News release from the John McGauley campaign:
McGauley Proposes Allen County Government Restructuring Plan
Current structure delays progress, costs too much and is difficult to understand, McGauley says
County Government structure is outdated and expensive and should be replaced with one that is leaner, less burdensome to taxpayers and simpler to navigate, said John McGauley, Republican candidate for Allen County Commissioner.
But current county structure should only give way to an organizational chart that preserves the ability of citizens to choose their representatives, while at the same time building a government more suited to meeting the demands of the 21st Century, McGauley added.
“Every discussion of government reorganization tends to take an all-or-nothing approach to the problem,” McGauley said. “Solutions either leave county government the way it is or take from citizens most of the important choices they get to make in who their leaders are. I believe it’s possible to modernize local government while still preserving the role voters have in shaping their community.”
McGauley proposed reorganizing local government in a manner (specifics of plan follow this release) that would require statutory changes and possibly changes to the Indiana Constitution to implement.
But the results would be dramatic: A streamlined organizational chart, cleaner lines of accountability and the elimination of up to 66 elected positions. An actual change of up to 64 positions would occur, as the result of adding two positions to County Council in order to make districts smaller and easier to represent.
“This is the scope of change that I believe is necessary and long overdue,” McGauley said. “I will work toward a modern model for local government without the caveats placed in the way of change by current officeholders who promote it with their words and delay it endlessly with their actions.”
Most notable among the changes McGauley pledged to work toward is elimination of the three-member Board of Commissioners and creation of a single, elected County Executive.
“This is the single biggest step we could take in Allen County to restore faith in county government that has been undermined by decades of dysfunction,” McGauley said. “I want to endorse a wide-ranging design for badly needed reform by starting at the top.”
An immediate and sweeping overhaul of county government structure is needed for many reasons, including:
1.) County Government Is Often Incomprehensible: Citizens and business people are stymied every day by form that fails to fit function. Conducting simple transactions requires stopping in two or three different offices. Services are not found in the logical places. Business dealings are complicated by the need to deal with multiple offices with inconsistent standards and lines of accountability. Progress sometimes demands expediency and county government structure impedes timeliness.
2.) The Money Is Gone: County government has been forced to dramatically cut budgets year after year. The 2012 general fund budget fell more than 11 percent from 2011. Cutting budgets only in response to crisis, such an annexations and economic downturns that reduce tax revenue, will only work so long. Underlying organizational change is the only step that can position Allen County government for a future in which it maximizes its contribution to the community.
3.) A Three Commissioner System Disenfranchises Citizens: The current Commissioner system, spread across three districts and two separate election cycles, makes it nearly impossible for communities outside the City of Fort Wayne to compete for a voice in the executive branch of county government. The inequity is later reflected in board appointments and other opportunities for civic involvement that further disenfranchise Allen County’s other communities. The ability to focus resources, votes and interest on a single position, in a single election cycle, puts those communities on more even playing field.
Continuing to provide ample service and representation is why McGauley’s plan proposes to eliminate township boards, assigning their budgetary duties to the County Council and a newly created County Controller, while retaining township trustees. The services provided by township trustees are vital, but the budgetary role of the township boards would be better placed in the hands of financial professionals. Public access to township spending would also be improved by centralizing the boards’ budget duties.
“If Allen County taxpayers are to ever truly realize the value of their investment in government, we must refocus county government on its core duties and constituencies by transforming its outmoded organizational structure,” McGauley said. “The way we’ve always done it is holding our community back.”
John McGauley’s Plan for Reorganizing Allen County Government:
1.) County Executive
Eliminates: Board of Commissioners
Among the county executive’s hires would be a “County Engineer” who would assume the combined duties of the County Surveyor and County Highway Director.
2.) County Council
Eliminates: Township Boards
Expands from 7 to 9 members. 6 Districts; 3 At-Large. Acquires legislative responsibility of the Board of Commissioners and budgetary authority for the township trustees.
3.) County Clerk
Eliminates/Absorbs: County Recorder
Many states operate under a combined Clerk/Recorder system. The positions are often confused with one another, causing confusion for taxpayers and for those seeking services.
4.) County Controller
Replaces/Combines: County Auditor, County Treasurer
Would specifically acquire responsibility for providing technical assistance to County Council and Township Trustees for management/accounting for township finances.
5.) County Assessor
Replaces/Absorbs: Remaining stand-alone township assessors (such as Wayne).
6.) County Sheriff
Absorbs: County Coroner
Law enforcement authority previously held by coroner under IC 35-33-1-3 transfers to Indiana State Police. Sheriff appoints a Director of Medical Examination who must hold qualifications set forth under IC 36-2-14.