Engrossed House Bill (H)

Authored by

DIGEST

Township government consolidation. Requires all townships with a population of less than 1,200 (as determined by the 2010 federal decennial census) to merge with other townships, effective not later than January 1, 2023. Requires merging townships to adopt identical resolutions and a merger plan. Requires the department of local government finance (DLGF) to assist merging townships. Provides the following with regard to the required merger: (1) Requires merging townships to opt for a township legislative body in which: (A) members are elected at large; or (B) one member must reside within the geographic area of each of the former townships, Township government consolidation. Requires all townships with a population of less than 1,200 (as determined by the 2010 federal decennial census) to merge with other townships, effective not later than January 1, 2023. Requires merging townships to adopt identical resolutions and a merger plan. Requires the department of local government finance (DLGF) to assist merging townships. Provides the following with regard to the required merger: (1) Requires merging townships to opt for a township legislative body in which: (A) members are elected at large; or (B) one member must reside within the geographic area of each of the former townships, and all voters of the new merged township vote for all legislative body members. (2) The new merged township government assumes the indebtedness of the former townships, but may levy property taxes to pay the indebtedness only within the geographic area of the former township that incurred the debt. (3) Provides that only the property owners, school corporations, and residents residing within the geographic area of a former township in which seminary lands are located may continue to receive the benefits from the seminary lands after the merger. (4) Provides that firefighting and emergency services equipment must remained housed and maintained within the geographic boundaries of a former township for not less than five years after the effective date of a township merger. Makes the following changes with regard to all townships: (1) Makes a stylistic change to a statute that allows a participating unit in a newly formed fire protection territory to phase in the unit's property tax levy. (2) Allows a township assistance applicant to appeal to the county commissioners if a township trustee refuses or fails to respond to a request for township assistance services. (3) Amends the information required in the township trustee's annual statistical report. (4) Caps a township board member's salary, for calendar year 2019 and every year thereafter, at not more than $7,000 per year plus a per diem at a rate recommended by the trustee and approved by the township legislative body. (5) Requires a township to prepare a capital improvement plan for the ensuing three years if the balance in certain capital improvement funds in the preceding year exceeds 150% of the township's annual budget estimate. Prohibits the township from collecting property taxes for certain capital improvement funds in the ensuing year unless the township has adopted a capital improvement plan. Urges the legislative council to assign to the appropriate interim study committee the task of studying issues related to the funding of township firefighting services. Makes the following changes in the government reorganization statutes in IC 36-1.5 (government modernization statutes): (1) Removes obsolete references to dates for phasing in changes to procedures for reorganizing political subdivisions. (2) Removes provisions requiring political subdivisions to establish a voter threshhold for approving a public question for certain reorganizations (county-municipality reorganizations and municipality-township reorganizations). (3) Requires the DLGF to provide guidance to political subdivisions regarding government reorganization, including posting written information on the DLGF Internet web site and providing education and training upon request. (4) Updates the government modernization statutes to recognize the school corporation operations fund and the elimination of the transportation, school bus replacement, and capital projects funds. (5) Provides that a plan of reorganization must specify any adjustments (instead of decreases) that the DLGF will make to levies, rates, and budgets of the reorganizing political subdivisions. (6) Requires the legislative bodies of political subdivisions that adopt substantially identical resolutions to reorganize to prepare and vote on a plan of reorganization. (7) Provides that if the voters of two or more political subdivisions petition to mutually reorganize, and at least one of the political subdivisions declines to participate, a public question must be conducted on the reorganization if a petition is filed by 5% of the voters of each of the political subdivisions who voted for secretary of state at the most recent general election. (8) Requires that, if a legislative body of a political subdivision does not adopt a final plan of reorganization, 5% (instead of 10%) of voters of the political subdivision who voted for secretary of state at the most recent general election, must sign a petition to have the reorganization plan approved or rejected by voters in a public question. (9) Removes a provision requiring reorganizing political subdivisions to pay the cost of the DLGF's review of a fiscal impact analysis of the reorganization. (10) Removes the requirement that a political subdivision follow the procedure for reorganization in order to enter into a cooperative agreement with another political subdivision, and specifies that the requirements for an interlocal agreement must be followed. (11) Provides that if a cooperative agreement provides for abolishing an elected office, the voters of the political subdivision whose elected office is to be abolished may file a remonstrance petition objecting to the abolition of the elected office with the circuit court clerk of each county in which the political subdivision is located. ... View more