INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform wants you. Sort of.
They want Hoosiers to give them ideas on how to improve and restructure local government.
In the wake of many Hoosiers suffering a form of property tax sticker shock, Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and former Gov. Joe Kernan were appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in July to co-chair the commission, which has five other members.
Kernan said the ultimate goal of the commission is to streamline and modernize local government without compromising the quality of services delivered.
He and Shepard also hope the changes will result in cost-savings to Indiana’s taxpayers.
“Everything is on the table,” Kernan said. “Everything is fair game.”
Daniels has specifically asked the commission to review the township and county property tax assessing system for possible changes; as well as school consolidation and whether a constitutional convention is needed if major changes are to be made to the Indiana Constitution.
Besides seeking input from Hoosiers, the commission will have at least three public moderated forums statewide – possibly in October – where Hoosiers can come speak their minds.
But the real decisions will be made behind closed doors – as the group’s first meeting was Wednesday.
And virtually all the grunt work will be done by the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs – including interviews with those who have direct interests in various levels of government.
“Part of our task here is the very short time frame under which we’re operating and an incredibly complex matter. That’s part of it. And the ability to tease out and challenge ideas without worrying about whether somebody gets the idea that that’s the answer we think in the end will make for a better product,” Shepard said.
Recommendations are due from the group in December, which Daniels originally said would make the ideas available for the 2008 legislative session starting in January.
Recently, though, Daniels has said he believes there should be a yearlong debate on the ideas during the 2008 election year, with the legislature considering proposals in 2009 and 2010.