Child Adult Resource Services: Maximizing Its Investment Through Compliance Resources

Teri King

Knowledge is power – and empowering. Just ask Teri King, HR manager at Child Adult Resource Services (CARS), a Chamber member since 1991 that has around 250 employees. CARS provides Head Start, group homes, employment and other services to people with a variety of needs. Headquartered in Rockville, it covers 40 Indiana counties.

“I count on the Chamber to keep me up-to-date and out of trouble,” she declares.

King shares how an email from the Chamber helped keep CARS in compliance with Indiana’s smoking ban law, which went into effect on July 1, 2012. As part of the law, businesses are required to post signage at public entrances indicating that smoking is prohibited within eight feet.

“I had missed that (component of the) law,” King recalls. “Had it not been for her (the Chamber’s Rhea Langdon, manager of business resource marketing and sales) email telling me there was new signage available, I would have been out of compliance.”

King also is a fan of the Chamber’s ePubs (“I’ve enjoyed the forms and links to different topics,” she remarks) and completed the Chamber’s human resources and safety compliance certificate programs by attending a variety of training events.

“Being a nonprofit, training dollars are very tight. Whenever I’ve submitted a training (request) to go to the Chamber, it’s always approved. Other trainings may not be,” she emphasizes.

“In HR, you get all kinds of sales calls. You get all kinds of flyers from companies that are trying to sell their stuff. I always tell them, ‘I’m getting it from the Chamber. I know I have the right stuff that way.’ ”

Transportation Funding: Current Taxes, Fees Not Paying for Highways

Transportation funding is a topic that is getting more traction (tire pun completely intended), and we recently explored the Chamber’s position on this blog, which includes comments from our own VP Cam Carter.

In fact, one of the Indiana Chamber’s legislative priorities for 2014 is development of a vehicle miles traveled pilot program. The need for such initiatives is illustrated in a new Tax Foundation study that finds just over half of state and local expenses on roads in 2011 came from highway user taxes and fees. Indiana falls below the national average.

Despite being dedicated to fund transportation projects, revenues from gas taxes and tolls pay for only about half of state and local spending on roads, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. Alaska and South Dakota come last in transportation funding derived from gas taxes and tolls—10.5 percent and 21.5 percent, respectively—while Delaware and Hawaii rank the highest—78.6 percent and 77.3 percent, respectively.

State and local governments spent $153.0 billion on highway, road, and street expenses, but raised only $77.1 billion in user fees and user taxes ($12.7 billion in tolls and user fees, $41.2 billion in fuel taxes, and $23.2 billion in vehicle license taxes). The rest was funded by $30 billion in general state and local revenues and $46 billion in federal aid.

“The lion’s share of transportation funding should be coming from user taxes and fees, such as tolls, gasoline taxes, and other user-related charges,” said Tax Foundation Tax Foundation Vice President of State Projects Joseph Henchman. “When road funding comes from a mix of tolls and gasoline taxes, the people that use the roads bear a sizeable portion of the cost. By contrast, funding transportation out of general revenue makes roads “free,” and consequently, overused or congested—often the precise problem transportation spending programs are meant to solve.”

The story is much the same even when adding other transportation options to the mix. In 2011, state and local governments spent $58.7 billion on mass transit, $22.7 billion on air transportation facilities, $1.6 billion on parking facilities, and $5.2 billion in ports and water transportation, in turn raising $13.2 billion in mass transit fares, $18.8 billion in air transportation fees, $2.2 billion in parking fees and fines, and $4.2 billion in water transportation taxes and fees. Altogether, states raised about 48 percent of their transportation spending from user taxes, fees, and other charges.

Expanding tolls and indexing gasoline taxes for inflation may not be politically popular even though transportation facilities and services are highly popular. Given that transportation spending exists, states should aim to fund as much of it as possible from user fees and user taxes. Subsidizing road spending from general revenues creates pressure to increase income or sales taxes, which can be unfair to non-users and undermine economic growth for the state as a whole.

Throwback Thursday: Remembering South Bend’s Studebaker Story 50 Years Later

December 20 marked 50 years since the Studebaker Corporation left South Bend. Our friends at Inside INdiana Business marked the occasion last week.

The South Bend Tribune also delved deep into the story, remembering the company’s contributions and the impact from its absence — an impact still felt today.

From its humble start in a blacksmith shop at Jefferson Boulevard and Michigan Street, the company grew into the largest wagon manufacturer in the world and the only one to succeed in making automobiles.

Some may feel — 50 years after news of Studebaker’s closing broke Dec. 9, 1963 — that locals still talk too much about the company.

But Carlton said people in South Bend should talk about Studebaker, not as a source of sadness but as a source of inspiration.

Studebaker is a great American success story, and it’s a South Bend story.

“It grew to be the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world,” Carlton said, “and it was completely homegrown in South Bend.”

The fundamentals that made it great are still in our town today, he said.

Honoring and learning from Studebaker’s legacy, without being weighed down by nostalgia, has been South Bend’s challenge during the past five decades.

Kevin Smith, who owns Union Station Technology Center, said too many people stopped believing in the city in the years after the automaker closed.

“We moved forward in the darkness, so to speak,” he said.

Now Smith’s hoping to rekindle the type of innovative energy that drove Studebaker for decades.

“You have to have visionary people. Vision spurs innovation, innovation becomes entrepreneurial. Then you have businesses, and that is the crux of why a community exists,” he said. “That’s what formed South Bend.”

Smith owns the last large Studebaker production building still standing in the city.

The six-story Ivy Tower was built in 1923 along Lafayette Boulevard in an area Smith is calling The Renaissance District.

He plans to connect Ivy Tower with Union Station via a tunnel under the railroad tracks and fill the 800,000-square-foot building with a mix of data centers, technology offices and residential space.

Smith sees his project as building — literally and figuratively — on top of Studebaker’s innovation.

“That whole innovative culture that built South Bend needs to be rejuvenated, and we’re going to rejuvenate it,” he said. “If we want to be a vibrant city again, we have to go back to our roots.”

‘Death in the family’

Patricia Ann Graham remembers Dec. 9, 1963.

Studebaker workers shuffled into the company’s benefits department, where she was a clerk, to fill out pension applications.

“I actually saw some of them cry,” she told The Tribune recently, “and it was all I could do to keep from crying with them.”

Sue Ann Ciesiolka, whose father was a Studebaker test driver in the 1940s and ’50s, used an analogy many have relied upon to describe their grief at the automaker ending its operations here. Production ended Dec. 20.

“When Studebaker’s closed,” she said, “it felt like a death in the family to me.”

The roughly 7,000 people Studebaker employed in South Bend accounted for 8 percent of St. Joseph County’s total employment. The average Studebaker worker was 54; 60 percent had relatives who worked for the company. It was difficult for older employees to say goodbye to the company where many had worked their entire adult lives and built their best friendships.

It also was difficult for many residents to imagine South Bend without the company, which was not just important to the local economy but a big part of the city’s identity. Studebaker started making wagons here in 1852 — 13 years before South Bend was incorporated — and the city grew up as the company became a mighty manufacturer.

Americans: Why Are We Working to Build More Debt?

It’s a four-letter word, and one I find almost as offensive as that other kind of four-letter word: debt. And while it should strike fear into the heart of every person, we just keep racking it up.

I heard one example on my way to work that was disguised as an easy way to pay for a LASIK vision procedure. Here’s my recollection of a portion of the commercial script that I found troubling:

Wife: “Go get LASIK.”
Husband: “But we can’t afford it.”
Wife: “Of course we can afford it, they have financing available.”

Uh-oh. Being able to afford something and being able to finance something is not the same thing. As a matter of fact, if you have to finance a product (that great pair of red pumps from the shoe store, a medical procedure such as LASIK eye surgery, etc.) that actually means you can’t afford it. Financing equals debt.

Here’s another alarming trend I read about recently in TIME magazine: according to a new study from CardHub.com, America is working to increase its collective credit card debt by $54 billion in 2011. The article goes on: in 2009, Americans actually reduced their credit card debt and added $9 billion in new credit card debt in 2010.

That means people were being smarter about their spending during the economic recession – or less able to be approved for credit cards. But, either way it means more people were actually living within their means.

I’m not sure where this turn-around from two years ago has come from. Possibly it’s similar to a teenager tasting his or her first bit of freedom after being grounded for a month – Americans are trying to make up for that time locked away without the ability to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

The TIME article made conclusions that the increase in credit card debt is similar to the subprime mortgage crisis of a few years ago – what many say propelled us into the recession. I’m confident that no one wants a repeat just two or three years later with credit card debt to blame this time.

Getting out of debt is not easy and it’s not quick – but the first step is to stop accruing debt: No more credit cards, no more financing.

So, someday when I get LASIK, I’ll have worked to save the money and will be able to truly afford it – no financing for me, thank you very much. What about you? Are you relying on credit cards and financing or are you working to get out of that vicious debt cycle?