In the Unites States, states are divided into counties and most counties are divided up into still smaller units of government called townships. These sub-governmental units handle mundane issues that are extremely local, such as maintenance of small dirt roads, ditching issues, hosting elections, trash collection and other basic needs of life.
But in the state of Indiana, the long-standing tradition of government by township has run into problems. More and more, incidents of corruption by local township officers have increased. For example, a trustee in Knight Township of Indiana’s Vanderburgh County allegedly misappropriated $70,000.
The temptation to misuse funds is great at the township level because oversight is not rigorous. Government at the county level undergos regular audits by the state, but many townships do not have their books audited by a third-party authority. That makes it too easy to “cook the books” if a township official is so tempted.
So now state lawmakers in Indiana have proposed the consolidation of 300 of its 1,005 townships. That means there will be a lot fewer of them to monitor, and larger township bodies will likely undergo greater scrutiny, such as annual audits.
The Indiana Legislature is expected to take up the issue during its 2018 calendar.
Although it may cause some controversy at the local level, there is likely to be little opposition from ordinary citizens. State-level officials hope better management at the township level will make for an more efficient and accountable Indiana government overall.