Township jobs offer benefits, money for little work

February 23, 2009

My dad always told me the best time to look for work is when you don't need it. Between my broadcasting, legal, teaching, consulting and stand-up comedic obligations, I'm not hurting for employment so I figured now would be a good time. And I have found the perfect place to look for a job: township government.

Now I will admit that previous writings in this paper and other forums might have led some of you to think I was no fan of township government. I'm not, but I do love money. And just like Willie Sutton, who liked to rob banks because that's where the money was, I'm going to get myself a job in township government because, "There is gold in them thar hills."

Don't believe me? Try this on for size.

In Marion County, the Washington Township Board recently voted itself a 73-percent pay raise, even though it no longer has a fire department to oversee. Board salaries went from $2,200 annually to $3,800. The board averages about eight meetings a year. When was the last time you got paid $475 to sit in a meeting? Now granted, that's not quite as good as the Noblesville Township Board, which pays $7,500 annually. It meets once a month, so that's a nice $625 for a meeting that lasts an hour. Or, if neither of these works out, I can always try for the Union Township Board in Montgomery County. I could get $5,000 a year to attend four meetings.

But it's not just direct pay. Any good job also has benefits. What's a job without health insurance? That's not something any of the part-time members of the Noblesville Township Board in Hamilton County or the Perry Township Board in Marion County have to worry about. They get taxpayer-funded health care coverage.

And don't forget life insurance. You get that if you're on the Warren Township Board in Marion County. Die while in office, and your beneficiaries get $15,000.

And even if I couldn't get good insurance, there are plenty of ways to milk the system.

For example, if I were the Lake Township trustee in Allen County, I could do poor relief from my home and pay myself rent. I would have made $4,800 last year for giving poor relief to 15 people. As a matter of fact, 13 out of 20 of Allen County's township trustees use government money to rent space out of their homes.

Another nice thing about a township government job is, if you play your cards right, the public will rarely bother you because people will hardly be able to find you. Only five of the 11 township trustee offices in Montgomery County are listed in the phone book, only two have signs, and only one keeps regular office hours.

I'm telling you, folks, these are some pretty cool jobs, and I frankly don't blame township government folks for not wanting to give them up. Based on recent data, 75 percent of township trustees ran unopposed in 2006, and 64 percent of the township advisory board candidates ran unopposed. Fifty percent of Indiana's poor relief comes from 2 percent of its townships. In 2007, 40 percent of the townships gave poor relief to fewer than 10 households.

So let's recap: Nice pay, little work, taxpayer-funded health and life insurance, and a 60-plus-percent chance of getting reelected. I don't blame the township folks one bit. So who wants in on this? I'll start taking resumes next week.

Shabazz is the morning show host on WXNT-AM 1430, the news analyst on WRTV-TV Channel 6, and counsel at the law firm of Lewis and Wilkins.

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