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Bill creating a process for removal of township trustees passes out of senate committee

Senators Alting and Niemeyer discuss their bill creating a removal process for township trustees (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)
Senators Alting and Niemeyer discuss their bill creating a removal process for township trustees at a press conference in early January (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Bills creating more oversight for township trustees are moving quickly through the Indiana House and Senate.

Last week, a House committee passed a bill that would give township boards more input on township budgets. On Thursday, a Senate committee passed a bill that would create a process for removing township trustees.

Sen. Rick Niemeyer (R-Lowell) is one of the co-authors on Senate Bill 304. He said it’s important for a process to exist to remove trustees who are not performing their job - but haven’t necessarily committed a crime.

“These are the kinds of things that we’re looking at in this bill that if a trustee continues to do that they need to be called on it and held accountable on it for the taxpayers,” he said.

Supporters of the legislation say it is in response to the actions of trustees in Tippecanoe County’s Wabash and Fairfield townships who acted with little oversight or accountability.

In Wabash Township, now-former Trustee Jennifer Teising faced questions regarding her residency. Earlier this month, Teising was found guilty by Judge Kristen McVey on 21 counts of theft for illegally taking her trustee salary while not a resident of the township.

Sen. Rodney Pol (D-Ogden Dunes) raised concerns about the bill - arguing that the process could become politicized and allow a process for an all Republican board to remove a Democrat trustee they don’t agree with.

“You can’t remove politics from it and I don’t like the idea of removing the voice of the people,” he said.

The bill passed out of committee on a 6-3 vote.