Township government targeted for elimination

The push is officially on to eliminate township government in Indiana.

Governor Mitch Daniels announced a series of local government reform proposals on Friday.

The plan also calls for eliminating elected county offices including commissioner, treasurer, and assessor.

Under the proposal, the sheriff, clerk, and auditor would remain elected positions.

The proposals come from the Kernan Shepard report on streamlining local government issued in December of 2007.

Daniels believes the time to talk about the ideas is over, and the time to act is now.

On Friday afternoon, about a dozen people were applying for half the helping hand they used to get at the Portage Township Trustee's Office.

"In September of 2007, all assistance that was going to be granted at that point in time forward would be cut in half," said Portage Township Trustee Charles Voreis.

Voreis isn't surprised to see that his job has been targeted for elimination by the same state administration he says has made it impossible to do his job in recent years.

"The budget was a little over $1.3 million, the Department of Local Government Finance cut my budget $666-thouasnd," said Voreis. "It's just not fair, it's not right to those individuals that are less fortunate."

Former Indiana governor Joseph Kernan was quick to point out, "this is not a criticism of the men and women that work in local government, elected officials, at all, instead it's really an indictment of the structure within which they work. Those services can be better provided with few elected officials and with those responsibilities assumed by either cities or counties."

The Governor also proposed eliminating elected County Commissioners on the same day that St. Joseph County Commissioner Mark Dobson resigned.

"My days in public office will end at the end of this year," Dobson said.

The resignation was just a coincidence. It had nothing to do with the proposal to eliminate his government position, along with other county elected offices like sheriff, auditor, treasurer, assessor and surveyor.

"These are the kind of positions that trained professions should run, not necessarily who can win a popularity contest every November," Dobson said.

Dobson will take a position as President of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. There, he'll likely end up lobbying to eliminate the government job he used to hold. The chamber has been supportive of government reform.

While the original Kernan Shepard report recommended extensive school consolidation, Governor Daniels will not push those planks before the state legislature this session.

Daniels will propose that school districts with enrollments of 1,000 students and less consolidate their administrative offices.

Only 46-school districts in the State of Indiana are that small, including the Oregon Davis School District in Starke County.


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