As I’ve heard older people say, “There’s a lot of jawing on property taxes, but not much doing.”

It is time for the Blue Ribbon Commission to look beyond bandage fixes and ways to save a little money. The system is broken, has been broken and will be broken if the Blue Ribbon Commission does not return to the Legislature with a recommendation for a complete overhaul of our means of obtaining financial support for schools, libraries and government. Short of giving up services, there are only a few ways left to lower the cost of government.  

What we can do is provide for our services in a fairer, more modern method than property taxes.

 The current state and local government in Indiana is a product of fear. After the near collapse of state government with the building of canals before the Civil War, the people wanted a government that was both close to the people and capable of doing very little quickly.  The current constitution is a product of those times and views.  

Originally, the executive branch was mostly dominated by commissions who were independent of the governor and elected executive officers who had to face the people every two years. The governor was mostly a figure-head who served one term and then either retired or was appointed to the U.S. Senate. It is time for the Blue Ribbon Commission, the governor and the General Assembly to come together to re-invent how Indiana government works to serve the people. Many offices on both the county and state level should become appointed. Examples of these are county auditor, county engineer, county treasurer, county surveyor and on and on.  

The existence of these offices and who holds them should be entirely a local matter. Other levels of government, such as the townships, and offices such as trustee should be totally eliminated. The Governor is correct.

We have too many levels of government and too many elected office holders.

While not usually a voice for consolidation, I think most township duties could easily be performed better at the county level.

A lot of rumors are floating around the library world that Gov. Daniels’ next big move will be to force the consolidation of libraries and schools in order to save money. Consolidating schools in the 1950s and 1960s nearly destroyed many local communities because the school was the community center. Many experts believe part of the reason for the increase in discipline problems in schools is putting so many students in a compacted space. I doubt that many people believe that any true savings were obtained by school consolidation.

Today, in many communities, the library has become the center of the community. If libraries are forced to consolidate like the schools were earlier, what is going to be left for our communities to coalesce around? 

The Walton Public Library, for instance, circulates nearly 60,000 items per year with an operating budget of about $120,000. This means the average cost of operating is just over $2 per item that is checked out. I don’t think there is any way that consolidation could serve people as well at a lower cost.

The Walton Public Library also serves as the center of the Walton community. Many civic groups meet here and most people pass through the library on a regular basis. First our schools and now our local libraries are a center of community pride. Don’t let the politicians take away our libraries in the name of saving a few bucks on property taxes.

Gordon Southern is director of the Walton Public Library.

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