Letter: Defining roles of elections to come

From: David Harpenau


On Nov. 8, voters will be able to select candidates for a number of different positions at the national, state and local levels. Locally, we will be able to choose up to three Bartholomew County Council at-large members and two county commissioners.

Council members and commissioners have different roles and responsibilities but must work closely together. It might be helpful to review the responsibilities of each position.

Beginning with county commissioners, there are three commissioners who have the following responsibilities: authorize all county claims; solicit and receive bids and award contracts for county projects; oversee all county roads and bridges; and appoint members on boards, commissions, committees, etc. Essentially, commissioners are the executive branch of county government. They administer an annual budget that has been approved by the county council, and any changes in that approved budget must go back to be approved by the county council.

The county council is the fiscal branch of county government. Responsibilities include to approve an annual budget for all county government offices; establish salaries, wages and other compensation, such as benefits, for all county officials and employees; fix tax rates for many of the taxing units within the county; and if borrowing of money is necessary, that action must also be approved by the council. In addition, if any county government property is bought or sold, the county council needs to approve such action. It should be stressed that the council has ultimate decision-making regarding fiscal matters, including setting priorities for how county funds are to be spent.

The above comes from a state edition of “Guide to Indiana County Government.” This list of responsibilities is not exhaustive but does include primary responsibilities.

Commissioners and council members have different responsibilities but must work together in order to govern in a way that decisions are made, based upon what is best for Bartholomew County. This assumes that planning has been done, agreeing upon specific defined priorities.

I will make choices for county positions based upon who I think will take the time and support strategic planning that will help to set priorities, clearly and specifically defining “what is best for Bartholomew County.” I will vote for candidates who support this approach. Vote for change. Vote for Pam Clark, Lynne Fleming and Diane Hawes for county council at-large; Paula Rothrock for county coroner; and Brad Woodcock for county commissioner in District 3.