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Township Merger Bill Starts Journey

2018-01-19T14:03:44+00:00January 19th, 2018|

Bill # and Title: HB 1005 – Township Government Matters
Author: Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville)
Summary: Allows a participating unit in a newly formed fire protection territory to phase in the unit’s property tax levy over a period not exceeding three years. Requires all townships with a population of less than 1,200 to merge with other townships, effective not later than January 1, 2023. Provides that in all township mergers, the township board members of the new township government are elected at-large. Allows a township assistance applicant to appeal to the county commissioners if a township trustee: (1) refuses to provide the applicant with a township assistance application; or (2) fails to respond within a specified time to a telephone request for township assistance services. Amends the information required in the township trustee’s annual statistical report. Eliminates the requirement that a township publish its annual abstract of receipts and expenditures. Prohibits a township board from approving a township board member’s salary, for calendar year 2019 and every year thereafter, that exceeds $5,000 per year. … Prohibits the township from collecting property taxes for certain capital improvement funds in the ensuing year unless the township has adopted a capital improvement plan.​​​​
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard in the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee on Tuesday, but no vote was taken. A vote is expected next week.

Update/Chamber Action: The Chamber testified in support of this bill during the committee hearing, noting that combining the smallest townships makes sense and that this measure allows sufficient time to make the transition. This bill represents a long-standing priority of the Indiana Chamber. Of note: The Indiana Township Association (ITA) also supports the legislation. ITA executive director Debbie Driskell said her members largely believe it’s time for reform and for some townships to merge, and that it will allow townships to better their services.

This bill takes a significant step in making townships more efficient and effective. It recognizes the inherent logic and practicality in administratively merging adjacent jurisdictions, tasked to perform identical functions, when one or both have an extremely small population and very limited resources. It sets up a completely manageable process and timeline for transitioning the mergers. Additionally, it includes other changes that have been brought forth by township officials across the state, which are designed to improve their ability to operate more effectively. ​​

Resource: Bill Waltz at (317) 264-6884 or email: bwaltz@indianachamber.com