Local Government Reform

BACKGROUND

In 2007, Governor Mitch Daniels established the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform to take an in-depth look at the hierarchical structure of local government and create a list of recommendations that would help streamline the local system. This Commission (sometimes referred to as the Kernan-Shephard Board) outlined 27 Recommendations in its report titled “Streamlining Local Government: We’ve Got to Stop Governing Like This.”

The report revealed some staggering facts about Indiana’s local governmental system:
Indiana currently has about 2,730 local units of government with the authority to levy property taxes. This includes 92 counties, 1,008 townships, 117 cities, 450 towns, and 293 school corporations. Only 9 states in the country have more. To govern all of these units, Indiana elects an estimated 10,746 officials – including 1,100 with responsibility for property tax assessment. Only 11 states have more than Indiana’s 92 counties. Many states that are much bigger geographically and demographically (including California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York) have substantially fewer counties and thus county governments.

To view the full Kernan-Shephard report, click here.

POSITION

In 2008, the UPSTAR Board voted to support the recommendations set forth in the report realizing that the details of each recommendation would have to be worked out by the state legislature and presented as bills during session. As these recommendations come up for discussion at the state level, UPSTAR is committed to promoting local support for their passage in an effort to establish a leaner, more effective local government system at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.

UPDATES

November 2008: Two of the 27 recommendations in whole or part have already gone through legislation—the funding of child welfare being transferred to the state and the consolidation of the township assessors under the county as a result of HEA 1001 (2008).

HEA 1001 (2008) transferred the duties of the Township Assessors to the County Assessors’ office except for townships that had 15,000 or more parcels within their jurisdiction as of January 1, 2008. There were three townships in Allen County that fell into this category—Wayne, St. Joe and Aboite Townships. Besides these three townships in Allen County, there were forty other township assessors that remain in their position across the State prior to the November 2008 election.

While HEA 1001 left 43 townships assessors, untouched, it did call for a referendum to be placed on the November ballot so the public can weigh in on whether or not the remaining 43 township assessors should be streamlined into the County Assessor.

The UPSTAR Government Affairs Department worked diligently to inform residents in Wayne, St. Joe and Aboite townships about the benefits of streamlinging the assessing duties under the county. After the election, we were successful in consolidating two (Aboite and St. Joe) of the three remaining townships under the county. In the State of Indiana, only 13 township assessors remain following the consolidation and the referendum.

Realtors