Would a county CEO be a king?

December 12, 2007
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A centerpiece of the sweeping proposal rolled out yesterday by the Commission on Local Government Reform involves consolidating many county offices under one elected official.

A county chief executive would appoint the assessor, auditor, coroner, recorder, surveyor, treasurer and even the sheriff. The prosecutor still would be elected.

Officials who would be affected by the idea didnâ??t wait long to launch a barrage of criticism. Hamilton County council member at-large Brad Beaver told the Star that he likened a chief executiveâ??s authority to that of a king.

Most of us are used to working under a CEOâ??s authority, and governors and the U.S. president are empowered with a roughly similar structure.

The commission co-chairmen, former Gov. Joe Kernan and Chief Justice Randall Shepard, say the state needs major change to make local government operate well.

Are you comfortable with bringing nearly all of county government under one person?
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  • Yes, it will provide more accountability and focus on providing better results.... City and county governments are too spread out which allows elected officials to deflect blame or accountability for their efforts. A CEO of a county will drive results that are accountable AND measurable.
  • I like everything about the idea except the appointed sheriff. An independently elected sheriff could retain some level of checks and balances.
  • It is no different then a mayor appointing people or a city manager. Why do people think one elected official running a county is such a big deal?
  • Let's hope that IBJ does more anaylsis of these plans that the daily newspaper. First, while there are many counties in the US that have County Executives as a county's CEO, virtually NO counties in the country have a system like the one proposed where virtually every elected officeholder in a county is eliminated. First, where are the cost savings. Someone still has to run a surveyors office, a cornors office, be a sheriff, etc. If you want more qualified persons you'll be paying more in salary and benefits than you do now. So, now savings in the personell area.
    One other major issue. Indianapolis already has a County Executive. A Mayor. That person is already in charge of running city/county departments (streets, zoning, parks, Public Works).Now you're adding to that the powers of the countywide elected officials. AND townships. And additional appointments to boards and commissions currently handled by County Commissioners. That's more power than the Kernan/Shepard Commission would give Indiana's other 91 counties.
    And would make the Indy mayor more powerful than the Governor and far more powerful than any Mayor in the country (including NYC). Is that really what Hoosiers want?
  • Can someone answer this question: What effect does this proposal have say in Hamilton County where you have mayors in Carmel and Noblesville and a Town Council president in Fishers. Will this county CEO have authority over these areas or only for the unincorporated sections?
  • They would not have control over incorporated towns and cities except as county assessors, and treasurers would. The mayor would still run his town.

    For the most part this is a good idea. Do you realize the Marion County Surveyor is a former nun who has no surveying knowledge or experience? Did you know that Marion County has a coroner who does not have the stomach to watch an autopsy? Did you know you can be a treasurer or auditor and not have a high school degree? Does this worry people? It should.
  • The Marion County Surveyor's Office has basically ceased to function.

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