Letters to the Editor

Voters being misled by Gahan

Either Mayor Gahan doesn't understand the role of the county government in regard to the county's budget, or he is intentionally misleading the public. I've seen his campaign flier that incorrectly describers the role of the county commissioners in the budgetary process for Floyd County government. These misrepresentations are too numerous and outrageous for me to remain silent.

First, the commissioners are not the fiscal body for the county. That's the county council's responsibility. The county council sets the budgets for ALL county government, including the commissioners' budget. Remember that all units of government are required under Indiana law to have a balanced budget.

Second, the county doesn't and has not borrowed to balance its budget. The county receives funds from many sources, including property taxes, income taxes, local taxes, state distributed funds, gaming funds, federal and state grants, and investment income. These funds are more than enough to cover the county's budget. The suggestion that the commissioners as a group, let alone Mark Seabrook as a single member, borrowed $4.5 million/year to balance the county's budget is false. Again, the county commissioners don't have the authority or the responsibility to balance the county's budget and the county has not borrowed to balance its budget. Mayor Gahan knows this.

Third, with regard to the jail tax, the county council passed this tax, as they were the only government authority authorized to do so. At the time of this vote, all three county commissioners were opposed to the jail tax, preferring instead to use funds on hand to pay for the project. At no time did Mark Seabrook speak in favor or support this tax. Mayor Gahan knows this.

Fourth, Mayor Gahan has suggested that the county's finances are in bad shape. He's wrong again. The county has over $85 million in investments and is expected to receive the final payment of $25 million in the near future from the sale of the hospital .... $110 million seems to me to be financially sound. Mayor Gahan knows this too. He also knows that the county's general fund balance last Dec. 31 totaled $410,000. The City of New Albany, with a budget almost twice the size of the county, ended 2018 with $8,600.

If the mayor is so concerned about the public's money, why has he pursued a frivolous lawsuit against the county over the matter of who owns the City-County Building, costing our citizens over $500,000 in attorney's fees? And this doesn't include the legal fees the city is incurring. As a consequence, New Albany taxpayers get hit twice. I have yet to discover why the mayor has taken this action.

I'm asking Mayor Gahan to end the baseless and misleading attacks on Mark Seabrook, a good man and a good public servant. The citizens of our city and county deserve better.

— BILLY STEWART

President, Floyd County Commissioners

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Dem chair responds to GOP chair

Shawn Carruthers, the Floyd County Republican chair, recently penned a letter to the News and Tribune repeating Mark Seabrook’s false and misleading statements about the City finances, all while crying foul that Democrats are standing up to Republican lies and correcting the record.

It’s past time that we correct the record, because New Albany residents deserve better — and they deserve the truth.

Over the past few months, Mark Seabrook has never shown or articulated a vision for New Albany. Mr. Carruthers himself started this campaign cycle by weirdly proclaiming, “We’re coming for the Mayor’s office.” And Mark Seabrook, when asked about why he is running for mayor, simply said, “It’s my time.”

So what do you do when you have no vision, and your leadership record is marred by financial mismanagement and overspending? You project your faults onto your opponent, which is what Mark Seabrook is doing. Mark Seabrook, as county commissioner, overspent budgeted line items so badly — $4.5 million — that the State Board of Accounts cited Floyd County in multiple audits. And now, he is projecting his faults against Mayor Gahan, and trying to mislead voters into thinking the city is broke.

This is simply not true.

Carruthers, in his letter, even conceded that the city is not broke. The State Board of Accounts audit and Indiana Gateway clearly shows $39 million in cash reserves with no findings, no material weaknesses, and no deficiencies in city accounts. Yet, Mark Seabrook and his team are still lying.

Carruthers and other Republicans know Mark isn’t telling the truth. Their own city council members — Aebersold, Barksdale and Knable —receive the bank statements monthly and just last month approved the Gahan’s 2020 budget.

A good fiscal steward should only budget what is needed to support city services annually and not more than is necessary to operate and provide for public services. The question we as citizens should be asking is why [Commissioner] Carruthers, who cited that the County’s general fund had a surplus of $400,000 last year — is over-taxing county residents?

The truth is this: Under Mayor Jeff Gahan’s leadership, the city has operated under a balanced budget for seven years straight. We now have an A+ financial rating and $39 million in cash reserves. All of this has been accomplished with NO NEW TAXES.

That’s the truth – and that’s why voters should re-elect Mayor Jeff Gahan and keep moving New Albany forward.

— ADAM DICKEY

Chair, Floyd County Democratic Party

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Caesar an active city councilman

I'm writing to express my support for Bob Caesar as Councilman for New Albany's 2nd District. I have personally known Bob Caesar for the past several decades and first came to know him through his business, the former Endris Jewelers on Pearl Street. I could always count on Bob to be an honest professional and returned to him because of the trust I developed in his work.

Since his election to City Council, I have watched him put forward the same honest, hardworking expertise on behalf of our city and his constituents. He played a significant role in the celebration of New Albany's Bicentennial, has helped our community develop public infrastructure improvements, and has advocated important measures such as changes to our planning and zoning code. Every time I have an issue or question regarding the city and its services, Bob has provided me quick answers or otherwise addressed my concerns.

I appreciate Bob's hard work and dedication for our community and will be voting to re-elect him in this election. I encourage others to do the same and keep a good man in office.

— NICK STEIN

New Albany

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Make ferry part of Greenway project

Maybe the New Albany voters will be interested in this plan, New Albany’s Mayor and the head of the River Heritage Conservancy didn’t seem to be very interested.

The most interesting development in New Albany, Jeff and Clarksville in recent years has been the Greenway project. Based upon what I have read over the years, the next phase of the project will run along the Louisville riverfront and eventually connect back to New Albany via a bridge, the Sherman Minton or the K & I. The problem is, the K & I has been closed to the public for years and it many never be opened again. Adding a safe lane for pedestrians on the Sherman Minton Bridge would be extremely expensive if it could even be approved.

My plan is ferry service from Portland’s riverfront straight across the Ohio to the foot of downtown New Albany at the Greenway. If you have read anything about Portland and New Albany, you know we have done this in our past; why not again? And guess what, we already have a company located in New Albany (HMS Global Maritime) that owns a ferry boat company (HMS Ferries).

— ROBERT G. POWELL, NAHS Class of 1962

Bonita Springs, Florida

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