Boone Commissioner receives state award

Submitted photoOUTSTANDING SERVICE: Indiana Association of County Commissioners president Nathan Gabhart (right) presents Boone County Commissioner Jeff Wolfe with an IACC award.

The Indiana Association of County Commissioners (IACC) selected Boone County Commissioner Jeff Wolfe to receive the “2018 Outstanding Legislative Service by a Commissioner” achievement award. The award is in recognition of his contributions made to the promotion of county government issues to the State Legislature.

Prior to and during the 2018 General Assembly, the IACC says Wolfe was invaluable to the lobbying effort for community mental health center funding. His dedication in gathering legislators and stakeholders was key to the success of the favorable legislation. He led the charge in hosting a summit that gathered state legislators, county commissioners, council members, law enforcement, representatives from health departments, hospitals/ER, and mental health providers to discuss the issue.

Wolfe served as an advocate for the organization, testifying before the Senate Local Government Committee in support of the community mental health centers bill that passed this session. The bill will ensure that the mandatory county distribution to their assigned CMHC will only grow at the same rate that the rest of the county budget is allowed to grow.

For several years, these distributions were not subject to tax cap loss the way that the rest of county government was. The bill addresses that inequity while making sure that CMHC funding continues to be provided at a time when mental health and addiction services are so important to our communities.

Also, the bill requires increased reporting to both the county and the state so there is a higher level of comfort that the distribution is being used appropriately.

Additionally, Wolfe has worked tirelessly this year in advancing changes in reforming the property tax assessment appeals process for what is now known as the “big box appeal” dilemma that many counties are dealing with that is shifting very large amounts of the tax burden from vacant large department stores on to homeowners and increasing the circuit breaker losses to local government.

The achievement award was given during the IACC’s 2018 annual conference, the largest gathering of county commissioners in the state. The three-day conference included several workshops and breakout sessions on county related topics, following the conference theme of “Shaping Tomorrow Together” where they discussed all areas of local government and focused on jail overcrowding, workforce development, emergency preparedness, open door laws, county highway projects, and more.

Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt, Sheriff Mark Bowen, EMA Director Shane Booker, and Executive Director of Communications Mike Snowden were the keynote panelists at this year’s conference. Attendees learned in this session how emergency planning, exercising, and preparedness shaped an effective coordinated response to the tragic Noblesville West Middle School shooting incident.