3 Indiana township governments to merge to improve services, cut costs

Map of Johnson County townships in 2011. (Image Provided/Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University Kelley School of Business)

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — Three of the nine townships in Johnson County have agreed to merge into one to provide better services and decrease costs to taxpayers.

The members of advisory boards for Franklin, Needham and Union townships agreed to the merger Wednesday night, said a news release from Nichole Boston, a case manager for the Franklin Township trustee.

Union and Needham townships will be merged into Franklin Township on Jan. 1.

About 14 years ago, a report on state government reform suggested townships in Indiana consider merging. The Johnson County merger will be the first to happen since the 2007 Streamlining Local Government report.

Franklin Township Trustee Lydia Wales said she hopes the merger avoids some issues that Johnson County residents needing emergency assistance have faced. Some don’t know which township in which they live, only to go to one township office and have to be redirected to another. “This is heartbreaking as many clients feel deeply embarrassed for reaching out for help and now must do it again to another Trustee,” said a news release about the merger.

“Franklin Community Schools have also felt the effects of residing in multiple townships,” the release said. “Families with children in the school district who are in need of assistance may receive vastly different aid pending on the township in which they reside.”

The merger will eliminate eight elected, paid positions and remove duplicated expenses, such as insurance and software payments. The merger also will mean expanded hours from the current Franklin Township trustee’s office.

The elected leaders hope their efforts will lead other townships in Indiana to consider mergers to save money.