Home > Political Animal > A Local Government Makeover

A Local Government Makeover

By PA

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-02-10


It’s the issue that just won’t die: local government consolidation. After incremental movement over the last several years, plans to restructure local government appear to be on the fast track at the Indiana Statehouse.

The Senate Local Government Committee voted 6-5 to approve Senate Bill 506. The bill would force Indiana counties to change the structure of county government. Right now, Indiana counties have an executive branch consisting of three county commissioners, and a county council that handles money matters. Senate Bill 506 would change county government to look more like city government, where there is either a single executive and a county council with legislative and fiscal responsibilities; or a board of supervisors with legislatve and fiscal responsibilities who would appoint a county manager to run day-to-day operations.

Who would make the final decision on which structure is best? The bill leaves the final call to either the current elected county commissioners or to citizens who would make a choice in a referendum next year.

Local government restructuring is a high priority of Governor Mitch Daniels. The recommendations of a special commission formed by the governor prompted many of the proposed changes outlined in the bill.

Proponents, which include business leaders across the state, say the current configuration of local government is outdated. Opponents argue there’s no evidence the changes will increase effectiveness, save money or better serve taxpayers.

PLACE YOUR BETS
While surrogates and consultants take the community’s pulse on expanded gaming (see our cover story), Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry has his fellow elected officials waiting and wondering when he’ll take an official stance on the issue. A bill before the state legislature would pave the way for casino-style electronic slot machine to move from Anderson’s Hoosier Park to the company’s off-track betting facility in Fort Wayne - an operation that might eventually move downtown. So far, the mayor is mum on where he stands on that proposal. Will his State of the City Address on February 12th reveal his position?

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