- Allow the city council to appoint the city clerk in second-class cities.
- Move all municipal elections to an even-year election cycle
- Transfer the responsibilities of municipal health departments to the county health department
- Reorganize library systems by county and provide government library service for all citizens
- Require that the budgets and bonds of library and all other special districts be approved by the fiscal body of the municipality or county government containing the greatest proportion of assessed value in the unit seeking approval
- Strengthen the current joint purchasing infrastructure of libraries
- Expand voluntary coordination and consolidation of units and services. Strengthen the power of voters to compel consolidation.
- Allow local governments to establish service districts with differentiated levels of service and corresponding tax rates
- Facilitate local improvement efforts using best public management and business practices. Strengthen state mechanisms that support these activities, particularly for collective purchasing
- Prohibit employees of a local government unit from serving as elected officials within the same local unit of government
- Assign the Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations to monitor progress toward these recommendations and conduct additional research as needed. Produce an annual report on progress through 2011.
- Establish a statewide benchmarking system to provide the public and policymakers with current information about local government productivity and progress
- Designate a state office to provide technical assistance to local government
This is consistent with having administrative positions become appointed rather than elected and I would support this.
I know this might be unpopular for some because they like the idea of having regular elections, and I'm also sympathetic to those that want to keep the number of candidates they have to research to a minimum. However, the report points out that some cities are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars they could otherwise save if they piggybacked onto the other elections.
We've already gone through that consolidation here in Allen County and I think it makes sense for other counties to do this as well.
The report points out that Indiana already has an excellent library system that ranked second in the country in 2004. However they also show that using statewide benchmarks can mask some of the underlying problems. For example they cite that 395,000 citizens do not have access to library services in their communities, and that our libraries employ twice as many staff as the national average. Much of the "over-employment" probably comes from the fact that 60% of our library districts account for only 8% of the statewide circulation. Like for schools, the commission only recommends consolidating districts and not actual libraries. Why in the world do we have 239 library districts and only 92 counties? In fact why do we have library districts at all? The commission is right to recommend that these be rolled into the counties.
This should be one of the first recommendations that gets passed. Is is outrageous that Indiana allows unelected officials to issue debt and raise property taxes. As John B Kalb would say - Taxation without representation is tyranny!
This makes sense to me but the committee's recommendation was rather weak as there's no mechanism suggested to ensure this gets done.
One of the problems with consolidation is there no incentive for bureaucrats to take action. The commission is recommending that the state legislature give incentives to local government such as property tax credits and more local revenue tools. I would go a step further by allowing consolidation to take place via referendum. If the people want to consolidate their government then that should be their right and we should remove any and all barriers that are denying the people's will.
Essentially this would allow local government to tax citizens within different geographic locations differently. For example if you're outside the city you shouldn't be paying for city water and sewer. This seems to be a secondary recommendation but would become critical if the other consolidation recommendations passed.
This is all about applying six sigma, total quality management, or another cost/quality management system to local government. I'm not a big fan of six sigma (that's an entire post to itself) but as long as local government has a mechanism to measure their service and find areas for improvement then I'm happy. Also, Fort Wayne was mentioned in this recommendation - "The recently achieved improvements in service to citizens in Fort Wayne are worth emulating".
This should be enacted immediately and was a big reason why I could not support Marty Bender's candidacy for city council. Here's what the commission had to say:
First, it is a clear conflict of interest for public employees to benefit from their actions as elected officials. Second, it undermines the chain of command and procedures for discipline that are critical to effective public services, particularly public safety. And perhaps most important, it diminishes the faith that citizens must have that local governments act in the public interest.
I couldn't agree more but evidently the people of Fort Wayne disagree.
You mean we're going to establish benchmarks (see below) AND measure results? Somebody pinch me...
See previous comment. They also want to create a regularly updated database that's available to the public. THIS is how it should be done at all levels of government.
The commission is wise to suggest such a position and they go a step further by suggesting this office should have no other responsibilities so they don't get bogged down by other issues. I would only go a step further by putting a sunset date on this position so it's effectively eliminated at some future date unless the state legislature renews it...