In our May meeting, City Council was tasked with one of its more important annual decisions: how to designate our proceeds from the Rising Sun Quality of Life Endowment Fund located within Ohio County Community Foundation. In 2000, the City of Rising Sun started an endowment. The rationale behind the endowment was to have it available to supplement City revenues if revenues ever significantly decreased. This would allow us to help maintain our very modest tax rate we’ve all come to enjoy. In essence, we created a retirement account for the City.
The initial endowment contribution was $1,000,000. I’m proud to say through the resolve and support of all City Councils and Mayors that have served since 2000, and through the investment advice given by our Plan Administrator, we have been able to grow the account to $15,046,045. This portion is the non-spendable endowment. In March, OCCF Executive Director Peg Dickson notifies us that our fund made $893,000 from interest and dividends income, which is quite a return on our investment. Yes, those numbers have been higher in the past, but that’s still a wonderful nest egg we’ve built planning for the future. City Council recognized the ongoing importance of growing our Endowment Fund. As such, it settled on returning $500,000 to the Endowment to help benefit future generations of our City.
Our Council continued investing in our most precious resource- our children. Each year, any Rising Sun High School graduate after 2006 can qualify for $2,000 in annual scholarship money (for a maximum of four years) towards their college tuition at any four-year institution. To continue this benefit to the many Rising Sun High School graduates is an extraordinary accomplishment. But the educational generosity does not stop there. Any one year Ohio County resident (not even a recent high school graduate) may apply for a scholarship of $1,000 per semester (for a maximum of six semesters) towards their tuition for an Associate’s Degree at any Community College. “Living in Rising Sun, Where Education Pays” sure has a nice ring to it.
Our Council has also committed $110,000 to help our schools. These monies help our schools pay for reading programs as well as a salary for a teacher to operate those programs. There is also the Teachers Classroom Tools Fund where teachers can directly contact our Community Foundation to inquire about improving their students’ classroom experience. The program I’m most proud of which our Council has continued to address is the Back Pack Program. It is intended to help families who struggle with the rising costs of food while their living wages may not have risen proportionally. The program gives qualifying children the requisite amount of nutrition necessary for the weekends. You may not think hunger is an issue in our community but is very much present. I’m proud Council continues to use its ability to fight against hunger by supporting the Back Pack Program.
We also have sponsored programs like adult education, tutoring, certification and summer project based learning programs at our Educational Center on Smart Drive. The center offers courses to obtain a High School Equivalency, certification for hotel hospitality skills, as well as working with WorkForce One to help qualified residents obtain necessary training to be marketable in the 21st Century. Simply put, our Education Center is a tremendous community resource for our residents. I encourage each of you to contact Debbie Thomason and her staff at 812-438-2437 to inquire what programs might benefit you!
Our City has demonstrated a commitment to offering the types of programs which will improve the quality of life for all of our citizens. Our goal is to make these programs sustainable for the long term. We recognize, when given the right tools for economic growth, a community will flourish for generations to come. The continued generosity of our City Council through this Quality of Life Endowment Fund will only enhance the type of community we are and strive to be. It also takes a community willing to invest the time in itself and each other to make it better. We are happy to provide the tools to do so. We only ask you provide the desire to improve your quality of life.
Thank you all and God Bless!
Mayor Brent Bascom