Milton Twp. trustee quits amid budget controversy
Thursday, March 27, 2014 11:00 AM
The Milton Township Trustee who failed to submit a budget to the state - leaving the township without spending authority this year - has resigned.
Indiana Code says...
The township trustee must follow these guidelines:
For each sum of money received by the trustee, the financial and appropriation record must show:
(1) the date it was received;
(2) from whom it was received;
(3) to what account it was credited.
For each sum of money paid by the executive, the financial and appropriation record must show:
(1) the date it was paid;
(2) to whom it was paid;
(3) from what account it was paid;
(4) why it was paid.
Tammy Stewart, a Democrat who was elected in 2010, filed her resignation Monday at the Clerk's Office.
Milton Township residents had recently been pressing Stewart for not filing a budget for 2013 or 2014, an action that has left the fire department without access to nearly one-third of its funding this year.
The money from the township to the fire department - between $8,000 and $8,500 a year - covers insurance, fuel and maintenance costs.
The Indiana Department of Government Local Finance rolled over last year's tax rate for Milton Township but did not appropriate the funds because Stewart did not submit the budget paperwork. That means while the money has been set aside, the state has not given the trustee spending authority.
According to the Indiana State Board of Accounts, Stewart also did not file an annual spending report for 2013. The reports, which are public record and mandated under state statute, break down salary expenses and township assistance disbursement.
Stewart has not responded to interview requests or a March 7 public records request by The Madison Courier. The open records request was made to review township expenses for 2012 and 2013.
With Stewart's resignation, the Jefferson County Democratic Party can hold a caucus to appoint a new trustee within 30 days. That term would expire at the end of the year when Stewart's term would have been up. There are two Democrats on the ballot for the May 6 primary.
Regardless of who is selected for the position, one of the first orders of business will be to establish a township budget and gain back the township's spending authority this year.
Creating a budget will mean a nonbinding review from the County Council and then an appropriation from the state.
Laura Boldery, vice chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party, said the party plans to meet on Wednesday to determine the next step. She said the party was aware of Milton Township's budget issue and hopes to work with the next trustee to resolve the problem as swiftly as possible.