Now that the election is over, I wanted to share with you some information on the referendum regarding township assessors. Both before and after the election, several persons questioned me about this referendum.
Their questions led me to believe that many persons were understandably confused about this issue. The referendum on this year’s ballot did not involve elected Township Trustees like me. The question pertained to elected Township Assessors only.
Large townships like Wayne have both an elected Township Trustee and an elected Township Assessor. Smaller townships have only one elected Township official, who until recently was both the Trustee and Assessor.
While I serve as the elected Wayne Township Trustee, our elected Wayne Township Assessor is Bev Zuber. We have separate offices, hers in the City-County Building and mine at 320 East Superior Street. Ms. Zuber’s duties and mine are very different too.
Her main area of responsibility involves assessing properties in Wayne Township and all the tasks that accompany those assessments. Of course, the main function of my office is to help low income individuals.
Last year, the State Legislature passed a law moving the assessment duties from the Trustee/Assessors in the small townships throughout the state to the County Assessors. The Trustee/Assessors in these townships then became Trustees only. This included most of Allen County’s townships.
However in the larger townships, the legislature decided to let the voters decide whether to keep the elected Assessors. In Allen County, the three Townships affected by this referendum vote were Wayne, St. Joe and Aboite.
You probably have heard by now that voters in Wayne Township voted to keep our elected Assessor, while voters in St. Joe and Aboite Townships decided to eliminate their elected Assessors and transfer the assessing duties to the County Assessor. Those Townships, like the smaller ones, now have only an elected Trustee.
We might think that the vote of the citizens of Wayne Township to keep our Assessor is the final word on the issue. But, unfortunately, this very likely is not the case. Several organizations and some government officials want to ignore the voice of the people and eliminate our township assessor anyway. They also are pushing for elimination of all township government.
I suspect this issue will be brought up again in this year’s session of the state legislature. Township government provides many unique services, which can be handled best only by townships.
That is why keeping our township government in place is so important.
I will keep you up to date on further developments regarding township government. If you have any questions about this issue, please feel free to contact me at my office or stop me if you see me at an event.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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