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Farm Bureau reviews Kernan-Shepard Report

Friday, November 14, 2008

Clay County Farm Bureau offered an informational meeting Thursday regarding a property tax reform package passed earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly.

Indiana Farm Bureau's tax and local government specialist Katrina Hall detailed the package, discussing the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform's 2007 report, "Streamlining Local Government," also known as the Kernan-Shepard Report.

The report was authored by former Governor Joe Kernan and Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard.

"There is still a whole lot more that needs to be played out with this legislation," Hall told those in attendance at Thursday's meeting.

Hall was quick to point out that Farm Bureau had not taken a stance on the report yet.

She provided residents with a packet detailing the report, including what might happen if the package is passed.

The package broke down recommendations in seven different areas, including counties, townships, schools, cities and towns, libraries and special districts, all local governments and support and monitoring.

Hall said Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is in favor of the package.

Hall said at the county level, the package is calling to "create a clearer, more accountable structure with fewer elected officials."

The report suggests establishing one person -- who would be elected -- as a county chief executive.

Duties for the county chief executive would include the transferring of administrative duties of the county auditor, treasurer, recorder, assessor, surveyor, sheriff and coroner to the person in the post, in addition to transferring the "varied duties of the clerk to the courts, to the county election board and to the county executive."

Clay County Council President Mike McCullough, who was at Thursday's meeting, said despite the possible need to "streamline local government," he felt things were fine in Clay County.

"It's not broken here, so why fix it," McCullough said. "One shoe doesn't fit all counties. The system works well for our county."

Hall agreed.

"Every community is going to have different needs," she said. "There are a lot of counties that are functioning at a high level."

At the township level, the report calls for the transfer of responsibilities of township government for "assessment, poor relief, fire protection, emergency medical service, cemeteries and other remaining responsibilities to the county executive, among other items.

At the school level, the report calls for a reorganization of school districts to "achieve a minimum student population of 2,000," among other items.

At the cities and towns level, the report calls for the city council to appoint the city clerk in second-class cities, among other items.

The report took at least six months to create and, in a letter provided by Kernan and Shepard, it was stated they believed the state "maintains literally thousands of local governments and we pay for more than 10,000 officeholders. All of this is more expensive than it needs to be."

The meeting was co-sponsored by the Clay County Chamber of Commerce.

A copy of the report may be obtained at the Indiana Farm Bureau website, www.infarmbureau.org, by clicking on "Public Policy," and then scrolling down to the link for "Kernan-Shepard Report 2007."

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If you have insurance with Farm Bureau Insurance you are required to pay a membership fee. Indiana Farm Bureau Incorporated uses a portion of that money to lobby the State Legislature to lower taxes. What group does IFBI represent? Farmers. It is a joke when non-farmers are invited to a Farm Bureau meeting concerning taxes.

-- Posted by ucantbserious on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 8:27 AM

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