Township Bill a Small Step in Right Direction

It’s no surprise that local government reform, with a focus on townships, will be pushed for during the Indiana General Assembly session — with the Indiana Chamber leading the way. An unexpected entrant into the battle, however, is HB 1181 from Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis). It will be heard in the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee this morning.

Crawford’s bill calls for a township-by-township referendum on whether trustees and advisory boards should be retained. In other words, should townships continue to exist? Presumably if the voters would say yes, it’s inefficient business as usual. If they say no, township duties would be sent to the county level (which is what should take place throughout the state).

The problem with the Crawford approach is the likely result that a county would end up with an unworkable combination of some townships remaining and others having their duties carried out by the county. The best route would be for the legislators to stand up and eliminate all the trustees and advisory boards. 

The Chamber’s Mark Lawrance will testify today that the fact that local government reform is being heard in the committee is appreciated. The elimination of most township assessors in 2008 greatly improved that process; the same can be done to improve the effectiveness and reduce the administrative costs of delivering poor relief services. If legislators do decide to go the referendum route, the votes should at least be conducted on a county-by-county basis.

Legislation in the Senate, SB 240, would not include referendums. It would eliminate advisory boards, shift township legislative fiscal and legislative responsibilities to the county council and includes anti-nepotism language to help stop the rampant employment of relatives at the township level. That bill is expected to be heard on Wednesday.

The Indiana Prosperity Project web site allows you to learn more and contact your legislators directly to ask for their support in making better use of your tax dollars and moving township services to the county level.