Thursday, February 19, 2009

Super commissioner government - urgent info from association of IN counties

If you wish to contact Bob Bischoff-
If you wish to contact Johnny Nugent- s43@ai,org

February 17, 2009

Talking Points for Local Government Reform
506-Local Government Matters

Senate Bill 506 proposes statutory changes to county government and provides for the elimination of the three member board of commissioners. We believe that the Senate will call SB 506 for third and final reading today or Thursday, so we need to act now!
Please call your senator and ask that they vote against SB 506. Please do so even if they have previously expressed that they would vote against it. It needs to be clear to them that they still are being requested to vote "NO", despite the amendments.

The following is a list of talking points we feel are legitimate points of concern that support our position.
*We feel that the proposal will take power away from the voters to choose local leaders that represent all districts in the county.
*We feel that transparency would be compromised due to lack of open meeting discussions.
*We feel that the proposal would open the door for abuses of power and political favoritism.
*No evidence in supporting cost savings. In many counties this will likely cost more because of increased costs that typically are associated with appointed positions. Counties will have to hire support staff to support and provide a single executive officer. Even the Ball State study, often cited as evidence of reform savings, recognizes that transferring duties to other officials is “a potentially more costly activity.” They will need to provide additional office space in already crowded office buildings. Office equipment will need to be provided. Counties are already cutting budgets to address circuit breaker loses and cannot take on additional expenses that would be incurred.
* The current structure provides great value to the taxpayers. Many commissioners serve to contribute to their communities. They are not in the position for the money. Because of the division of responsibilities some still work in separate jobs. Some serve after a successful career.

*There has been great success with Economic Development in the State of Indiana. We do not believe that economic development success is stifled with the current structure. There have been mechanisms put in place for negotiations and public transparency for new development in communities. Many of the largest projects announced within recent years were county initiated projects. These include: Boone Co. - Anson Development; Decatur Co. – Honda; Gibson Co. – Toyota; Tippecanoe Co. - Subaru-Isuzu; Posey Co. Abengoa (ethanol); Whitley Co. – SDI expansion; Vigo Co. - Pfizer (since closed) CSN (steel); Monroe Co. Ivy Tech project; Hamilton Co. - Village Park

*The current structure promotes cooperative leadership.
*The current structure provides our communities with a diverse representation. Having three commissioners brings more qualifications, experience, and skills to the office and promotes a broad range of ideas to the decision making process. We have business professionals, homemakers, farmers, clergy, and educators just to name a few representing our communities. A three member board compliments each other and brings great wisdom and strength to decision making. The current structure is a true representative government structure.
*Commissioners are often required by statute to sit on different board and commissions. Dividing the responsibilities between a three members allows for greater time management and representation.
*The three member board with election cycles alternating brings continuity to the business of the county.
* This bill prohibits a political subdivision from promoting a position on a public question. The political subdivision knows the strengths and weakness of the county. The constituents deserve to hear the recommendations of the elected officials and evaluate the merit of either position.
* This bill provides that in every general election after 2012, 5% of the voters of the county may petition the circuit court clerk specifying a public question on reorganizing the county government. We believe that continuity with the county business would be compromised.
* The bill exempts Marion and Lake Counties from much of the bill. Many Senators have submitted amendments to exempt their counties. We feel that if a county wants to restructure they may request the change from the general assembly like Marion County.

Please make it a point to call your Senator this morning. Thank you for your continued commitment to local government.

Stephanie Yager
Executive Director

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