Local government reform still sputtering

March 4, 2010
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Today is expected to be the final day of the second General Assembly since the Kernan-Shepard report on local government reform was issued, and precious little has been accomplished.

Co-chaired by former Gov. Joe Kernan and Chief Justice Randall Shepard, the report included 27 recommendations to streamline local government with a subtitle, “We’ve got to stop governing like this.”

So far, we’re still governing this way, namely, inefficiently. And a couple of bills that would move township duties to county levels are thought to have slim odds of passage this session.

As an overview of just how little of Kernan-Shepard has been implemented, below is a list of the recommendations, and what has and has not passed. A number of bills have been introduced but quickly lost steam.

What are your thoughts about Kernan-Shepard? Do you anticipate more of the recommendations passing, or is it losing momentum?

County level

Assessing duties in all but 13 townships in the state have been shifted to county levels. Emergency public-safety dispatch must be consolidated before 2015. And child welfare funding has been moved from counties to the state.

Remaining:
—Establish a single-person county chief executive.
—Establish a single, unified legislative body for county government.
—Transfer duties of the auditor, treasurer, recorder, assessor, surveyor and sheriff to the county executive. Transfer duties of the clerk of the courts to the county election board and county executive.
—Create a countywide body to oversee public safety.
—Shift funding of the state’s trial courts, including public defenders and probation, to the state.

Townships

Remaining:
—Shift township duties of poor relief, fire protection, emergency medical services, and cemeteries to the county executive. Establish a countywide poor-relief levy.
—Transfer township small claims court in Marion County to superior courts.

Schools

Local referendums now must pass for elementary schools costing more than $10 million and high schools costing more than $20 million. However, a related part of the Kernan-Shepard recommendation is still stuck in the Statehouse: School corporation bonds being approved by the municipal or county government with the greatest proportion of assessed value in the school district.

Remaining:
—Reorganize school districts so each has a minimum of 2,000 students. Establish state standards and county-based planning.
—Prompt joint purchasing by schools.
—Conduct all nonpartisan school elections during November in even years.

Cities and towns

Remaining:
—All city councils to appoint city clerks in second-class cities.
—Move all municipal elections to an even-year cycle.
—Transfer responsibilities of municipal health departments to county health departments.

Libraries and special districts

Budgets and levies of all unelected boards must be approved by municipalities if the district is within the city or town.

Remaining:
—Reorganize library systems by county and provide permanent library services for all citizens.
—Strengthen current joint-purchasing infrastructure for libraries.

All local governments


Remaining:
—Expand voluntary coordination and consolidation of units and services. Strengthen powers of voters to compel consolidation.
—Allow local governments to establish service districts with differentiated levels of service and corresponding tax rates.
—Facilitate local improvement efforts using best management and business practices. Strengthen state mechanisms that support these activities, particularly for collective purchasing.
—Prohibit local government employees from serving as elected officials of the same government unit.

Support and monitoring

Remaining:
—Assign the Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations to monitor progress toward these recommendations and conduct annual research as needed. Produce an annual report through 2011.
—Establish a statewide benchmarking system to provide the public and policymakers current information about local government productivity and progress.
—Designate a state office to provide technical assistance to local government.
 

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  1. If what you stated is true, then this article is entirely inaccurate. "State sells bonds" is same as "State borrows money". Supposedly the company will "pay for them". But since we are paying the company, we are still paying for this road with borrowed money, even though the state has $2 billion in the bank.

  2. Andrew hit the nail on the head. AMTRAK provides terrible service and that is why the state has found a contractor to improve the service. More trips, on-time performance, better times, cleanliness and adequate or better restrooms. WI-FI and food service will also be provided. Transit from outlying areas will also be provided. I wouldn't take it the way it is but with the above services and marketing of the service,ridership will improve and more folks will explore Indy and may even want to move here.

  3. They could take the property using eminent domain and save money by not paying the church or building a soccer field and a new driveway. Ctrwd has monthly meetings open to all customers of the district. The meetings are listed and if the customers really cared that much they would show. Ctrwd works hard in every way they can to make sure the customer is put first. Overflows damage the surrounding environment and cost a lot of money every year. There have been many upgrades done through the years to help not send flow to Carmel. Even with the upgrades ctrwd cannot always keep up. I understand how a storage tank could be an eye sore, but has anyone thought to look at other lift stations or storage tanks. Most lift stations are right in the middle of neighborhoods. Some close to schools and soccer fields, and some right in back yards, or at least next to a back yard. We all have to work together to come up with a proper solution. The proposed solution by ctrwd is the best one offered so far.

  4. Fox has comments from several people that seem to have some inside information. I would refer to their website. Changed my whole opionion of this story.

  5. This place is great! I'm piggy backing and saying the Cobb salad is great. But the ribs are awesome. $6.49 for ribs and 2 sides?! They're delicious. If you work downtown, head over there.

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