House committee passes Ziemke’s bill streamlining government and consolidating small townships

Posted by: Abigail Campbell  | Tuesday, January 30, 2018 10:39 am

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 30, 2018) — The House Committee on Ways and Means passed a bill Monday authored by State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) that would require small townships to merge with one or more contiguous townships. 

According to Ziemke, the bill would require townships under a population of 1,200 to merge with one or more townships within the same county. The newly formed township would need to meet that population requirement as well as elect a new township trustee and board members.

“The motivation behind this legislation is to provide the most efficient, fiscally sound local government possible at the township level,” Ziemke said. “I have been working closely with the Indiana Township Association to come up with a bill that consolidates small township operations, but maintains the same township services and transparency Hoosiers expect.”

According to Ziemke, House Bill 1005 contains multiple requirements to assist small townships during this proposed transition. For example, guidance by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance would be required upon request for local governments, like small townships, when reorganizing. The DLGF would also be required to perform a fiscal impact study of the township merger free of charge.

Additionally, the committee amended the bill to urge an interim legislative committee to study better mechanisms to fund township firefighting services. That committee would consider whether these township services should have a minimum funding level or tax rate.

“House Bill 1005 includes additional provisions that improve township government accountability and services,” Ziemke said. “It would empower citizens denied township assistance the option to appeal the denial to the county board of commissioners.  This legislation would also cap township board salaries at $7,000 per year and require all townships to develop a capital improvement plan if their capital fund exceeds 150 percent of the township’s annual budget estimate.”

The bill will now go to the full house for discussion. For more information, visit iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Cindy Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents House District 55, which includes 
all of Fayette County and portions of Decatur, Franklin, Ripley and Rush counties.

A high-resolution photo of Ziemke can be downloaded by clicking here.