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Lawmakers Hear Township Elimination Bill

February 12, 2009

Supporters and opponents of a bill to eliminate townships in Indiana had their say at the Indiana statehouse Wednesday in a hearing before the Senate Local Government Committee. The bill, which started as a provision of the Kernan Shephard report on local government reform, does away with township trustees in favor of one, appointed executive per county. Bill author Senator Connie Lawson says it shifts all current responsibilities of township government, like poverty assistance and fire and emergency services, to be managed by county government. Supporters of the change, like Indiana Chamber of Commerce executive director Kevin Brinegar, update an archaic government structure and inequitable taxation.

“In a statewide survey of registered voters in 2007, two thirds said they did not know who their township officials were and a similar percentage stated that they have never used township services.”

Speaking for member trustees against the changes was Debbie Driscoll, president of the Indiana Township Association.

“We are accountable in that every four years, we stand for election. And although not everyone can name their township trustee, I would challenge them to name their county auditor or the members of their county council.”

The committee did not vote on the bill Wednesday though Senator Lawson says amendments will be introduced in the coming weeks.

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