, IN – Governor Mike Pence today named appointees to the Commission on Higher Education, the Horse Racing Commission, the State Ethics Commission, the Indiana Arts Commission, the Commission on Ports, and the Housing and Community Development Authority Board of Directors.

Commission on Higher Education

Caren B. Whitehouse of Vanderburgh County has been named to the Commission on Higher Education. She currently serves as Executive Director of the Vanderburgh County Medical Society. Whitehouse serves on the Pulmonary Fibrosis Board of Directors, the Healthy Evansville Steering Committee and the Vanderburgh County Perinatal Task Force. She is a graduate of the University of Evansville and Oakland City University. She will serve through June 30, 2015, effective immediately.

Horse Racing Commission

President and Chief Executive Officer of Pillow Logistics George E. Pillow Jr. will serve on the Horse Racing Commission. Previously, Pillow, of Marion County, served as Assistant Executive Administrator for the Department of Health and Human Services. Pillow was a 1984 recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash and has been inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the Indiana State University Hall of Fame. A graduate of Indiana State University, he will serve through September 1, 2015, effective immediately.

State Ethics Commission

Bob Jamison, retired from the New Albany Office of the FBI, Daryl Yost, Director of the Certified Technology Park of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center, and James Clevenger, Partner at Wyland, Humphrey, Wagner & Cleveland have been reappointed to the State Ethics Commission. Clevenger will continue to serve in his role as Chairman, and the appointees will serve four-year terms through October 31, 2017, effective immediately.

Indiana Arts Commission

Allen C. Platt III, of Floyd County, will serve on the Indiana Arts Commission through June 30, 2017, effective immediately. Currently Counsel at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP, Platt is the 2004 recipient of the Arts Council of Southern Indiana’s Heartbeat Award. He is a graduate of Indiana University and Valparaiso University School of Law.

Jonathan Ford, of Vigo County, and Linda S. Levell, of Knox County, have been reappointed to the board and will serve through June 30, 2017.

Commission on Ports

Ramon Arredondo has been named to the Commission on Ports. Arredondo, of Lake County, retired in 2005 as Assistant to the Chairman at NiSource and has extensive experience working in both local and federal government positions. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida. Arredondo will serve through June 30, 2017, effective immediately.

Housing and Community Development Authority Board of Directors

Patricia Gamble-Moore, of Herron’s Fiduciary Committee, Thomas McGowan, President and Chief Operating Officer of Kite Realty Group Trust, and Lula Porter, Executive Director of the Evansville African American Museum have been reappointed to the Housing and Community Development Authority Board of Directors, effective immediately.

Abandoned Homes or Abandoned Homeowners?

1 Nov

by Ken Davidson

 

Gary IndianaThe Gazette reported on the IHCDA plan to assist Gary and other Cities in the elimination of abandoned homes earlier in the week. You can see that story Here in case you missed it. This is the second in a series of articles examining what got Gary to the point that there are an estimated ten thousand abandoned and vacant homes throughout the city.  Most homes in Lake County are assessed by the County Assessor.  In Calumet Township, that is not the case.  As discussed below, the office of Calumet Township Assessor Jackie Collins is responsible for assessing the values of homes in Griffith, Gary and parts of unincorporated Lake County.

The Mayor attributes the problems in Gary, in part, to the foreclosure crisis. The foreclosure crisis is a national problem that plagues nearly every urban area in the country. Gary, however, was hit less hard by the foreclosure crisis than any other city for two reasons. First, there was never a real estate bubble in Gary, Indiana. There was not a time when homeowners refinanced their homes and took large amounts of cash out because the values never rose rapidly. Second, Gary has a higher rate of homeowners with no mortgage than any other city in Lake County and probably the state.  State Senator Earline Rogers made no  comments regarding the cause of the crisis other than to refer to Indianapolis as the “Hoosier Holyland” which suggested to me that she blamed downstate lawmakers for the problems.

The Mayor and Senator Earline Rogers fail to mention the other likely reasons for the number of abandoned and vacant homes in Gary. We examined the lack of city services in a prior article (you can read that Here ). Lets talk about the taxation issues and how they cause homeowners to flee the city.

First, lets understand how properties are assessed in Indiana. The general assembly passed a law that allowed residents in certain townships to choose to keep or eliminate office of the township assessor. This was done by a referendum in 2008. The overwhelming majority of townships in Indiana who were given the choice eliminated the office of township assessor and county assessors are now performing the duties of assessing those areas in a more efficient manner. The voters of Calumet Township chose to keep their township assessor. That office is currently held by Jackie Collins.

This is the office that has failed to keep the Gary Housing and City of Gary properties off the tax sale rolls even when notified that the parcels are owned by a government agency. The City is now spending tens of thousands of dollars on private attorneys to retrieve hundreds of units that were erroneously taxed and sold. The same office that allegedly used public funds to send out flyers telling Gary residents that they may lose tax credits (statutory tax credits which are provided by the State of Indiana) if they did not vote to keep the office open. And this is the office that is responsible for determining the fair market value of land, buildings and personal property for all of Calumet Township.

Ralston Street was mentioned as one of the streets that received little in the way of City services at the IHCDA meeting, so I thought I would take a look at the tax values on Ralston. If we start at the corner of 24th and Ralston is one of those evil out of town landowners that was discussed by the politicians at the meeting. The home is assessed at $148,900. With a Gary Sanitary District Fee of $60 and a Little Calumet River Basin fee of $45, the total annual tax bill is $5,830.00.

Across the street, still at the corner of 24th and Ralston is an owner occupied home. It is assessed at $58,000 and has a homestead deduction (no mortgage deduction by the way). The total tax was $2008 last year but dropped to about $931.00 this year. There are late fees of $432.17 on a delinquency of about $1100.00 In order to avoid tax sale and stay in this home, the taxpayer had to pay $2067 in the first installment this year. The second installment of taxes due now is $443.39.

As you continue down the block, you finally get to some properties that seem to be properly assessed. INS Incorporated owns a home at the end of Ralston Street that is assessed at $12,000. There are others that show taxes in the range of $700 last year. No explanation as to why one homeowner, on the same block, paid nearly 3 times the tax last year and then was hit with another $432 in penalties.

The wild fluctuations in values from year to year and similar properties together with ever increasing fees have caused many homes in Gary to go to the tax sale. Even at the tax sale many homes remain unsold even for the amount of the delinquent tax. The market is that bad in Gary. People are not even buying homes for $2,000; yet residents are being charged that much and more for one year’s worth of taxes.

Pence Appoints Freeman-Wilson, 23 Others to Transportation Panel

23 Oct

Gazette Staff

Indianapolis, IN – Governor Mike Pence today named appointees to a Blue Ribbon Panel to plan the next generation of transportation infrastructure in Indiana.

The Panel, which was articulated in Pence’s Roadmap for Indiana, will review projects related to all four modes of transportation: water, air, road and rail. Based on the metrics they will develop, the Panel will identify a list of priority projects over the course of the next ten years. In the long term, the group will explore and monitor innovations in transportation infrastructure to keep Indiana on the cutting edge.

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and Cathy Langham, President of Langham Logistics, will co-chair the Panel. Additional Panel members include:

  • Mike Cline, Purdue University
  • Richard Conner, American Structurepoint
  • Mike Daigle, St. Joseph County Airport Authority
  • Mark DeFabis, Integrated Distribution Services, Inc.
  • Chip Edington, OSP Group
  • Dennis Faulkenberg, Appian, Inc.
  • Andrew Fox, Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad
  • Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, City of Gary
  • Pete Georgeon, ArcelorMittal USA Flat Carbon
  • Mayor Tom Henry, City of Fort Wayne
  • Mark Holden, A&R Logistics
  • Scott Jones, ChaCha
  • Douglas Joest, Evansville-Vanderburgh Airport Authority District
  • Chris Matney, Indianapolis Airport Authority
  • Hank Menke, OFS Brands
  • Don Miller, Mt. Vernon Barge Service
  • Bob Palmer, AGFS of FedEx
  • Don Sansone, Red Gold, Inc.
  • JR Saylor, Brightpoint, Inc.
  • Zack Scott, UPS-Ohio Valley District
  • Noah Sodrel, Sodrel Truck Lines, Inc.
  • Mark St. Clair, Consolidated Grain & Barge Co.
  • Phil Terry, Monarch Beverage Company
  • Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, City of Evansville

Indiana Housing Agency to Host Forum on Abandoned Homes

23 Oct
Gazette Staff


The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and a group of bi-partisan elected officials including Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and State Senator Earline Rogers will host a public forum to address blighted, vacant and abandoned homes.  The forum will be held October 28, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.
Public forum to be held October 28, 2013 at 6 p.m. in Gary.  The event will be held at the YWCA of Northwest Indiana, 150 West 15th Avenue, Gary, Ind.

The Hardest Hit Fund is a national program available in 18 states and the District of Columbia. Indiana was awarded more than $221 million under the Hardest Hit Fund and is targeting low- to moderate-income homeowners whose primary residence is in any county in Indiana. The State of Indiana, through IHCDA, is exploring the use of a portion of the Hardest Hit Funds to demolish blighted and abandoned homes that are beyond repair. The goal is not simply to demolish abandoned homes, but to stabilize property values in Indiana communities. The proposed partnership between IHCDA and Indiana municipalities would allow communities to demolish blighted properties and offer a variety of end uses for the newly cleared properties including green space and redevelopment. IHCDA, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, IHCDA's Board Chair, Mayor Freeman-Wilson, Senator Rogers and Senator Merritt believe that the demolition of abandoned and blighted homes would be a significant step toward rebuilding Hoosier communities. Since IHCDA's announcement that it was exploring the use of Hardest Hit Funds to eliminate blighted and abandoned properties, many have expressed concern that doing so might detract from the mission of helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. IHCDA would like to reassure the public that it is committed to using the majority of Hardest Hit Funds to help individual homeowners in need. As of September 30, 2013, more than 2,250 homeowners have received approximately $24 million in Hardest Hit Fund mortgage payment assistance; and another $49 million has been set aside to provide mortgage payment assistance to approved homeowners currently enrolled in the program.
If you are unable to attend the public hearings, please submit written comments to feedback@ihcda.in.gov<mailto:feedback@ihcda.in.gov> by Monday, Dec. 2, 2013.