A year after Indiana lawmakers assembled a task force to consider ways to reduce the size of local government, an influential group of individuals and organization has formed to advance the effort.
Led by the state’s former budget director, Marilyn Schultz, Mysmartgov.org was formed to enact recommendations by the Kernan-Shepard Commission, which studied ways to streamline government and issued a report in December 2007. Lawmakers enacted some of the reforms — such as moving most of the assessment duties in townships to the county level — but many others were shelved as the General Assembly focused on the effort to cut property taxes.
The group includes a former state senator and representatives from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, and the Indiana Association of Realtors.
The coalition plans to spend up to $500,000 in its campaign to push through a number of the task force’s recommendations. It is currently urging voters in 43 townships to approve a proposal on the November ballot that would shift all remaining township assessment duties to the county level. After the election, the group will push state lawmakers to enact the other recommendations into law during the 2009 legislative session.
Recommendations include eliminating township governments, replacing county commissioners with an elected county executive, and reorganizing school districts so that they have at least 2,000 students.
“Very few things haven’t changed in the last 200 years, but local government in Indiana barely has,” Mysmartgov.org’s Web site reads. The group says Indiana has 3,086 government bodies and more levels of government than almost all states of a similar size.