The title of this post was the subtitle of the December 2007 report from the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform. Seven people (led by co-chairs Joe Kernan and Randy Shepard) took six months to listen to Indiana residents, pour over past studies and reports, and determine that the structure of local government in Indiana is a mess.
While they did issue 27 recommendations, few in power were admittedly ready to act. After all, the top three issues in the 2008 General Assembly were property taxes, property taxes and property taxes. One of the results of property tax reform is less money for local government operations. Now, maybe even those entrenched in the current system will realize we can’t continue to conduct business as usual in a system that was set up in the 1850s.
Indiana has more than 3,200 local units of government and nearly 11,000 local elected officials. Over 400,000 people don’t have access to public library services. Public safety is at risk due to ineffective communications between safety agencies. An Evansville Business magazine article recalled a prospective downtown business owner in that city having to attend 27 meetings in 15 days in the attempt to get his company off the ground. That’s ridiculous.
It’s not the people within the system who are at fault; it’s the structure that prevents them from operating most effectively and efficiently.