We need to know the people with responsibility
Thursday, August 28, 2014 2:21 PM
The solution for many of the concerning problems in our society may be to transfer responsibility from the faceless bureaucracy of state and federal government to the people we know at the local level. That is an appealing solution I want to embrace.
It seems reasonable that the responsibility for poor relief, and fire and emergency services should occur at the local level through township trustees and township boards. After all, citizens in local communities know the most about local needs. Unfortunately, the record is not consistent at the local level. Some township officials serve admirably; others far less so. Often those positions remain vacant or unopposed for lack of citizen interest. Lack of citizen interest may also account for the disparity in the cost of township government. For example, why are citizens of Madison Township willing to pay over eight times more than their neighbors in Franklin Township for those services? Are they getting better services, or are they simply accepting the budget without questioning it and without holding the trustee and the three-member board accountable.
It is disparities such as those shown below that prompted the 2007 Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform to call for the elimination of township government. Unfortunately the suggestion that these functions be transferred to the counties may not solve the problem. At the county level, as at the township level, some officials serve admirably; others less so. And again, citizens demand too little of their elected officials.
This is a problem with an easily solution. My neighbors and I must be informed when we vote, pay attention as officials perform their duties, and hold them accountable.
Today is a good time to start. Citizens have the opportunity to learn about and question township budgets during public hearings. They have seven days after the hearing to file an objection petition with the township board. Although the seven day period has passed for Walnut Township, time remains for filing an objection petition in all other townships.
Budget information including dates and locations of the hearings can be found at www.budgetnotices.in.gov. Actual expenditures and per capita costs for 2013 are at http:gateway.ifionline.org/report_builder. Look for Disbursements by Fund Report and Expenditures Per Capita.
2015 Township Budget Estimates and per capita cost
Estimate Population percapita hearing
Franklin 56,425 1915 $29.46 8/28/2014
Union 1,192,849 24587 $48.52 9/9/2014
Wayne 80,940 1590 $50.91 9/2/2014
Walnut 78,598 1394 $56.38 8/20/2014
Brown 99,442 1719 $57.85 9/2/2014
Coal Creek 115,376 1544 $74.73 9/30/2014
Sugar Creek 44,980 448 $100.40 9/4/2014
Clark 198,000 1841 $107.55 9/9/2014
Madison 314,700 1272 $247.41 8/25/2014
Ripley not reported
Scott not reported