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Commissioners upset by the town council’s lack of communication

By John Estridge, Editor
Franklin County Commissioners met with Brookville Town Council in October 2018 over the proposed purchase of the Brook Hill Golf Course by the town and a proposed annexation of the area surrounding the golf course.
And that was the last time the commissioners have heard any facts regarding the potential purchase of golf course by the town and a subsequent annexation of the area around the golf course. Commissioners spoke about the situation near the end of their meeting Tuesday morning, March 5.
“We hear rumors,” commission president Tom Wilson said. “I haven’t seen any numbers set in concrete by anybody, not even a map.”
The map is a bone of contention for the county commissioners as the town council pledged to supply the commissioners with a map of the proposed annexation area. But in the last five months, Brookville Town Council members have not engaged the commissioners in any way, shape, form or fashion. There has not been any communication.
Wilson said the proposed annexation and subsequent costs to the town’s taxpayers dwarf the purchase of the golf course for $1 million.
“And now they’ve proposed all this annexation, which is probably as big as the (current) town,” Wilson said. “Now, you’re talking $15 million. If you annex that area up there, 130 homes, if you added $1,000 on each of their taxes, that’s $130,000. That wouldn’t pay for the interest on a $15 million bond to put sewers and everything they need.
“If they had bought the golf course, I think they could’ve paid that off in a few years,” Wilson said. “I can understand they want a broader tax base. To me (annexation) does not make any sense. And we haven’t seen any numbers.”
“Or a map,” commission vice president Tom Linkel said. “They said they were going to get back with us on the map. That’s what bothers me. We haven’t seen it.”
According to Wilson, this situation has split the town’s inhabitants in half regarding the golf course purchase and proposed annexation.
“I think it’s split the town in half: Half want it and half don’t,” Wilson said.
A person from the audience asked the commissioners if they knew who made up the LLC, which is going to purchase the golf course and hold it for about a year before the town purchases the same property. None of the commissioners knew the LLC members’ identities.
“I don’t know who the LLC is or what they’re doing,” Wilson said. “We have seen nothing in concrete: no numbers, not even an appraisal or what it’s going to cost to run a sewer. Right now everything is rumors.”
Linkel again brought up the map and the lack of communication.
“In the joint meeting (October 2018) that evening, we agreed not to oppose them,” Linkel said. “The only thing was it was said the map would be brought back to us for our blessing, and it has not.”
“I hear it (the map) keeps changing,” Wilson said.
Commissioner Gerald Wendel said to have the town purchase a failing business sets a bad precedence.
“The way I understand it the town buys a business like this that’s not doing well – I know they want a golf course – it’s kind of a bad precedent to start for every business that fails,” Wendel said.
“That’s up to the taxpayers,” Wilson said. “They’re the ones who are going to foot the bill. It’s not just the ones in the annexed are who are going to pay for it. It’s the whole town.”