As an ex-board member of Fall Creek Township for nine years and having gone through the merger process between Fall Creek Township and at the time the Town of Fishers in 2010, I am very familiar with the process and the advantages of merging the two governmental units.
Although we failed in our attempt merge the two units, I am convinced to this day that it was the right thing to do and in the best interest of the taxpayers and community overall. The Fishers/Fall Creek merger referendum was not a straight forward merge decision, but included some other questions on the ballot which muddied the waters. There were actually two questions that were on the ballot for the referendum, both questions had to have a certain result for the merger to take effect. Additionally, one of the questions was whether Fishers should become a city.
The Carmel/Clay Township proposed merger will more than likely be more straight forward. I believe there are five compelling reasons why the citizens of Carmel would benefit from the merger.
It eliminates an unnecessary layer of government – There is really not a good reason to have two governmental units/taxing authorities over the same geographic area. The core competencies are not unique to each unit. They share many of the same skills and responsibilities. The four main mandated functions of the township are; noxious weed control, fire protection, abandoned cemetery care and upkeep, and poor relief. None of those responsibilities are beyond the level of care the city can provide.
It would reduce costs – Both the city and township is a taxing authority. They are allowed a tax levee based on the assessed value of the property in their geographic area. They both cover the same area so the assessed value for the purposes of levying taxes is the same. Additionally, their overhead in many cases is duplicative. They have two boards, two executives, two buildings with office space, and many other redundant features.
Township government is unnecessary in densely populated areas – There is a need for township government in rural areas that do not have governmental units. In many less densely populated areas in the state it is their only form of local government. That is not the case in central Indiana and Carmel.
Because of economies of scale, the City can better execute the responsibilities – As mentioned in point one there are four main responsibilities of township government. Because the city has more professional staff and depth of skills they are in a better position to move manpower around to accomplish the tasks the township are responsible for at lower costs. Again it should be less expensive for the taxpayer.
Less confusion on election day – By getting rid of a layer of government you will not have as many elected offices to vote on and therefore you can reduce the amount of research you have to do to decide who to vote for. Many voters have no idea what the township’s responsibilities are and what a Trustee and board members actually do, so it is hard to know who the best candidate is.
Until the merger document outlining how the city and township will merge, what structure will be used for the transition, and how assets and liabilities will be transferred it is hard to get into more specific details on the merits of the merger. However, overall there are a lot of compelling reasons to support a merger between the City of Carmel and Clay Township. You should get better value from your local government.
For more information about read The Reporter - Referendum to seek Carmel, Clay merger
Larry In Fishers
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