2013 Indiana General Assembly

House backs study on structure of county government

2013-03-28T15:39:00Z 2013-03-28T17:55:22Z House backs study on structure of county governmentBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com

INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana House wants to take another look at county government reforms recommended by the 2007 Kernan-Shepard Report on streamlining local government.

On Thursday, the chamber agreed to rewrite Senate Bill 475 to require a legislative study committee examine whether counties should be governed by one executive instead of the current three county commissioners.

Lawmakers also agreed to review whether putting a county's legislative and fiscal authority entirely in control of the county council, as Lake and St. Joseph counties already do, would work better than splitting those powers between the council and the commissioners.

The original legislation would have allowed Allen County, home to Fort Wayne, to serve as a test site for a single-county-executive form of government. 

The sponsor, state Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, said different parts of the state have different needs and should be allowed to use the government that suits them best.

However, state Rep. Matthew Lehman, R-Berne, persuaded the House to study the issue so as to not end up with 92 different forms of government in each of Indiana's counties. 

The ideas for a single county executive and county councils with full legislative and fiscal authority were the top two recommendations of a year-long study of local government reform headed by former Gov. Joe Kernan and former Chief Justice Randall Shepard.

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