Finish Unigov Already.

This is going to be a bit more of a rant than a well thought out article…but you are used to that with me by now.

Once upon a time, Marion County contained 17 different towns and municipalities. They were: Indianapolis, Clermont, Crows Nest, Homecroft, Meridian Hills, North Crows Nest, Rocky Ripple, Spring Hill, Warren Park, Irvington, Williams Creek, Cumberland (half), Wynnedale, Beech Grove, Lawrence, Southport, and Speedway.

There may have actually been more, but well I am on a thought so yell at me later and I may fix it or I may ignore you.

At any rate, in 1970 that all changed and all of those came under the jurisdiction on the City of Indianapolis except Beech Grove, Speedway, Southport and Lawrence.

This created a much higher level of organization, reduced duplication and all and all was very good for the city and its growth.

Can you imagine how much more improvement could be made if we further reduced that duplication and annexed the four remaining towns inside of Marion County?

Lets look at some of the individual problems we have because they are still separate and entertain how further merger could solve them.

Schools: Right now there are 13 different PUBLIC school systems operating in Marion County. That means tax payers are funding 13 different administrations….and that is before we even consider the pillaging being done to the public school system by the advent of charter schools and private school choice voucher systems.

At an average of $148,912 per year (Per, just the reduction from thirteen to one superintendent would reduce the education budget in the county by $1.8 Million. I wont bore us both with going through the full depth of the waste as I am certain that paints the image clearly. That money could be much better spent.

But I do want to hit on one area of expense that would be greatly reduced if we brought the 13 school systems under one umbrella…and then operated them under 9 SQUARE townships. The transportation costs of bussing would be dramatically reduced. As it currently stands, the various school district lines twist and wind around the shapes of towns that exist only on paper (and taxes) and haven’t existed geographically in a generation…and the result is children being bussed 5-10 miles from their house when a school for their age is a short walk away. This was as much a result of court ordered bussing (Indy is integrated well enough at this point to not need this any longer thankfully) as it was the incomplete version of Unigov … but either way, as we complete Unigov’s vision, we should fix it.

General government services: For most government services, I would not expect much of a change. Sure 4 Mayors and other high level town positions would be eliminated, and the primary functions of government would be absorbed into Marion County… but given the amount of city operations you can perform online at this point, the change for citizens would be minimal.

I should note here that citizens of those towns would not lose representation as I am sur the General Assembly would require our City County Council to expand to accommodate appropriate representation.

Emergency Services: This is an area that would be greatly affected in a positive way by a completed merger of Marion County government. as someone who grew up in the borderlands between Indianapolis and Lawrence (and worse yet, back then the border between IPD, The Sherriff and Lawrence PD) I can tell you there is no more dangerous place to live than the edge between two abutting towns.

Neither side wants to service you….and pockets of crime rise. Fire departments argue over who goes to that address, and your house burns. Its not that they aren’t professional. It is about budget and it hurts the people who live there.

And then we hit on the other part of the budget. 5 police chiefs. 5 Fire Chiefs. All of their staffs. IPD and the Marion County Sherriff merging was a huge boon for the city, and I think merging the last five municipalities will be just as good for the whole county.

Anyway, it is long past due. It should have been done in 1970, but as great as Richard Lugar was, he only had so much political capital. Lets finish the work he started.


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About Robb

A husband, Dad to 5, and Grandpa to 9. US Navy Vet. 18 Year Postal Employee turned full time Realtor. I enjoy a wide variety of things, but you will find that here I mostly write about Indianapolis, government/politics, recent news, and whatever book I am reading or have just finished at the moment.
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