Finally, we are seeing some breaks in the winter weather. When we are in the midst of winter, we sometimes have a difficult time believing that spring will ever come. But spring ultimately comes, bringing with it the warm weather I look forward to every year.
Something else we can count on every year is the attempt by our Governor to convince the Indiana General Assembly to eliminate Township government. Once again, the Governor has made the elimination of Township government a priority in his legislative agenda. This time, the Governor got a less than enthusiastic response when he spoke about eliminating Township government during his State of the State address in January.
I have always believed that Townships, as the smallest unit of government, can provide the best and most efficient service for our community. That is why the Governor’s continued assault on Township Government concerns me so much. In this often impersonal and uncaring world, Township Government is one of the few entities that offers personal attention to everyone who walks in our door.
Our constituents are our neighbors, who may have lost their jobs and need help until they get another job. Others are neighbors with disabilities, who cannot work and need our help. We at Wayne Township pride ourselves in being able to address the individual needs of our residents swiftly, while avoiding the bureaucracy and red tape often involved in dealing with large entities.
When governments are smaller, elected officials can exercise more direct oversight of their operations and can be more accessible to voters. I regularly welcome everyone in our lobby in the morning by speaking with each person individually. As often as I can, I speak personally on the telephone with persons who call the Township with questions or suggestions.
As I am writing this, there are no less than 19 bills pending in the Indiana House and Senate that involve Township government in some way. These bills run the gamut from merging smaller townships to abolishing townships altogether and turning over the duties over to either city or county government.
The bill that appears to be getting the most “buzz” is one being pushed by Sen. Connie Lawson of Danville, a small town just west of Indianapolis. This bill has moved out of the Local Government Committee, of which Ms. Lawson is chair, and appears to be heading for a vote in the Senate. Senator Lawson’s Bill, S.B. 405, would not eliminate Townships completely, but would eliminate Township Boards and turn over Township budget approval to County Councils. Any cost savings from this bill certainly are questionable since County and State costs would go up when they take over duties currently being performed by Township Board members.
Further, under this bill, Allen County would have to adopt county-wide Township Eligibility Standards. One of the advantages of Township Government is that we can adopt standards that work for our particular Township. The needs of Wayne Township are very different from the small rural Townships located within Allen County. Adopting identical standards for all Townships would be a disservice to both Wayne Township and the rural Townships.
All the bills regarding Township government are available for your review on the Indiana General Assembly’s website. Additional information also is available on the Indiana Township Association website.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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