Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman will hit the road in a final push to enact some form of local government restructuring next year. Local government reform was the one piece of Governor Daniels‘ agenda rejected by this year‘s legislature. With one last legislative session next year before Daniels and Skillman leave office, Skillman plans brainstorming sessions with county officials in about 30 counties over the next six months, seeking ideas for local efficiencies. The former Lawrence County Recorder and Clerk said she doesn’t believe county officials have been properly heard in the debate over whether to transfer some or all the functions of township government to the counties.
“We pretty much know how our legislators feel about it, how township officials feel about it. I‘m not sure anyone has really delved into county officials‘ sentiments,” said Skillman.
Skillman said they‘ll discuss the recommendations of the bipartisan commission headed by former Governor Joe Kernan and Chief Justice Randall Shepard to merge or eliminate several governmental units and offices. Most of those recommendations have stalled in the legislature since the panel issued them four years ago. But Skillman said she‘s mainly looking for new approaches.
“Not only what the county and the state can do together, but in each of these counties, you‘ll have several communities together, so what can they do to work together?”
Skillman plans to continue the county-by-county tour next year, visiting all 92 before her term ends. She said it‘s a chance to look firsthand at how communities have spent grant money her office administers. The tour begins today in Medora in Jackson County.