Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News


November 2, 2012

Trauring: Acquiring parking lot unnecessary

Howard County government requires a reality check

Kokomo — Our county council recently voted to spend up to $850,000 of taxpayers’ dollars because there is a perceived need for 78 additional parking spaces for full-time county employees who work in the downtown area.

That expenditure will buy 120 parking spaces and an 18,000-square-foot building located one block south of the courthouse. That property currently generates approximately $25,000 a year in property taxes, which will be forfeited if the county takes title to the property.

Over the next three years, the basic additional costs for each of the 78 additional parking spaces (not including additional expenses to be incurred by the county because of its ownership of the property) will be $3,952.99 per year.

That’s right, over the next three years, the taxpayers will incur $3,952.99 per year for each of the additional 78 parking spaces that are supposedly needed for county employees to park free near the courthouse.

County Commissioner Paul Wyman, a proponent of the purchase, argues the acquisition will also allow the Howard County prosecutor to occupy needed additional space in the building on the parking lot. This supposedly makes the purchase more reasonable. Yet there has been no compelling case made to the public for expanding current space used by the prosecutor’s office.

Currently, the prosecutor’s office is located in the courthouse, where, by the way, visitors must first go through a metal detector and courthouse security. We don’t know if additional security will be needed should the prosecutor move to another building.

The prosecutor and most of his deputies are part-time public employees who have private offices where they also attend to many of their public responsibilities. In fact, I believe many of them are provided secretarial allowances, which are used to supplement the salaries of their private-practice secretaries and paralegals for work done in furtherance of their prosecutorial duties. So why the need for more space?

I fear there is no compelling need for moving the prosecutor’s office outside the courthouse.

All of this also begs the question: Do the taxpayers have a duty to provide free parking for county employees? I think not.

A few years ago, county employees were permitted to park free about the same distance from the courthouse. Many continued to park around the courthouse. In fact, some racked up substantial parking ticket fees, which was the subject of periodic news articles in the local print media.

County Commissioner Tyler Moore, who is a friend, recently was quoted as saying that fewer than 10 county employees currently park around the courthouse square. This implies there is no justifiable need for the county to acquire land so that employees can park free in the downtown area. At least it confirms there is no need to spend $850,000 to buy 120 parking spaces and a new building.

Some, including Mayor Goodnight, who has done much to improve the downtown area, believe the use of parking spaces by county employees adversely impacts economic development in the downtown area. After all, what retail business wants to locate where parking is a problem?

All I can say is that I drive to the courthouse several times each week, and I have never had a problem finding a parking place at any time between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. And since the courthouse closes at 4 p.m., parking after that is always available.

Our local government is, in my opinion, systematically ignoring long-term costs to provide a fast benefit when there really is no problem. We have heard elected county officials complain that the city’s annexations, the downturn in the economy, and the exit of many high-paying local jobs will mean the county will have to do more with less money. This is in direct conflict with the county council’s vote to purchase additional property for parking spaces and new offices for the prosecutor.

We are not short of serious future revenue problems at every level of government. Acts which ignore sensible, cost-conscious and effective government solutions are never the result of thoughtful and smart deliberations. The taxpayers of Howard County deserve better stewardship.


*Tom Trauring is a Kokomo attorney.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • State aims at outbreaks More than 200 Western School Corp. students were vaccinated for chickenpox after an outbreak in March 2012.The virus was confirmed to have infected five fifth-graders, the Howard County Health Department reported. It acted quickly to prevent the infe

    July 22, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Expiring term heightens urgency of legislator's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 22, 2014

  • LETTERS: Trust chemical, seed firms and the FDA? Trust chemical, seed firms and the FDA?Let’s see ... Mr. Don Villwock, Indiana Farm Bureau president, wants the FDA to define what genetically engineered foods are, and then he wants it to be optional or voluntary for food companies to tell consumers

    July 22, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Indiana Democrats deal with divide on education On the face of it, the battles between Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and supporters and staff of Republican Gov. Mike Pence have been a unifying force for Indiana Democrats. But the scrapping has exposed a deep rift within the party o

    July 22, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Is Evan Bayh contemplating another gubernatorial run? This could be the saga of “LeBron Bayh.”Like a thunderhead brewing in the distance, you could see this one coming. This was the progression: former state Democratic Chairman Dan Parker announces he will not become a candidate for mayor of Indianapoli

    July 21, 2014

  • LETTERS: Show support where you spend money Show support where you spend moneyReinvest in your community. It is something you hear often, but what does it mean and how do you effectively do it?Thankfully, there are people in our community who can give six-figure donations to projects like the

    July 21, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: Please go away already My wife is planning our summer vacation, which we will take in the fall. We took our spring vacation this summer. We got behind in 1984 and still haven't caught up. I don't have much input into the planning of these trips, but Mary Ellen did assign m

    July 21, 2014

  • WEEKLY WRAP: All of Indy must step forward All of Indy must step forwardIt has been a brutal week, one filled with violence, suffering, mourning and reflection.The brutality began on the night of July 4, when two women were shot and wounded on the Eastside. Police found 30 bullet casings in t

    July 21, 2014

  • Testament to our youth We hear complaints — all the time — from campaigning politicians, TV pundits and lobbyists peddling “family values.” The federal government, they say, has “taken God out of our schools.”God never left. Not here. Kokomo City Hall, the United Way of Ho

    July 20, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Internet, and future of communication One morning, I was chatting with some retired folks and the subject of paying bills on the Internet came up. One woman said she disposed of her computer years ago and pays her bills by mail. I commented she could get by just fine doing that. The othe

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.