by Curt Kovener
Despite a stinking economy, a hostage holding stock market, unemployment
idling nearly 1 in every 10 Hoosiers, and the majority of the population
scared about their future but trying to put on a brave face, it seems all
some elected leaders and their hired guns want to talk about is how much
government consolidation will be the state’s savior.
The Governor touts the findings of his appointed Kernan-Shepard Committee on
how to improve Hoosier government. Kernan-Shepard was a flawed committee
providing a jaundiced view of Hoosier life. Not a single member of
Kernan-Shepard had any experience is town, county or township government.
They were mayors, former state legislative officials and representatives of
big business. Every member of Kernan-Shepard resides in an urban big city.
So I ask: What the hell do any of them know about life as we live it out
here in the country? Visiting their weekend cabin in Brown County or on Lake
Wawasee doesn’t qualify them to speak on living life out here in the sticks.
You see in the big cities, they are used to mass transit so that folks
living on the edges of the city who are in need of services can board a bus
and be dropped off where ever they need to go. Alas, no buses serve the
residents of Jackson, Scott or Washington Counties.
And the government consolidation pundits claim that much of the government
services business can now be handled on-line. But unlike the metropolitan
areas where residents can have a choice of high speed internet (a necessity
to do business with government on-line) only portions of rural Indiana have
the needed high speed internet connection. Some folks living less than 3
miles from Crothersville and Austin are unable to get DSL and are still
forced to use dial-up service, if that can be called technology by today’s
standards. If you live in the bucolic hills of Jackson or Washington County
you can forget about wireless broadband because of the terrain or lack of
And the big city proponents (they really get bent out of shape when they are
called that because they know it’s true and have no response other than to
call us “backward”, “status quo” and “resistant to change”) would have us
believe that someone in the county seat knows better how to provide fire
protection than on the local level.
A county wide fire protection service would be required to provide equal
funding & services. Jackson, Washington and Redding Townships in Jackson
County currently have their fire protection provided by residents paying
dues to their respective departments. The more “efficient” county-wide fire
protection method would mean a property tax increase in those three
townships…even though lower property taxes is the main motivation behind
The needs of Crothersville and Vernon Township along the much traveled I-65
corridor are vastly different than the western county where hilly, curvy
roads would prevent some large fire apparatus used in the eastern part of
the county from navigating to a fire scene or medical emergency.
And remember that all county residents will not pay equally into the fire
protection system. The City of Seymour—where about half of the entire
county’s assessed wealth is located—those residents, businesses and
industries would not pay anything to fund county fire protection because the
city has their own paid fire department.
Do you think that a county seat bureaucrat using only the currently
available dollars will have your best interests at heart and be able to
improve funding for all rural fire departments?
Should fire protection be determined by the county will some current fire
stations be closed (a synonym for consolidation) for financial reasons? And
should that happen, while we may save some in tax dollars, some will be
greeted with increased insurance premiums for rural home and farm coverage
since proximity to a fire department is a factor in the insurance premium
I travel to the courthouses of Jackson and Scott County each week to gather
the news. Should the consolidation effort succeed, I am not sure where the
respective counties will place the needed offices to deal with residents’
concerns. Wouldn’t it be “penny wise & pound foolish” if to save money by a
consolidating government, that more government offices must be built, leased
Recently the Indianapolis Star reported on the amount of surplus dollars
township government had squirreled away. What wasn’t included in the report
is the amount of money being saved in cumulative (that means save it until
you need to make a purchase) fire equipment accounts. It is much more
damning if you can report how government taxes its residents while having
piles of money in reserve.
Besides, here in the country aren’t we raised to save for a rainy day? Or
would they want you to believe it is better to get a loan from the bank for
operating funds and then pay the bank interest using tax dollars?
And speaking of the Indianapolis Star, if all of Indiana is to operate the
same, do you really believe that the state’s largest newspaper and the
Crothersville Times have the same business model? There are differences; one
size does not fit all. If the state’s leader doesn’t believe that I will be
happy for our 5-foot-something governor to exchange suit coats with me for
The government model the big city folks have developed may work quite well
for urban, metropolitan areas. I don’t live there & don’t have much inkling
of their needs and issues so it would be improper for me to offer
suggestions. That is diametrically opposed to the urban based government
consolidation proponents who haven’t done their homework for what works in
It seems the big city advocates just want to force it down our throats and
tell us it’s good for us.