Updated: Tuesday, 03 Mar 2009, 8:33 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 03 Mar 2009, 5:47 PM EST
FORT WAYNE, IND. (WANE) - Trimming the fat and giving people in Indiana better service: that's what the governor and his predecessor are trying to do. A handful of officials in Indiana, including former Governor Joe Kernan and Indiana State Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard have a 27 step plan to do just that.
It's called the Kernan-Shepard Report on Government Reform. It’s aimed at modernizing local governments across the state, while also saving taxpayer dollars.
"It's about a system that's not serving Hoosiers well," Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels said Tuesday at a presentation of the report at Fort Wayne’s Chamber of Commerce. Governor Daniels wants to see what he calls 18th century government modernized.
"You would quickly understand your government better and know who to give the credit to, or who to blame. You wouldn't get the run around that I hear about all the time, where three county commissioners all point at one another or the auditor points at the treasurer who points at the clerk, points at the recorder, who points at the assessor. So you'd have more visible and accountable government," Governor Daniels told NewsChannel 15’s Matt McCutcheon.
The plan calls for a single county executive, or more adequately splitting roles between county commissioners and county council.
Other measures include shifting more policy functions to elected positions, while moving administrative duties to those not elected. Another proposal involves changing some municipal election dates, for posts like school board seats; and consolidating emergency public safety dispatch by county or even multi-county region.
The Kernan-Shepard report along with Governor Daniels use the Allen County Public Library as a successful example of integration; we have one library system serving both the city and county successfully. That helps to pare down costs while maintaining and even expanding services.
That success model, officials say, could be used to overhaul township government.
"Sixty percent of the townships reported providing services to fewer than 2 households a month, and what they do in fire protection is contracted once a year and write a check... it doesn't seem to me that that's an appropriate place to be spending tax payer dollars," said Marilyn Schultz, Executive Director of MySmartGov.
Officials say the 27 step plan would eliminate duplication statewide while saving taxpayers as much as $600 million a year. Several parts of the plan require legislative action, and could take years to fully integrate.