Township Merger in Johnson County to Improve Services, Save Money
Although the merger of three Johnson County townships will not take place until early 2022, the idea of government consolidation has been in focus for over ten years and supported by many business and community organizations, including Aspire. It will be the first such merger in Indiana history and will involve Franklin, Needham and Union townships which transverse the middle of Johnson County. In April, the townships’ trustees and boards held a public hearing on the proposed merger, then passed resolutions authorizing it.
Aspire was one of those early supporters, said President and CEO Christian Maslowski. “Aspire supports government consolidation where appropriate because we believe streamlining government processes, and making them easier to navigate, can save taxpayer dollars and make our community a good place to do business. Township consolidations can be terrific examples of how to streamline Hoosier government.”
Maslowski added, “Township lines were drawn more than a century ago, before motorized vehicles and the internet. Today, growing populations and expanding municipal boundaries have the tendency to blur township lines and duties. Just as importantly, modern technology has facilitated operational efficiencies in government services. This combination of mobility, community growth and technology creates the perfect opportunity to consider eliminating offices and streamlining workflow.”
How will the process work? At the end of this year, Union and Needham Township trustees will resign and the townships will be dissolved and merged into Franklin Township. Also, two of the three board members of each of the merging townships will resign and the remaining members – one from each of the three townships – will form the new board. The merger cannot take effect until the next Jan. 1, since state law prohibits townships from acting on mergers in a year when their offices are on the election ballot.
The new entity will work out of the current Franklin Township office located at 20 Circle Drive in the City of Franklin. A name for the new entity has not yet been determined.
The benefits of the merger are numerous: It will save taxpayers money and provide improved services. It will eliminate confusion about which township office to deal with. And it will eliminate costs related to duplication of services such as staffing, office supplies, equipment and telephones. All services will be provided at the office for Franklin Township which owns the building, so rent will not be a cost issue. Existing agreements for traditional services including fire protection and cemetery maintenance will remain in effect.
Townships in Indiana provide financial assistance for things like rent or mortgage and utilities as well as healthcare costs and burial expenses. Eligibility criteria must be met.
Franklin Township is unique among the three because it also has food and clothing available for residents along with transitional housing assistance and is open during regular hours.
Because the tax rates of the townships are similar, no significant change is anticipated. The new tax levy will be determined by averaging the rates of the three townships.
“We applaud Franklin, Needham and Union townships on this consolidation. It's cool to see Johnson County set an example of good governance,” Maslowski concluded. “This is truly a successful, historic consolidation effort, combining three trustee positions into one and reducing nine board seats to three. This may well serve as a model for other governmental units across the state wanting to streamline their services. Kudos to all involved!”