Indy Star: Time is Now for Township Reform

We’ve been on this train for quite a while, but now it looks like headway can finally be made for Hoosier taxpayers. The Indy Star asserts:

Daniels has supported the elimination of townships in the past, but he’s never had the votes needed to make it happen. Now, with outgoing House Speaker Pat Bauer reduced to irrelevancy, the governor needs to press hard to dissolve townships, a move that would save tax dollars, reduce corruption and improve the delivery of services.

However, on this issue, the governor can’t count on the Republican caucus to remain fully behind him. Some of the staunchest defenders of the status quo — state Sen. Dennis Kruse, for instance — hail from the GOP. Kruse, for one, contends that townships should be retained because they are a prime training ground for new politicians and political workers.

It’s a shaky argument, of course, given that a majority of states — 60 percent — operate just fine without townships. But it’s one advocates for change, including the governor, must address.

The need for reform became even more critical after Tuesday, when voters gave overwhelming approval to the constitutional amendment that caps property tax rates. Township officials have been serial hoarders of tax dollars; more than $200 million was tucked away in townships’ surplus accounts when last measured. Last month, a trustee in Johnson County acknowledged that White River Township had so much money in the bank that it didn’t need to collect any property tax dollars for at least the next year. That story could be repeated around the state if other trustees were as forthcoming.