top of page
  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

After more than one year Guthrie Township Advisory Board remains vacant - township reform ?

LEESVILLE - JANUARY 4, 2024 - After more than one year the three elected Guthrie Township advisory board positions remains vacant with no one wanting to serve. This leaves Guthrie Township Republican Trustee Stacie Ratliff with no oversight.


No one ran for the three member advisory board seats in the 2022 election.


In fact, no one ran for the Guthrie township offices in 2023.


The advisory board approves the budget for township government and provides oversight of the township trustee.



Photo: Guthrie Township voted to establish a fire territory in 2022


In January of 2023 the Lawrence County Commissioners appointed Guthrie Township Trustee Stacie Ratliff, advisory board members Angela Myers, and Brooke Horner Hayes to the township offices. However, Myers and Hayes submitted their resignations and declined the appointment.


Nick Hubbard a third advisory board member submitted his resignation prior to the January meeting.


The last huge action by the township was to join the Lawrence County Fire Territory in 2022.


" This is a huge step in the right direction many fire departments have closed their doors," said Nick Hubbard Guthrie in approving the township joining the fire territory.


Guthrie Township had the biggest tax implications for joining the fire territory. At the present time the Leesville fire station is not manned 24/7.


" If anyone wants to fill the vacant seat can contact me. At this time the people I have asked to join the advisory board have declined to serve stating they do not have time to serve," said Heath Hawkins Lawrence County Republican Thursday night.


Township government is viewed antiquated by many taxpayers and state legislatures across the State of Indiana


Photo: Lawrence County has nine townships


The Indiana has more than 1,000 townships and survived more than 36 attempts to reorganize them since 2004. This included consolidating Lawrence County's Bono and Guthrie Township into other townships.


In a 108 page document there are more than 27 recommendations to better help improve township government.


The Indiana Township Association conducted the report with the Indiana Policy Institute.


Indiana's 1002 townships distribute about $20 million in poor relief, and provide fire and emergency medical services.


The Indiana Chamber of Commerce feels that township government should go and be taken by county government.


In addition the Indiana Chamber of Commerce feels that Indiana has too many counties and school districts for its population with the group using the 2007 Kernan and Shepherd report that abolishing township government will provide more efficient report in support of that position.


Photo: More fire districts, fire territories and consolidation of townships are on the horizon in Indiana

Figure ES1. Recommendations Township structure and mergers


1. Encourage townships to consider interlocal arrangements to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of local services.


2. Update the township merger statute (IC 36–6–1.5) to remove challenges to implementation. a. Codify that service districts are allowed. b. Allow initial varied tax rates among merging units with a process to adjust in the future.


3. Provide support to townships that wish to pursue voluntary mergers. a. Develop criteria that townships can use to evaluate the appropriateness of merging. b. Provide education about the township merger process, including the development of a guide, templates, and model resolutions. c. Establish a program within the Indiana Township Association (ITA) to support technical, legal, and accounting assistance for townships that wish to merge. Seek state funding to support this programming.


4. Allow the nonvoluntary merger of townships based on: a. If no candidate appears on the ballot for any of the township offices in a township for two consecutive general elections, then the county commissioners have the authority to merge that township with one or more adjacent townships in the county. A merging township could be split in cases where it is geographically divided by a river, interstate, railroad, etc. that makes fire protection or other government services easier to administer. The voters and assessed property value (AV) would be transferred to the new township(s) and treated as part of the new township(s) for all purposes in the future. b. If the local party is not able to fill a trustee position for three consecutive years of the four–year term, the county commissioners have the authority to merge townships as described in 4a. Finances


5. Make townships an eligible unit for state grant and low–interest loan funding.


6. Develop and provide—at the state’s expense—accounting software and processes that include reporting than can be generated for submission to Department of Local Government (DLGF) and State Board of Accounts (SBOA) and that can generate financial reports to the township board. 1 (continued) Figure ES1. Recommendations (continued) Finances (continued)


7. Reinstate the excess levy appeal.


8. Strengthen board oversight of township finances. a. Require the Board of Finance to meet quarterly. b. Require the trustee to provide quarterly financial reporting to the board. c. Establish penalties for the trustee for failing to provide transparency around township finance and banking information. d. Request that SBOA establish read–only login capability for township board members to view financial information submitted by their trustees that is not currently shown on the public interface of the Gateway for Local Government Units. Township assistance


9. Revise the TA–7 form to ensure that it produces useful data.


10. Standardize administrative guidelines for township assistance.


11. Reinstate the township assistance levy appeal based on increases in assistance spending.


12. Create investigative tools for township assistance.


13. Create educational pieces townships can use to communicate information about township assistance. Fire and EMS services


14. Simplify the process to form a fire territory.


15. Expand the circumstances that allow a public safety levy appeal.


16. Require townships with fire and EMS services be included in public safety local income tax allocations.


17. Require that Annual Entity Reports (E–1) for all nonprofits receiving governmental assistance—including volunteer fire departments—include an accounting of expenditures by vendor. Other services


18. Consolidate statutory responsibility for pioneer cemeteries with townships. Allow counties to contract with townships for cemetery care. Education and communication


19. Mandate annual continuing education for elected officials and critical staff.


20. Create a certification or credential for townships that complete a continuing education program.


21. Increase communication among cities, towns, and townships about common issues. County commissioners are one potential convenor.


22. Increase communication among townships at the local level to communicate about common issues. County commissioners are one potential convenor.


23. Expand training options, including more online, night, and weekend options.


24. Provide support for small townships to attend training with state support for scholarships and/or event sponsorships.


25. Expand education of the public, K–12 students, and policy makers about the duties and value of township government. Other


26. Conduct a comprehensive statutory review and remove antiquated township language.


27. Augment the current system of enforcement, penalties, and legal consequences for failure to perform critical statutory duties.


Notes: 1. Currently, DLGF allows read–only access to budget materials for individuals with appropriate interests.

2. The previous township levy appeal was repealed by PL 1969–2006.


3. Annual Entity Reports (E–1) are required to be filed with the Indiana State Board of Accounts by all nongovernmental entities that receive governmental financial assistance, including service contracts and agreements. This report is distinct from the Business Entity Reports that are required by the Indiana Secretary of State.


Source: The Study of Efficiency & Effectiveness of Indiana Township Government ITA Task Force Report


The full Indiana Township Association report listed here:



The Huron Volunteer Fire Department has officially has disbanded their fire department with fire protection being provided by Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department.



Marion Township, Spice Valley Township (South) and City of Mitchell Volunteer Fire Department is considering forming a fire territory.


For breaking news and information go to lczephyr.org or like/follow the Lawrence County Zephyr Facebook page.


ADVERTISEMENTS

























211 views0 comments
bottom of page