The Role Of The Township Trustee
Few in Indiana understand the key role the
township trustee plays in local government.
"It's a position which perhaps is not as visible as some of the
others, but nevertheless, it is an extremely important position here
in Indiana government," reports Indiana Farm Bureau state
government relations director Bob Kraft.
Each of Indiana's 1,008 townships has a trustee, who is the chief
administrator of township government.
The township trustee is the chief administrator of the township
government. The trustee is also the assessor in townships with
populations of less than 5,000. In townships with populations
between 5,000 and 8,000, the township has the option of the trustee
serving as assessor, or it can elect an independent assessor.
Townships with more than 8,000 residents elect a separate assessor.
"Of the top 10 largest units of local government in Indiana,
two actually are townships - Center Township in Marion County and
Calumet Township in Lake County."
Trustees are also responsible for township poor relief, fire
protection and emergency services. "Statewide, about 55 percent
of the township budgets goes toward fire protection and emergency
services. They also serve in providing parks and recreation, and
"There are three areas that are particularly important in rural
Indiana," Kraft noted. "In these areas, trustees serve as
fence viewer, responsible for resolving disputes regarding partition
fences between neighbors. They also administer the weed laws in
those counties without weed boards."
Township trustees also administer the dog fund, established by the
dog tax, which is paid to farmers and livestock owners who lose
their livestock through wild dog predation. "You would not
think that is something that happens in Indiana, but it does,"
Kraft said. "Trustees administer a number of dog damage claims
Townships themselves date back to the Land Ordinance of 1785. The
Continental Congress sent surveyors out into the wilderness to break
it into townships for administrative purposes. That early work
serves as the basis for the townships of today.
Kraft says roughly 10 states have the township form of government,
which itself dates back to medieval England.
article was written by the Indiana Farm Bureau)