House Bill 1650 – Elimination of Township Boards
Authored by Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville)

Provides that on January 1, 2020, in all counties (except Marion County): (1) township boards are dissolved; (2) the duties and responsibilities of the township board are transferred to the township trustee; (3) the township trustee has the legislative and fiscal powers and duties of the township, in addition to the executive powers and duties; and (4) the property and personnel of the township board are transferred to the township trustee.

Chamber Position: Support

The Latest: The bill was amended to remove provisions that would have repealed the existing township merger statutes, and removed the provisions regarding capital improvement plans (because they are in HB 1177 that is also making its way through the process). The amended bill was then passed by the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee 8-3.

Chamber Action/Commentary: The Chamber testified in support of this bill and also expressed our long-held view that there is a lot more that can and should be done to improve the way that township services are administered. We long ago reached the conclusion shared by those who have studied the township structure that it is an entire layer of government that should be dissolved.

From our perspective, this bill at least gets rid of an unneeded layer within an unneeded layer of government. It eliminates three elected officials whose only job is to look over the shoulder of a fourth elected official (the trustee) to make sure they are doing the job they were elected to do. With 1,005 townships statewide, that means we have 3,015 board members across the state to oversee the 1,005 trustees. These numbers just don’t make sense. The needed fiscal oversight can and should be performed by the county council, county auditor and the State Board of Accounts. The present structure is pretty indefensible but those who are part of it continue to fight mightily to sustain themselves.

The committee outcome tells us very little regarding how this bill will fare on the House floor. But the goal is to get it there and have a vote take place so legislators are on record either to keep or get rid of an ineffective, outdated piece of local government.

Resource: Bill Waltz at (317) 264-6887 or email: [email protected]