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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Nice stash

It turns out that the state isn't the only government unit that likes to keep a little cash in reserve. There are 1,008 little fiefdoms out there with 1,008 little rainy day funds:

Indiana's 1,008 townships have amassed more than $200 million in taxpayer money that is stashed in reserves, yet no one -- township officials, state officials or lawmakers -- has made any effort to curb the property tax collections that generated the surplus.

A review by The Indianapolis Star shows that in some cases, the reserves represent more than 10 times the township's annual budget -- far more than necessary for even the most prudent rainy day fund, according to financial experts.

And, despite tough times, the massive reserve includes $50 million in unspent money that was raised specifically to benefit the poor.

The growing bankrolls are fueled, at least in part, by a system that encourages townships to collect the maximum amount of property taxes allowable every year, regardless of need. If townships don't raise the maximum, the amounts they can raise in following years are reduced.

So, they raise millions more than they seem to need, the money is supposed to be for poor relief but they don't spend it for that even in these tough times, they just stockpile the cash instead of investing it to earn interest, and they won't reduce the taxes that resulted in the surpluses. Boy, that certainly hould bring a rousing vote of confidence in the township system, shouldn't it?

Those who argue for keeping the townships say it's the one unit of government closest to "the people," which gives "the people" more control over officials. But "the people" are just taxpayers, and it seems like township officials don't have much respect for them or their money, and nobody seems to be watching them or holding them accountable. Members of the General Assembly, take note.


Bob G.
Wed, 02/11/2009 - 10:34am

If those General Assembly members ARE in fact, going to take note (or notes), perhaps they'd best be served by being provided with those HUGE beginner pencils...or CRAYONS.

And by all means, give 'em that cheap pulp paper with the wood chunks still floating in it, OK?