Report: Township Surpluses Keep Growing

The Evansville Courier & Press continues to nail the true reason for township reform — unnecessary (and costly) duplication of government services. Here’s an excerpt from today’s editorial with a link to the full opinion piece and Sunday’s original article detailing the latest questionable tactics:

But the issue for today is current township government, which is not without its questionable practices. Eric Bradner of the Courier & Press Capitol Bureau exposed such an issue in November when he reported that township governments statewide were sitting in late 2008 on $215 million in surpluses, much of it intended for emergency poor relief.

That’s money that township trustees are to use to help people who need short-term help, say for filling prescriptions or keeping the electricity turned on. At the time, a number of trustees said they were spending much more on emergency relief in 2009 because of the impact of the recession on constituents.

But on Sunday, Bradner reported that financial records indicate otherwise. He said that now, the most recent audits show the statewide township surplus has grown to $263 million among the state’s 1,006 townships.

For example, in Barton Township in Gibson County, in 2009, the township collected $60,000 in taxes, spent $35,000, with the surplus growing to $256,000.

And in German Township in Vanderburgh County, some $291,000 in taxes was collected, $271,000 was spent, increasing the surplus by $20,000 to $164,000. But none was spent directly on poor relief. There, the trustee, Fred Happe, reported referring 20 constituents to other sources of help.

… the pressure would still be on Indiana lawmakers to address the issue of township government, mainly its need, but also the outdated system which allows for the accumulation of millions of taxpayers dollars, especially when state and local governments are challenged to meet basic needs.

It is an election year. Ask the candidates, especially those for state legislature, what they think about township government and whether there might be a better way to administer emergency relief paid for with your tax dollars.