Word of a $15 million dollar bond being voted on in Washington Township for some, as of yet unknown property, came to my attention a few weeks ago. The first thing I did was reach out to our two Westfield PAC members , Ron Thomas and recent addition, Marla Ailor, and ask them what was going on over there. It is highly unusual, no it is extremely unusual, for any township government to acquire land given that is not a role of township government.
I have a long history of questioning the role that township government plays in our modern society and was one of the founding members of the Reorganize Fishers group in 2012. That PAC was advocating for the elimination of Fall Creek Township to be annexed into the newly formed City Of Fishers. While we lost that battle my opinion on township government hasn’t changed all that much. I believe that any township that is 85% or more within a municipality should be eliminated and the municipality take on its duties. This is mostly due to the limited duties that the townships are empowered, by state statue, to provide the taxpayers and the fact it serves as a duplicitous level of taxation for residents of the overlapping municipality. However, this blog isn’t about my opinions on township government. It is about what township government isn’t and land speculation should raise alarm bells all over the county.
The primary duty of the township government is to administer poor relief and ensure fire protection for anyone not covered by their municipality. They are supposed to be the local government for folks that live outside of a town or city. They are not suppose to create a subset of parks or green spaces, especially when a vast majority of their land mass is within a municipality. “There are currently 1,005 townships in the State of Indiana. Pursuant to IC 36-6-4-2(a), the trustee is the township executive. The trustee is elected to a four year term, with all trustees around the state being elected to the same four year term. The current term of the trustee is January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2018. The township board is also elected to a four year term on the same cycle as the trustee. Pursuant to IC 36-6-6-2(c), the township board is the township legislative body. Township boards consist of three individuals (except in Marion County, which has seven individuals on each board).
The duties of the trustee include (but is not limited to):
Administering Township Assistance
Providing Fire Protection
Pursuant to IC 5-11-1-25, examination of townships are to be conducted as determined by SBOA, but not less than once every 4 years.”
Equally troubling to me is that current County Commissioner Christine Altman has recently been retained by the Washington Township Trustee as their legal counsel. Now this isn’t a surprise given Commissioner Altman represents several of the townships within Hamilton County, but it surely does afford one to question possible conflicts of interests. The Commissioners serve as the appeal body for Township Trustees' denials of poor relief, how can Altman rule against a trustee if she is employed by them?
Care to read more about our thoughts on Washington Township? Click here.