VOICE OF THE TOWNSHIP
I was honored recently to spend some time at the Indiana General Assembly. While there, I was able to meet with several Senators and Representatives, including some from our area.
Our representatives at the General Assembly are faced with an incredible volume of bills they must address. One particular bill was the focus of my visit to the General Assembly. Five other Township Trustees from Allen County also were at the General Assembly regarding the same issue.
That Bill, Senate Bill 512, would abolish township government effective January 1, 2013. It would transfer all the duties of the Townships, including Township Assistance, to the County. It also would transfer the Township property tax levy to the County.
I wrote a column a few weeks ago about why it is so important to have Township Assistance available to clients who need immediate help. I also stressed the personal attention my staff is able to give to each client.
Every client who comes to our office has a different situation. Some have just lost their jobs and need cash assistance for a short time until they can get another job. Others have been unemployed for some time and need the training and confidence our Employment Program provides to help them look for work again.
Some of our clients are unable to work due to medical problems and are trying to work their way through the lengthy federal bureaucracy to get disability benefits. Many of our clients have been unable to get state benefits for which they are eligible because of the huge backlog the state is experiencing in processing claims.
As a smaller unit government, we help our clients by scheduling appointments for them very quickly and issuing assistance on a timely basis. When a client comes into our office, he or she will meet with an investigator, a real, live person.
At the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office, clients are not put in front of a computer or told to phone a call center to file their applications. This type of bureaucracy is the last thing a person needs who is sick or has just been laid off from his or her job.
On the very day I was preparing this column, a misleading article advocating the elimination of Township Government appeared in one of our daily newspapers. This article was written by a respected member of our community.
She cited some figures in her article regarding Wayne Township administrative costs, but unfortunately her figures were way off. She stated that in 2007 Wayne Township distributed more than $1.8 million in emergency assistance, “but spent more than $3.6 million to administer it.”
That fact is in 2007 Wayne Township spent $1.9 million to administer $1.8 million in direct assistance, an administrative cost well below the incorrect figure she was using to bolster her argument. And, both our Employment and Payee Programs are included in our administrative costs. Our Employment Program provided more than 200 jobs for clients last year, while the Payee Program helped 130 clients to budget their own money so they would not need Township Assistance.
Our Country and our State face many challenges right now. What a shame it would be to lose the safety net provided by the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office for those who are in desperate need of our help.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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