INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Nearly a third of Indiana’s 1,005 townships would be forced to merge with
others under a plan proposed by House Republicans.
All townships with
populations of less than 1,200 people would be consolidated into others
within five years under the legislation announced Thursday, The Indianapolis
Star and The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette reported. It would affect 309
townships, mostly in rural areas.
House Speaker Brian
Bosma said the move could eliminate as many as 1,200 elected officials.
Townships are run on a day-to-day basis by a township trustee and governed
by three-member advisory boards that set policy and tax rates, among other
Every person still
would be served by a trustee and a board, and township services including
administering poor relief would continue, said Deborah Driskell, executive
director of the Indiana Township Association. Money would be saved by
reducing the number of advisory board members, who must have liability
insurance and in most cases receive payment for their service, she said.
Also, residents of
small townships might receive better firefighting and emergency medical
services from mergers that enable them to combine their tax bases, she said.
“As it is written
right now in the preliminary draft, we support it,” Driskell said
Gerig, trustee of Allen County’s Jackson Township trustee, opposes the
consolidation. She has served as a trustee for 12 years and earns $2,300 per
“I look at it as
they have tried so hard to get rid of all the townships, this is one way to
start it,” Gerig said. “Then they can come back in five years and get rid of
In 2007, a
commission headed by former Gov. Joe Kernan and former Indiana Supreme Court
Chief Justice Randall Shepard recommended eliminating township government
altogether. Lawmakers chose not to because it’s the layer of government
closest to the people.
timetable would enable townships to form their merger plans and set new
elections for trustees and advisory boards. Because merging townships may
have different tax rates, Driskell said, the rate of the newly merged
townships would be phased in.