After a lull in the talks of annexation, the Brookville Town Council voted to move forward with a feasibility study at its Sept. 8 meeting.

At a previous town council meeting, a question was asked about the status of the feasibility study. BTC president Mike Biltz said at a certain point prior to the pandemic, they had a meeting about doing a feasibility study. However, the pandemic happened and everything sort of stalled, so they were bringing up the discussion again to decide what to do.

Board member Curtis Ward said they had previously discussed the study going back through the minutes of old meetings, but the motion seemed ambiguous on whether or not they approved the feasibility study and what they were moving forward with. Ward said the purpose of bringing it up again was trying to clear up that ambiguity and potentially moving forward with the feasibility study.

A member of the public opposing the annexation, Carla Hacker, made a comment about an email exchange between Ward and Tim Brack obtained through a public records request. According to Hacker, the email made mention of a feasibility study being completed. Ward clarified the email Hacker was referencing was something Brack had sent to him and that, to his knowledge, a feasibility study had not been completed.

Biltz offered his thoughts on the feasibility study saying there has been a lot of misinformation from all sides; he thinks the people in the annexation areas as well as the town need to find out how much it is going to cost the town. The feasibility study would also let the town know whether or not they could even afford to pursue annexation. It would also give the correct information to those who choose to annex. Biltz suggested doing this study through a third party.

Hacker added that it would be nice if everything could be open as it would lead to less confusion.

Ward clarifies that some people want the information from the feasibility study before they decide whether they are for or against the annexation. Biltz said the town was the only entity to step up with a plan of action to save Brook Hill Golf Course. He added he was personally still a believer in saving the course, and also thinks there are ways it could be saved without annexation but hasn't seen the people who could made that happen volunteer to do so. He said the goal is not so much annexation, as it is saving the golf course but they also have to take care of the town. 

It was repeatedly stated the town will not annex without the golf course and will not buy the golf course without annexation. 

Hacker brought up the issue of still not knowing exactly what the town wants to do to the area that would be annexed. Ward went on to explain the purpose of the feasibility study. 

“It tells us black and white are we able or are we not able to annex,” said Ward. 

Then would come the fiscal plan where it talks about how the town is going to annex and what they can do within that three-year period including some of the things they've already talked about such as common-sense ordinances. What is not included in the fiscal plan is day-to-day operations. Either way, annexation would occur first and the purchase of the golf course would come second. 

Ward said as far as a plan, the town could tell the people impacted, what they do like to do in that area and what would be possible financially within a three-year period. He added it would likely remain a golf course and if not, it will be greenspace. 

“I guess my feeling is you have to know all the facts before you can vote,” said Biltz. 

Ward made the motion to move forward with and conduct a feasibility study for annexation. 

Ultimately, the town could do the feasibility study and find that it is way out of line with what the town can afford. There is currently not a timeframe for the feasibility study. 

Ward also made a motion in reference to the suspension of questions regarding annexation. He wanted to amend to the motion to allow questions to be posed that town attorney Tammy Davis had the ability to answer. These questions would still need to submitted prior to BTC meetings. The questions would then be sent to Davis and the town's annexation consultants in Indianapolis. Ward added that the local turnaround should be within a couple days.