Monday, February 2, 2004

Study indicates townships inefficient

From the state capitals

INDIANAPOLIS - Legislators who argue Indiana government could become more efficient if townships were abolished have new data to back up their contention: a study paid for by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce that found high overhead costs in township governments.

A proposal to transfer all functions of township governments to the county level by 2005 failed to advance in the House this session.

The Chamber of Commerce-financed study found $29.3 million was spent administering an Indiana township system that delivered $32.4 million in poor relief last year, or 90 cents of overhead expense per $1 of aid. The study does not include data from more than half of the smaller 1,008 townships in Indiana.

Fletcher budget includes renovation

FRANKFORT - Gov. Ernie Fletcher's budget given to legislators last week sets aside $46 million to renovate a state office building. The upgrades would mean the 12-story building in downtown Frankfort will sit empty for years as each floor is revamped and filled with new furniture.

State officials want the building - formerly used by the Transportation Cabinet - to reflect the cabinet's new $113 million headquarters across the street.

Part of the plan includes nearly $3 million in rental payments to house hundreds of state workers during the renovations. The state spends $15 million a year leasing space for state workers.

Some legislators say the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Woman dies, two firefighters injured

COLUMBUS - A portable heater in the bathroom started a trailer home fire that killed a woman and injured two firefighters early Sunday. A man and two children escaped the 4 a.m. fire that killed Alice Hall, 48. The fire was ruled accidental, fire department spokeswoman Kelly McGuire said.

Two firefighters were treated at hospitals for concussions caused by an explosion inside the trailer, McGuire said.

She didn't know what caused the explosion, but said the firefighters were outside the trailer battling the fire when it happened.

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