The 21 townships in LaPorte County outnumber the townships in every other county in the state.

But perhaps not for much longer.

LaPorte County is one of four counties included in legislation approved Tuesday by the House Local Government Committee creating a process for consolidating townships in selected counties in the hope of improving constituent services.

If enacted into law, House Bill 1355 would establish on July 1 a township merger board in LaPorte County comprised of all 21 township trustees and led by one of the three county commissioners.

The merger board would conduct at least two public hearings on the possibility of township mergers and may create a merger plan for consolidating some or all of the townships in LaPorte County, reorganizing township services and offices, and naming the super-township.

Ultimately, the trustee in each township and a majority of each township's advisory board must consent to any proposed merger for it to take effect.

It's not clear what would happen if parts of the consolidated township are not contiguous.

State Sen. Doug Miller, R-Elkhart, the sponsor of the measure, said Hoosier lawmakers repeatedly have looked at ways to reduce the 1,005 townships in the state to streamline government, improve efficiency and reduce costs — to no avail.

He hopes his township consolidation pilot program for LaPorte, Blackford, Crawford and Switzerland counties will show it can be done on a cooperative basis, setting an example for all 92 counties to follow.

"We're not getting rid of township government," Miller said. "We're really trying to improve the level of customer service and public safety that Hoosiers have a right to."

The proposal next goes to the House Ways and Means Committee for further review.
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