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Township Tussle

By PA

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-03-23


Even though local government restructuring appears dead for this state legislative session, supporters of a local government makeover continue to state their case.

While government restructuring has been a high priority for Governor Mitch Daniels as well as for much of the business community around the state, Indiana lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, showed no love to the governor’s proposals for reshaping local government.

A particularly stinging blow to government consolidation backers has been the ability of township government to survive attempts to wipe it our entirely. Although township government is unquestionably the local government entity that is closest to the people that it serves, township government had been considered the low hanging fruit in the quest to pare local government. Locally, Wayne Township and Wayne Township Trustee Rick Stevenson have been favorite targets of business interests who want to do away with township government, which provides relief to low income individuals and families as well as provides job training and other services. Anti-township forces argue that these same services would be better delivered under county government.

The problem, of course, is that that approach would make government bigger, not smaller. Piling more responsibilities onto counties seems a backward approach to shrinking government.

A second line of attack on township government has been the suggestion that some townships are inefficient in distributing direct aid to individuals. In the case of Wayne Township, for example, it had been argued that the township spends far more in overhead than it actually distributes in relief.

However, this disingenuous attack also fell flat. In fact, the administrative costs being attacked as wasteful, actually included a highly successful job training and placement program among other direct services. Apparently, the anti-township forces aren’t big supporters of the “teach a man to fish” line of thinking.

Still, even though the anti-township effort appears stalled, it is likely far from over.

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