DETERMINING WHO AND HOW TO HELP – Voice Of The Township
Every once in awhile my office will receive a call or a letter from a citizen asking why somebody they know would be receiving assistance from our township. Often that citizen wants us to know that he or she thinks this person should not be getting our help for one reason or another. I take these inquiries seriously; after all I, too, am a taxpayer and I understand wanting confidence that my government is spending money wisely.
In the urban townships like Wayne, the main duty of the trustee is to provide a safety net for citizens needing emergency help paying for their shelter, utilities, food, or medicine—basic requirements of living. Indiana state law tells us what necessities we can help with and what makes a citizen eligible for that help. To comply with the law I employ investigators to interview and work with those requesting assistance.
Recently I surveyed my staff and found that, collectively, they have over 350 years of experience working for the Wayne Township Trustee Office. They are a seasoned staff for sure. In our experience we have seen that the vast majority of folks who come to our office would rather do almost anything not to have to ask for help. At the same time we recognize that, at every level of society, there are a few who would like to take advantage of a system if they can. My staff members, to do their jobs effectively, must continually walk a fine line between being hardcore investigators and giving compassionate service to people who are often in a fragile state of need. Determining who and how to help requires skill, knowledge and experience. My staff’s experience gives me confidence that they know what they are doing and are making good decisions concerning our clients.
Public confidence is the reason that the township trustee is an elected office. Every four years voters decide with their ballots whether or not they trust that a candidate can and will handle their fiscal duties responsibly. Having stood for election three times since 2006, I am very conscious of my duty to spend our tax dollars in the best way possible. The trustee offices receive the smallest portion of any governmental unit, just three cents out of every tax dollar, so my life-long reputation as a penny pincher has helped me as the Wayne Township Trustee.
In all my dealings, I like to give a person the benefit of the doubt or as they say in baseball “give the tie to the runner.” This way of life has served me well as Trustee as I am almost always rewarded with knowing that I, with the help of my staff, have been able to help someone who needed it while remaining responsible to the public who elected me.
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